When it comes to improving online visibility, “competition” is one word that comes up a lot. Your goal, aside from being as high as possible, is to be higher than the competition. But just who are your competitors? How do you identify which ones to compete with?
By knowing how to identify your competition, you can better plan your SEO strategy, content and even website optimisation. Your competitors are the websites ranking higher than you, but it also helps to keep an eye on websites directly below you, as a successful SEO campaign might cause them to make a surprise leap up.
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning. If you’re locally based – or even just happen to have actual brick and mortar stores in addition to your online business – then you will have some local competition.
To find these, other than using your local knowledge, you should be conduction a geo-related keyword analysis. People will often search for the likes of “plumbers in Birmingham” for example and this is where you and these other businesses converge. Find out who’s ranking here to identify the websites you’re vying for visibility with.
Naturally, it’s easy to search for the highest keywords related to your platform and mark the resulting platforms as your competitors. However, depending on the size of your website and your SEO budget, this isn’t always wise.
For example, a small independent clothing store likely hasn’t got the vast resources to compete for the same area of the market as a national or international department store. There’s a reason smaller fashion shops are refereed to as boutiques, while Debenhams, House of Fraser et al are not. You need to assess the competition at your level, not necessarily at the top.
Do some keyword research and find some realistic keywords. This isn’t always about the search volumes. Look at where you currently rank and how much of an improvement you need to be noticeably more visible. For example, it’s often better to focus on a smaller keyword that places you 11th, than a bigger, popular query that places you 20th. For the former, a singular jump up would put you on the first page, but you would need to do some extensive work for the latter.
Cross Industry Competitors
Finally, it helps to be aware of cross industry competition. No industry is an island: everything eventually overlaps. A clothing store can cross into the wider fashion, style and art spheres. As such, you might find more specific keywords come up in unusual websites. It might just be that these places rank better due to offering more relevant content, an overall higher domain authority or, simply, they’ve been around longer with a more established website and back-link profile.
So, do these people count as competition? Yes and no. In terms of wider keyword targeting, it helps to be aware of them, as they can better influence the keywords you focus on. For specific content, these should be treated like any website. If you’re trying to get a specific piece of content noticed, treat these websites as competition: after all, they’re ranking more highly, so analyse them to see what they’re doing better.
Using This Information
As mentioned at the start, this is about finding your competitors. After this, you still have to analyse, assess and compete with them. Yet it’s important to keep your competitors relative, as using websites that are too high (or too low) in comparison will only alter your metrics and give you less useful information.