Understanding Your (Search Ranking) Competitors


Gaining an accurate picture of direct competitors is Business 101. You create an advantage by surveying, analyzing, and understanding the motives, goals, and actions of your competition. In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), you’re competing for search engine ranking position, exposure, and traffic. The key though, is understanding exactly who it is you’re competing with.

A Digital Perspective

Showing up on the front page of Google often leads to a surge in traffic – the higher the ranking, the better. But it’s not just companies offering similar services and products that you’re competing against as you vie for rankings. Room on the front page is frequently occupied by the same heavy hitter – regardless of subject matter. Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and other major players online consistently rank in the top of search engine results. In fact, in 2015, almost 30% of results in the second position on Google were from Wikipedia – and they get 20% of top-position rankings.[1]

Wikipedia ranks so well for a couple of reasons. First of all, the site has extraordinary domain authority – meaning there are copious amounts of high quality inbound links pointing towards the site. Second, Wikipedia, despite some negative misconceptions, consists of high-quality content. Third, the website provides an easy to follow structure and layout. This makes it easy for users, and web crawlers, to visit the site, access information, and move to the next subject. Finally, Wikipedia’s internal linking is extremely strong. You’ll notice that nearly every word or phrase that has an entry is linked in each article. Together, these factors contribute to high-rankings for tons of terms.

Competing with websites like Wikipedia, Yelp, and even Google’s own pages is not impossible, but it may be costly and time consuming. This is where strategy comes into play. How do you gain effective SEO results without confronting these giants head-on?

Pick Your Battles

Once you understand the competition, you can devise a strategy for competing. Let’s review a few tips for earning rankings for valuable keywords without having to worry too much about the Wikipedias of the world.

  • Search RankingsGo Local – As long as your company operates in a specific region or area, targeting for locally-oriented keywords will be an optimal strategy. Instead of targeting “mass-scale excavation,” target a keyword phrase such as, “mass-scale excavation in Pittsburgh.” Local search terms frequently forgo informational results for those more relevant to the user’s inquiry. When you’re optimizing your website’s H1 title’s and content, consider using phrases that include local references.
  • Get Specific – Highly specific, or long-tail keyword phrases, not only help cut down on competition from major sites, users who arrive to you site via these searches have a better chance of converting to a sale. Rather than “Denver plumbers,” focus your optimization efforts on phrases like “fix a leaky sink in Denver” or “plumbing pipes leaking.” Of course you’ll have to do the research and ensure the phrases you’re using are in fact being searched – it makes no sense to target something nobody is looking for.
  • Focus on YOUR Competition – You don’t want to invest too much of your SEO spend on competing with websites that aren’t your direct competition. People searching for your service know that they won’t find what they need from Wikipedia. Focus on getting your website on the front page of results listing, outranking local competitors, and providing fantastic content that brings the user experience together.

Summing It Up

Search Engine OptimizationThe world of Search Engine Optimization is intensely competitive. Not only are you vying for position among other industry leaders, but there are hundreds of other websites battling for the same spots as well. In order to effectively compete, you need a well-defined strategy that focuses on conversions – not just traffic. By picking your battles wisely, you can bring people to your website that are more likely to turn into paying customers.

Is it possible to outrank a massive website like Wikipedia for generic, common keywords? Yes, but the real question becomes, “is it worth the expense?” In almost every case, there is a better option than going head-to-head. Research on your own or sit down with your SEO agency to come up with the best solution for your SEO needs.

[1] http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

Calendar August 26, 2016 | User Steve King | Tag , ,