While you’re looking at your competitors, make sure that you’re also looking at which keywords are making sales versus drawing lots of window shoppers. Take note of how specialized they are. People search for broader terms when they’re still doing their research and more specialized terms when they’re getting ready to make a purchase.
Your competitor who is ranked high for a general keyword might not be raking in the sales like the competitor dominating all the niche terms. Sometimes it takes users a lot of time and research to make a purchasing decision, so conversions may be slow to happen on broad terms.
Determining True Competitors by Their Measures
Knowing your competition is very important. In terms of competition, you have three basic types: the local brick‐and‐mortar business, the online powerhouse, and the large corporate brand name. These are all different markets and need to be treated differently in terms of competing with them. What you need to do after doing the research on your competition is to figure out whom you’re really competing against. Look at all the information you’ve gathered.
Is Bob, your local business competitor, your main competition, or is it Mabel’s online website? Or are you competing against the big kids on the block, like Ford and Chevy? It all depends on who you are and what you’re trying to sell.
Bob is not your competition online because he doesn’t even have a website! Mabel pops up first in the search engine results, but she doesn’t do quite what you do. And as for the large corporations, it’s probably not even worth trying to compete with them for their broad terms.
Consider another example. Say that your brother owns his own car customization business, but he restores only Volkswagen vans. He doesn’t want to rank for the term [Volkswagen] because his is a specialized business and Volkswagen is too broad a term. Most people searching for [Volkswagen] alone would probably not be looking to restore a Volkswagen van. If he were to focus solely on the keyword [Volkswagen], it would do him more harm than good because the term is too broad and is already a brand name. What he would want to do is rank for the keyword phrase.
Sweating the Small Stuff
Take advantage of what you can control. Every little piece of information counts, whether it’s market research, what kind of traffic your competition is getting, what keywords they’re using, or something else. Do sweat the small stuff: It really counts in search engine optimization.
But don’t get discouraged because of all the competition out there: Many companies out there don’t know anything about search engine optimization. Most major companies don’t even bother with it. Your competition probably doesn’t know as much as you know at this point, and you can use that to your advantage.