Ask the Expert

5/27/2014

- Matt Crowley, Manager of Optimized Services

Q: "My company has been fairly successful at driving organic search engine traffic to our website, but I feel like we could still do more. When performing research on the online marketing efforts of our competitors, specifically within organic search engine results pages, it doesn’t appear that my offline competitors equate 1:1 to who is outranking me in search. How much attention should I be paying to my offline competitors versus the websites and pages that are currently outranking me?"

A: Understanding the relationship between your offline and online marketing segments and how competition can differ across each segment is a step that many companies overlook, so be proud that you are ahead of the curve. Competitive research is an important aspect of any successful long-term search engine optimization strategy. Oftentimes, you will identify key differences in who is ranking well for your important keywords and phrases compared to who your offline competitors are. To answer your question, let’s look at three important steps you should take in order to identify your true competitors within organic search.

The web pages and companies that you compete against within search engines for traffic, conversions and customers may be very similar or very different from the companies you compete with offline. Performing the necessary due diligence to identify and prioritize your competition within organic search is key to allocating resources efficiently and overcoming whomever your competition is in the long run.

  1. Research what your offline competitors are doing online. If they do not have a robust presence and are clearly not allocating resources to online marketing, it may be more beneficial to focus your primary attention on the web pages and companies that are performing well in search, but are not your direct offline competition. Even if a company doesn’t compete with you online, they can still divert traffic away from your website within Google or Bing.
  2. Identify the web pages and companies that are currently performing well within organic search engine results pages for your important keywords and phrases. These may or may not include companies that you compete with offline. Create a basic S.W.O.T analysis to identify what they are doing well and what resources are available for you to close the gap or overcome them in the long run. If you identify a fragmented market where there are no clear competitors across all of your keywords, focus on your company’s most important business segments first. Consistently revisiting this prioritization will help you focus your efforts moving forwards.
  3. Track the progress of your company’s rankings and presence within organic search engine results pages. In addition to tracking your own company, allocate resources to tracking your competitors’ rankings for the keywords that are most important to you. This may include the tracking of websites and pages that are not your direct offline competition. If this is the case, remember to always track your offline competition as well. Tracking your offline competitors will help you notice any increases in their online marketing efforts early on. If you can be proactive in your competitive analysis and identify new movement early on, it will save you a lot of time in the long run.

The web pages and companies that you compete against within search engines for traffic, conversions and customers may be very similar or very different from the companies you compete with offline. Performing the necessary due diligence to identify and prioritize your competition within organic search is key to allocating resources efficiently and overcoming whomever your competition is in the long run.

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