Using SEO if You Have No Competitors

I’m writing a website for a county: pages for the assessor, the parks department, and all that. we normally check out an organization’s competitors when writing their website, and of course a county doesn’t really have competitors.  There aren’t competing coroner’s offices jousting with you for the keyword “county coroner’s office.” There’s no competing tax collector down the street.

It isn’t only government offices that struggle with this question. Perhaps you think your goods and services are so special that you have no competitors. Maybe you’re a nonprofit, so you don’t think of yourself as having competition. Maybe you’re not selling anything at your website, but just providing information as a service.

So do you still need to think about SEO?

Remember that SEO is a matter of communicating well with search engines. Would you want to be able to communicate well with the search engines regardless of competition? Most of us would. Here’s why a government website should still care about SEO:

  • You want to serve your constituents well. It’s hard enough to get people to pay taxes cheerfully without making it hard to find the information they need to do so. The same is true for any organization. SEO is about usability, not just marketing.
  • You want to make sure people are aware of the benefits you offer. If your Parks and Recreation department has wonderful things to offer but citizens don’t know that, use will be lower than it could and your funding can be affected. The same is true for nonprofits, and of course for specialized products and services.
  • You actually do have competitors, whether you know it or not. Nobody’s competing with a county to offer jails or car tags, but they may have private competitors for parking, pavilion rentals, jobs, human services, and many other items. A radical new product is in competition with whatever people used before this product came along. A nonprofit is in competition for volunteers, donors, and grant money. If your constituents look for solutions to the problems you can solve, do they find you — or someone else?

You always need to think about SEO when you write content for a website, unless you’re just talking to yourself.

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