When to Worry About Competitors

A client of ours was concerned about a competitor. You may be, too. Chances are you have more competitors online than you do in your physical neighborhood — maybe hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands. You can’t worry about all of them.

In this case, though, the competitor in question is an upstart muscling in on our client’s territory. They’ve been in a comfortable first place for a while for a particular set of keywords, and someone sent them a heads up saying this competitor was showing up ahead of them.

First, we had to remember that we no longer see the same things when we search for a term that anyone else is seeing. If I search for a term, my results will be affected by where my computer is at the time, what else I’ve searched for, and what my friends and associates have shared with me. These variables make enough difference that your #1 on Google is rarely my #1 on Google any more, especially when it comes to businesses in my area.

Check first and see how you’re doing. One place to check is in Google Analytics. In Traffic sources>Search engine optimization> Queries you can see your average placement in Google for the people who clicked through to your page. Mind you, this isn’t the same as your ranking or your average placement in the SERPs; it’s just the average for people who clicked through to you. However, it gives you some indication.

The screen shot below shows just a few of the terms that our lab site FreshPlans, ranks #1 for — on some people’s computers.

# 1 on Google

Our client was showing lots of #1 rankings and lots of visits for those keywords. He was still concerned, though, and introduced us to SEMrush, not a new tool but one we’d overlooked. With SEMrush, you can see what keywords you and a competitor are both ranking for, with estimates of the positions you both hold in the SERPs. We don’t know where they get their data, but we’re willing to try out any new tool, and this one showed us two things (to the extent that their estimates are accurate): first, that our client is still beating the pants off the competitor, and second, that the competitor is gaining.

If your competitor is moving up the SERPs faster than you are (to the extent that you can tell), you may not have to worry, but you sure have to pay attention.

We checked out the competitor. We’d had a look about a month ago and had pointed them out to our client, but they were looking a little more threatening now.  They were heavily focused on the set of keywords in question, and they were working on those keywords with strong content.

They had helpful videos at a strongly branded channel. They were answering people’s questions in forums — and then tweeting their answers. They were adding relevant content at their website.

That’s when to worry about your competitors. If it begins to look possible that they might be as good a source of information as you are, then they will begin to deserve rankings like yours.







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