We often hear complaints from people who feel that Google doesn’t treat them right. We hear passionate rants about how the vastly inferior competition gets better treatment, and suggestions that Google has some personal ax to grind, or that the competitor is doing something nefarious to get their undeserved rankings. Their website, people tell us, deserves better rankings than it has. It just doesn’t have the rank it deserves.
Often we can look and see why the competitor outranks the person doing the ranting.
One case turned out to be particularly interesting, though, because the company in question so clearly deserved the rankings they wanted.
The rank you deserve
Let’s be honest: if you sell gears, you don’t necessarily deserve the top ranking on the search engines any more than any other seller of gears. In this case, though, we’re talking about the company that makes the gears, the company whose name is on the gears, the company that has been selling those gears for fifty years. And yet this company isn’t even on the first page for most of the keywords they want.
Let’s say they’re the Acme Gear Company. And let’s say that the company that’s eating their lunch is the Apex Hardware Group. In fact, there are plenty of companies ahead of Acme on most searches, but Apex is consistently ahead of Acme on searches for Acme gears.
Now, Apex has been a little bit hostile to Acme. Acme has acme.com, but Apex has registered acmegears.com, acme.net, acmegears.biz, acmegearcompany.com — everything they could think of. They’ve also done nice pages on their site about the high quality of Acme gears, the traditions of the company, and why Apex gears make good substitutes for Acme gears.
It’s not illegal, but a competitor can cause you trouble with this kind of behavior, and they’ve probably done it on purpose.
But Acme hasn’t been minding their virtual store the way they should.
How to fight back
If your company is behind some strong competitors, what steps can you take?
- Strengthen your content. The search engines look at Apex, with its keyword-rich content about Acme gears, and at Acme.com which doesn’t even have an “About Us” page, and they draw reasonable conclusions about who is the best choice for people seeking Acme gears. Compare your site honestly with your competitors, and make sure you’re communicating well with the search engines.
- Watch your titles and meta descriptions. When a human visitor looks at the search results page for “Acme gears,” she sees something like this:
Acme gears of all sizes
Acme gears for home and business use. Best prices, free shipping!
www.apexhardware.com Cached – Similar
Acme gears are the preferred gear style for many uses. We offer the best selection of Acme style gears. Use our handy comparison chart to order with confidence. Free shipping!
www.apexhardware.com/acmegears.html – Cached – Similar –
What will the searcher choose? Not the first one on the list. When their minimalist entry shows up lower down on the page, which is the case for most of the possible searches, Acme.com has no chance. Make sure that your meta language does its job.
- Do your linkbuilding. Acme hasn’t done any linkbuilding. As an established company, they have some natural links they’ve gained over time as people were moved to link to them, but it’s surprising to see how many missed opportunities they have — they’re not represented in the industrial directories, they’re not present at the forums discussing gears, and they just generally don’t have online visibility. Fixing that — with some attention to their anchor text –would help the search engines understand what they’re all about.
Notice that we’re not talking here about gaming the system or duping the search engines. Acme should be the first choice when people search for Acme gears. The search engines want to give people what they’re looking for. Acme — and possibly your company, too — just needs to cooperate.