We would all like a little more control sometimes. We’re so used to accepting things the way they are we often don’t recognise a choice when we see one. One of the great creative freedoms of search engine optimisation (SEO) is that you actually get some kind of choice over who your competitors are.
I like to think of each search term like a market, and within this market are competitor websites. Even if you provide a similar product or service to your next competitor in the real world, you still have the freedom to adjust the wordy pitch you use with the search engines, allowing you to carefully pick your fights. It may sound like I’m stating the obvious, but this paves the way for The Manchester SEO Blog’s guide to choosing your keyword competitors carefully.
How Well Searched for is Your Target Search Term?
It may be the first phrase you thought of, but this does not automatically mean it has a large search volume behind it. Consider the number of searches done on this phrase as the prize you stand to gain. Does the extra work required for a competitive keyword justify the potential gain you stand to make?
Could You Pick Up Long Tail Phrases Around Your Target Phrase?
Following from the previous point – would you actually benefit more by picking up a range of long tail phrases around your target phrase? The search volume behind long tail phrases will be lower, but they will also be easier for you to pick up, working out better value to you.
Is Your Search Term Ambiguous or Introduce Unnecessary Competitors?
If your search term lists competitors who don’t actually supply the same product or services you do, it is worth refining your target phrase to something more specific. Remember, that if you accidentally draw clicks for people looking for something entirely different (but ambiguously similar to your phrase), your bounce rate will go up and your listings will suffer! To test this, simply have a careful look the websites listed for your target phrase. Are there any competitors you didn’t expect to see? Why is this and could you perhaps refine your search term to something a bit more specific?
Are Brand Names Important?
If your industry has big brand names, it would be worth including these. It is very easy to focus on the new customer by optimising for general phrases, but there will be searchers out there who already know what they want and will be searching for a particular brand or model! Obviously, be sure to optimise yourself for things you actually supply, and avoid search terms in the hope to gain other peoples’ customers. This will not work and will just cause your bounce rate to go up!
Have You Given Enough Detail?
It is always best to include as much detail as possible. Even if you sell ‘scarves’ be sure to include the material (are they wool scarves?) and also the colour. Each product and service is different, and while this example is probably a little generalised, the same is true of almost every industry. More detail is better!
Can You Offer Something Your Chosen Competitors Cannot?
It is worth putting yourself in direct competition of a website if you notice it is lacking in some way. If you provide the most comprehensive information on a topic, then it is in Google’s own interest to place you first! If you notice a particularly weak series of sites in a particular area, deliver the knock out blow with your information!
The best overview is to analyse your real-worldly competitor websites carefully, identify weak areas that you will be able to make significant progress in, and avoid general phrases and big competitors!