Know Your Search Engine Optimization Competition
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, your competitors may not be whom you think.
One of the first things I ask for from new SEO clients is a list of competitors. This usually arrives from their marketing office and includes other companies that provide the same product or service as our client.
This in-sector competitor list contains useful information, especially for researching keywords and phrases. But, while there will be overlap, this is not their List of Internet Competitors.
Internet Competitors are companies that occupy the same marketing space that your company occupies or the places where you want your business or your products or your services seen.
Seattle, Search Engine Optimization and a Rubber Chicken
If you asked the person at the counter, he or she might tell you that one of their competitors is a rubber chicken seller three blocks east and to the right. However, that rubber chicken shop has no presence on the web. It is not an Online Competitor.
Perhaps you know about another rubber chicken web site? Yes, they are online, but they don’t possess high enough rankings to be visible. This web site does not belong on your competitor list.
Your competitors are
- The top 10 to 30 listings for Rubber Chicken, Rubber Animal, and other top organic search terms.
- The paid listing also present on these organic search pages.
- Paid listing are there by virtue on their financial investment. You cannot push them out with an organic listing.
- You can make sure that your organic listing is better designed and offers a more compelling message than the paid listings.
- Sites that use paid listings are affected by Google’s quality score. Even if they do not rank organically they can offer insight.
This is where the eyeballs are! They are the ones you must squabble with for consumer mouse clicks.
- The organic results include various rubber chicken sellers. They also contain a motorcycle service center, a university literary journal, a paper arts supply shop and Wikipedia.
- The paid results on the right side consist mostly of novelty shops.
- On the top, the One Box contains Google Shopping (product search) results, two novelty stores and a big box pet supplies retailer.
Not all your competitors sell rubber chickens!
The Power of High Search Engine Rankings
In search engine optimization we used to say the key to success was being found within the first three pages or 30 listings of popular search queries. Time changes all things. Today search engines produce much better results. That means a first page or top 10 ranking is more often the requisite for triumph.
In 2006 AOL released a database filled with search data. From this we learned quite a bit about which listings get clicked on. Here are the click frequencies based on search engine rank, 1 to 10 and beyond.
Listings with a rank greater than 10 received a combined 11.30% of all clicks or visits. Analyst aggregated these figures from all of the AOL data. Results for individual search queries will vary.
This AOL data demonstrates the importance of high organic search engine rankings and getting onto the first page for popular queries, particularly in Google which receives 59.8% of searches. Yahoo! comes in second with 21.3% of searches.
Competitive SEO Knowledge
Anyone who vies for success should know:
- What are the top ten websites for each major search query?
- What are the competitive search ranking factors of each of these sites (page count, external links, keywords in titles, etc.)?
- Are their ranking factor anomalies, like a high ranking from a small site with few links?
- Which web sites rank for multiple major organic search queries?
Look for trends and outliers.
- Trends tell you the norm, what you need to accomplish to earn a top rank.
- Outliers offer-up insight into search engine behavior, at least for that particular search query. They can also reveal possible shortcuts to that top 10 ranking.
The adage is true. The more you know… Ultimately, search engine optimization comes down to three things: knowledge about SEO, knowledge about specific query results and knowing how to combine them successfully. That plus the will and determination will earn you your high search engine rankings.