I’ve been reading quite a bit recently about SEO and stuff (as you’d expect) and it becoming more apparent that if you have big competitors in your industry who are pretty much everywhere online you do actually have the ability to piggy-back a little off their success rather than get totally trampled down by them.
My main reason for thinking this is that it appears the major search engines are actually focusing more and more on unique content and also on the relevance/context of links. So with a little bit of guerilla SEO you can actually use your competitors success as marketing leverage. Let me explain a little:
1) It is becoming more and more apparent that relevant outbound links from your site to another can boost your ranking. Imagine Google’s position – for each search query they want to return sites which provide good quality, relevant and regularly updated information. I’m confident that most sites provide relevant content to what they are talking about but not everyone has the time or energy to continue to write streams of content and keep updating their sites. But – it’s probably true to say that your competitors do – so why not link to their new content and maybe even provide a quick critique of it on your site. This way you get regular, up-to-date content on your site and the ability to control the context of how it is delivered. Now I agree that this is not always something you can do because you want to avoid sending your visitors to your competitors – but if you can then it’s a great way to build new content quickly.
2) If you’re not confident enough to link directly to your competition, you could always align your incoming links against theirs – by using co-citation techniques. Just search out who is linking to your competitors and try to get your link placed next to theirs.
3) Another method is to find out what search terms your competitors are paying for (or optimising for) and then blog on any relevant forum/blog using those terms, citing your competitor but also providing relevant information about yourself.
4) Learn from their tactics – work out what they are doing to advertise online and what keywords they are using. Analyse their web pages and their SEO – then take the bits which you feel are working well for them and copy.
5) If all else fails try creating an affiliation with your competitor for mutual benefit. There are loads of ways businesses can work together online to benefit each other’s sales and not damage their own brand position. The only thing to be careful of is to stay well away from anti-competitive practices – I would not recommend you artificially inflate/deflate keyword prices for your own gain – it’s not a good tactic if you want to stay in business!
I’m sure there are many other ways of using your competitors as marketing leverage – I’d love to hear some of your suggestions so feel free to comment below.