Brick and Mortar Competition Versus Online Competition
Brick and mortar businesses focus on the nearest reasonable travel proximity and on products and services that fulfill the same need or are the same exact service. If you sell vacuum cleaners in a busy, walkable downtown area of a city, your radius for competition might only be a matter of blocks or subway stops; in a more rural area, you might extend 10-30 miles out because people will drive quite a ways for a good deal on a vacuum cleaner. You aren’t only competing against other standalone vacuum stores (not a common sight, honestly), but also all big-box stores, department stores, and other retailers who sell vacuum cleaners.
Online competition is an entirely different ballgame. Your “proximity” has to do with the kinds of keywords someone would use to find your retailer. If someone researched “affordable vacuum cleaner,” they might find your well-constructed blog on great vacuum cleaner options, but they also might find retailers all over the world who also have websites that rank highly for that keyword. For this reason, identifying your online competition is particularly important.
Handling Direct and Indirect Competition and Knowing the Difference
First, you need to know who is directly competing with you when you begin selling online. Direct competition involves other online retailers and service providers who offer the same or similar products/services; clearly, you are already trying to suss out who these companies are! You want to do extensive research on them in order to ensure that your product, service, and overall buyer’s experience is better than that of your competitors.
In the online landscape, however, you may accidentally be competing for search engine traffic with companies that aren’t really interested in selling the same thing you are. These are your indirect competitors: if you want to rank for a particular keyword and this other company decides it is worthwhile to rank for it, you will have a harder time showing up in the top spots when someone searches for your product/service. Say you are a boutique yoga studio in Denver, Colorado, but a major company that makes yoga mats decides that they want to appear high in the search rankings for “yoga class denver colorado” in order to sell yoga mats to the people who are looking for classes. This is an example of an indirect competitor; they aren’t necessarily taking business away from you, but their website content about yoga classes pushes your content further down the rankings.
SEO Gives You an Edge on Online Competition
The best way to stay out ahead of all your competition – brick and mortar, online, direct, and indirect – is to understand what search engines look for and optimize your website content so you will appear high in the search rankings, the process more commonly known as SEO. By discovering search terms that are neither too broad (“yoga” is an incredibly competitive keyword!) nor too narrow (very few people search for “yoga class saturday morning denver colorado june 2019”), you can then ensure that those terms appear judiciously inside the content of your website. Gone are the days of “keyword stuffing” – websites don’t put shoddy content up full of the target keywords if they want to have a chance of ranking. Instead, work to create helpful, useful content on the topic of the keyword, spreading it naturally throughout the text.
You can also choose to use PPC, pay-per-click, ads on the specific keywords where you won’t be charged a high rate just to compete indirectly; try to focus on PPC keywords that will put you “on top” in a list of your direct competitors but won’t waste your money against big companies that don’t sell the same thing you sell.
Ready to up your SEO and PPC capability and become the top competitor in your market? Contact our SEO and SEM experts here at SocialSEO to get started today!