Evaluate Your Website's Competition

Evaluate Your Website's Competition

Who is my website competition? More specifically, what other websites would people want to (1) visit, or (2) search for that are selling the same thing I am? The first link in the chain of logic is, "What am I selling on my website?" A service? A product? Information? This question must be answered first. That seems easy enough, though it is possible to become confused. Let's take a look:

What am I Selling on My Website?

Q: I have a landscaping company, and I want a website to show photos of my work. I also carry a special, high-end fertilizer that I wish to sell online for the convenience of my customers. I am thinking of posting articles about lawn and garden maintenance. Am I selling a service, product or information?

A: You are selling a service. It is assumes that the fertilizer is not your main revenue stream. The photos are there to create interest and assist you in closing the sale with potational customers. The articles contain key words and other information to help people search for your business. You want these visitors to get a good impression of your company so they will make contact.

Q: I have a side business selling tied flies and would like to reach more customers by selling online. I have a lot of tips and tricks related to fly fishing that I could share with customers. There are some people I know that provide related services that would like to advertise on my website. Am I selling a service, product or information?

A: You are selling a product. The articles you publish will generate traffic from the search engines and garner trust with your shopping base. This creates return shoppers as well. Promoting related services adds value to your website over others that may be selling a similar product without such a personal thouch. Ths says you want to sell quality flies to customers of all skill levels.

Q: I have a travel website featuring many destinations around the world. I have photos, links, Amazon books, and hotel coupons available to visitors. I would like some visitors to pay for the really good deals. The more visitors I can get, the more clicks I will get on the ads and featured products. Am I selling a service, product or information?

A: You are selling information. You have all the details you need in the features about various destination. Linking to related books or products directs readers to other sources of information and helpful items, which creates trust and return traffic. Selling premium access memberships generates revenue and provides a program where other service providers and sellers can list their wares with you.

I am Selling a Service on My Website

Many small businesses fall into this category. You want to have visitors find your website, but then pick up the phone and call you, or use the contact form to send an email. In short, you are looking to generate referrals. Probable competitors include other local businesses providing similar services.

I am Selling a Product on My Website

This would be a typical e-commerce website. The number of products are irrelevent - the important fact is that selling things (tangible or not) is the main thrust of your website. Competitors may include big dogs such as Amazon.com or Ebay, or possibly small niche websites.

I am Selling Information on My Website

Selling information? Yes. This would be your news, portal or community-based websites. How do you "sell" this? Through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, memberships, or affiliate program revenue. Likely competitors could include personal blogs, online magazines, or even TV personalities.

How to Find Competition on the Web

No matter what you are selling, you will need to do some searching on the major search engines - Google and Bing. (Yahoo uses the same results as Bing.) Think about what search phrases you would like to target. You need to pick something specific, yet succinct. Let's go back to our examples above:

Not Specific Enough Getting there... Good Search Phrase
Landscaping Landscaping Services Landscaping Services < my location here >
Tied Flies Buy Tied Flies Buy < decriptive adjective > Tied Flies
Travel Travel Information Travel Information < specific destination >

Not Specific Enough: These searches could come from people looking to buy what you're selling, however it could  just people who want to go to school for that industry, people who want information to do it themselves, etc. Even if you were to rank high for one of these phrases, you will be less likely to get click-throughs and convert these visitors into sales.

Getting There: These search phrases have at least narrowed the topic to one that elimiates casual or education-related searches. These people are looking to buy what you are selling, but the results will include a much wider range of competition. If you can provide your goods or services regardless of location, these searches will get you traffic and leads.

Good Search Phrases: Not only are these searches, narrowed down to the specific good sand services you provide, they will yeild highly interested and motivated visitors who are ready to act on your messages. You may not get as great a volume of traffic, but it will be higher converting traffic. These are the types of phrases you should be looking for.

What Am I Looking For?

Once you have decided on some good search phrases to target, start searching and see what comes up. Several things to take note of:

  • There are many/few matching results
  • The results are well/poorly matched
  • Map does/does not show up with locations
  • Big brands do/don't dominate the results
  • Some unexpected results crop up

What Should You Do With This Information?

The best situation to hope for is a search engine results page (SERP) that has several websites similar to what you were planning on, but not exactly offering the same thing.  If big brands are dominating, you may want to think twice. Are your products sufficiently differentiated to justify competing with that kind of presence. If you are coming up with strange results, you need to go back and consider what you are selling and how people are searching for this.