by Heather Lutze
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept it: Know Thy Competitor
As a website owner, you
wear many hats: webmaster,
content writer, e-mail manager,
and marketing guru, to
name a few. Keeping up with
all the demands of managing
a website can be daunting
and keeping up with competitors
is nearly impossible.
How do you manage your
time and resources as well
as keep your site equal or
above your competitors?
This month I’ll address
how to “spy” on your competitors,
as well as highlight
some competitive tools to
help position your company
for ultimate findability.
Our subject this month
Owner Ben Otano is a private investigator and police officer for
the state of New York. BJSpyAssociates.com sells consumer spy
gadgets including video surveillance, counter surveillance and
personal protection equipment. After closing his retail business,
Otano successfully transferred his loyal brick-and-mortar
customer base to his e-commerce website. According to
Google Results, BJSpyAssociates’ primary competitors are
SpyAssociates.com, Spyville.com and BrickHouseSecurity.com.
Otano indicated SafetyBasement.com and SpyBase.com as his
In the theme of covert intelligence gathering, let’s take a
careful look at what these websites are doing better, equal or
worse. This will help make a number of findability recommendations
to get BJSpyAssociates.com found by consumers.
Competitors are winning the battle for new customers
“Our website has not met its full potential and we know we have
been missing revenue. Our loyal customers keep coming back but
the lack of new customers is frustrating — we feel like we are
spinning our wheels without moving forward.”
— Ben Otano, owner, BJSpyAssociates.com
Unfortunately for BJSpyAssociates.com, their competitors
have better findability and, as a result, Otano is losing a
huge percentage of potential sales. Currently
BJSpyAssociates.com has a Findability Score of 39 percent,
based primarily on a poor pay-per-click (PPC) Campaign, bad search engine optimization (SEO) design, the lack of
having a blog and social media efforts. I recommend giving
its competitors a taste of their own medicine; let’s “spy”
to see exactly where Otano’s site isn’t measuring up.
Gather Competitive Intelligence — “007 Style”
We don’t have something as exciting as a missile firing
from the hood of a brand new BMW, but these tools are free
or low cost and will give you an edge in marketing your site.
Tool #1 – SEOmoz.org
SEOmoz measures the strength of pages, blogs and entire
domains based on factors inherent to popularity, influence and
ranking ability. It also measures your impact compared against
others in your industry.
Tool #2 – WebsiteGrader.com
WebsiteGrader is a free SEO tool from HubSpot that measures
marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides a score
that incorporates website traffic, SEO, social popularity and
other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on
how a website can be improved from a marketing perspective.
Tool #3- SpyFu.com
SpyFu is a free PPC tool that gives great intelligence on how
competitive certain keywords are in Google. In addition to
giving insight on cost-per-click (CPC) and average number of
clicks per day, SpyFu also displays the ad text for competitors
in this space.
After running our tools, we determined:
1. The competition is stronger. In the SEO Domain
Strength Tool (SEOmoz’s Trifecta), BJSpyAssociates.com
scored only 5 percent, whereas its main competitors scored 30
percent or higher.
2. The competition had a better website strategy.
In the WebsiteGrader tool, BJSpyAssociates scored a 67 for
organic findability. Unfortunately, its competitors score in the
3. Competition is fierce in PPC. SpyFu shows that for
most of BJSpyAssociates.com’s keywords, many competitors
vie for the traffic and most of them offer special incentives to
click on their ad.
BJSpyAssociates.com needs to become more competitive
online, matching or exceeding its competitors’ scores.
We have used the tools to pinpoint distinct differences in their
approach and technical challenges among BJSpyAssociates.com’s
top three competitors. These recommendations are based on the
results from running the ratings reports in these tools. It’s time to
take our reconnaissance mission to the next level.
The Recipe for Success … Shaken, Not Stirred
Tip #1: Blog as if your company depended on it
HubSpot data shows that according to the search engines, none
of its competitors have a blog associated with their website.
For example, SafetyBasement.com has a blog sitting off-site
on Blogger and, because it is off-site, they get no search engine
credit for it. So by simply setting up a blog on the BJSpyAssociates.com website, including it in the sitemap, and
using core keywords in its blog posts, it will gain a tremendous
competitive advantage. SEOmoz also indicates in its scoring
metrics that having a blog is an important competitive factor.
BJSpyAssociates might also want to add some del.icio.us bookmarks
to match the competition.
Tip # 2: Have the best pick-up lines at the PPC
“Our number one frustration was the number of conversions from
all of our pay-per-click campaigns and the fact that other ads from
much smaller websites were ranking higher than ours.”
— Ben Otano, owner, BJSpyAssociates.com
One of the keys to running a successful PPC campaign is
having solid ad text (the four-line entry that will display on the
results pages in the area of the page called “Sponsored Links”).
It is extremely important to understand the ad text landscape
when writing ads; otherwise your competitors may have an
identical or more compelling offer.
SpyFu shows us what ads competitors are running
in PPC, as well as the keywords’ competitive level. Using this
tool, I recommend BJSpyAssociates.com select a longer-tail
keyphrase, such as “Video surveillance security system,” which
has only seven competitors, opposed to “video surveillance”
which has 21 competitors. In addition, when crafting ad text,
almost all of the competitors are advertising “low prices,” so
BJSpyAssociates.com could include a different offer such as
“Best Quality” or “Free Shipping” to differentiate themselves.
Tip # 3: Selecting Your Spy Team
This SEOmoz report shows that BJSpyAssociates.com has no
Google News Mentions, whereas its three competitors have several. Otano needs to create more press releases about his
company and products.
Your Spy Kit
Spying on the competition can
be a time-intensive endeavor.
You need a team. Meet your new
top agents: Google, Yahoo! and
Windows Live Alerts. Setting
these alerts can keep you abreast
of anything posted under your
competitor’s names, website
URL’s and core keywords.
• Google.com/Alerts — Sends updates regarding any targeted
keywords from Google
• Alerts.Yahoo.com — Sends updates regarding any targeted
keywords from Yahoo!
• Alerts.Live.com — Sends updates regarding any targeted
keywords from Windows Live
Setting alerts could help BJSpyAssociates.com stay on top of
its competitors, without having to spend hours searching the
competitive landscape in search engines.
Using these tools and recommendations, BJSpy-
Associates.com stands a much better chance of beating its competitors
to gain valuable new markets of consumers. Remember,
for successful findability you must understand the findability of
your competitors and adjust your campaigns accordingly. By
matching and beating the PPC, SEO and social media offerings of
your competitors, you are setting yourself up to succeed on your
Internet marketing mission.
Need Website Findability?
Do you know a website that could use a facelift, or have you
tried any of these suggestions on your site? Send your suggestions
to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always on the
lookout for my next Findability Makeover Subject!
About the Author: Heather Lutze has spent the last 10
years helping business owners get their enterprises noticed on the Web
by their target audiences. She is the author of “The Findability
Formula: The Easy, Non- Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing.”
by Wiley & Sons. She is a Marketing Speaker and runs a Denver Internet Marketing agency.
Visit FindabilityFormula.com for
tools and resources to increase your site’s findability.