There’s a principle in small business marketing online that always seems to ring true: if you’ve thought of it, someone else is probably already doing it. It’s an extension of the old axiom “there are no new ideas.”
On the Internet, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if your competition has already beaten you to the Google punch, then you can actually learn something from them.
A website, of course, is important because customers are online like they’ve never been before. Chances are, your competition is already online looking to draw those customers toward them – and away from your small business.
If you want to start competing effectively in the online world, you have to start approaching small business marketing from a consumer mindset and do some competition analysis.
Discover Your Competition’s Tactics
Start off with a simple Google search query: take your competitor’s website and enter the following:
Note: the space between the first address and the second part of the query is important.
This query will show you where the top links pointing to your competitor’s website are coming from. Based on this information, you may be able to dig up the small business marketing tactics they’ve employed, such as listing themselves in the online Yellow Pages or on online directories.
What if You Don’t Know Your Competitors?
Then it’s time to adopt that consumer mindset and start searching Google like someone who’s searching for you.
For instance, let’s say you run a local flower shop. You might want to try searching for “flower shop Atlanta Georgia” if that’s where you’re from, or maybe even narrow it down to the specific suburb or town you hail from.
Keep track of the top sites that Google returns in these instances, because these are your major online competitors. (Just remember to keep it simple: don’t compete with “800Flowers.com” if you’re just a local shop).
Focus on the top results. These are the websites you’ll want to emulate. Then, apply the search query tactic we explained before to learn about where these sites are getting their links – and ask yourself how you can get the same links pointing to your small business website.
Is This Spying?
Don’t worry, it is not spying. When you’re entering these searches, you’re searching through what is already public knowledge. The key is to use this knowledge in action, and to find ways to get links to your site from the same sites sending your competitors their links. In short, wherever your top-performing competition is listed – that’s where you want to be listed, too.
Once you’ve identified what strategies work best in your market, be sure to use a service like WebStartToday.com to build a website that is customized to suit your specific industry.