When it comes to the Internet, any talk of competition invariably revolves around search results. For many businesses, their eyes are firmly set on outranking those above them in search results. Search is a significant player when it comes to delivery or traffic, but they are not the only players. What is important is to identify who your real competitors are.
Enter a search term and you will often find that amongst the top ten pages listed are sites like Wikipedia, articles in article directories, and perhaps blogs produced purely for Adsense or affiliate revenue. While these sites are competitors when it comes to search traffic, they are not true competitors when it comes to doing business. As I mentioned, search is not the only source of traffic either.
Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are also now capable of delivering significant streams of traffic to your website. Do you know who your competitors are on any of these sites? It is equally important to assess how they are engaging with their followers and whether or not they are receiving any significant traffic from these site.
Another area that you should include in your research is paid search. There are many businesses that survive quite happily on the traffic derived from paid search. They don’t involve themselves pro-actively in either organic search or social media marketing, they let the paid search results find their traffic for them.
There are many other sources of traffic such as forums and general advertising. To be effective in your competitive intelligence program, you need to look well beyond organic search. You should have a fair idea of what their main source of traffic is, how well it is converting, and whether or not there is an opportunity there that you could exploit. Your real competitors are not always through organic search so identify your true competitors,then work out how you can compete against them.