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It can be frustrating managing a business with an online presence. You have a good website, easy navigation, top quality content, and your products and services more than competitive – yet you struggle to gain that front page listing in search results. Before throwing the towel in and looking at alternatives, a little competitive intelligence may alter the picture completely.

The factors that are going in to determining search rankings are always in flux. Some factors only need time, for example, inbound links. It is also important to understand that search rankings are so flexible that two different people entering the same search may see different results. Google is one search engine that also takes into account the surfing/searching history of the user.

Competitive intelligence can give you a snapshot of where your competitors are today. You can use this data to plot their progress over time compared to yours. Often, you will find that your competitors are only progressing slowly, if at all, while you are moving ahead at a faster rate.

This leaves you with two options, to either work a little harder at improving those ranking factors, or to let time deliver the fruit of your previous efforts. Competitive intelligence is never a one off factor. By continuously monitoring your competitors, you will gain a real insight into how far they really are ahead of you. A word to the wise, however: Don’t forget to look behind at those who may be trying to sneak their way past you. Remember, your competitors are not just those who appear in front of you; there are just as many following on behind you.

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