The Value of Following Your Competitors Online
For many businesses their online marketing campaign is so focused on building their website and improving their SEO and SERPs that they miss one important aspect that should be a part of every internet marketing plan, finding and following your competitors online. Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is just good business practice but doing it online brings other benefits with it. Knowing who your competitors are can be a good place to start when planning how you intend to compete with them for your market share and checking them out online is a great way to learn who they are and what they are offering. There are now a lot of places on the internet where it is possible to leave information and links that go towards increasing your online profile and businesses that take advantage of more of them will always have a better online presence. Finding out where your competitors are getting their online edge can put you in a position in the SERPs to really be able to claim your share of the online market.
Following a competitor’s company blog can be a good way to keep up with developments in your industry and using the opportunity to leave constructive comments can be a means of beginning an affiliate relationship with them. Often competitors can use your services to compliment their own and leaving your comments on their blog is a way of letting them know that you are there. If your industry is dominated by a small number of big companies then finding other smaller businesses like your own and sharing links and swapping blog comments can be an effective method of improving the SEO for all of the businesses that are involved. Another benefit that comes from engaging your competitors on their websites is that it will help to establish your online professional reputation and increase your voice in your niche. Your professional profile begins with how other professionals in your industry see you and so it is important to make your contributions constructive rather than a blatant grab for customers.
This rule is less important on the various social media sites. Following your competitors on Facebook and Twitter can be an excellent way to become involved in the conversations in your niche. When a competitor makes a post to their brand page they are putting it up before the public and often this creates an opportunity to market your own products or services to their followers, especially if you are offering something that is complimentary to their posted promotion. It is also possible to posit your own products as a viable alternative to the ones that are being offered by your competitors but if you just leave comments that contribute nothing it won’t be long before you are blocked and the opportunity to interact will be lost. The general rules of etiquette for social network sites apply to following your competitors’ brands on them.
If you are consistently behind your competitors in the SERPs it can be worth taking a look at how well bookmarked they are on sites like Digg and Pinterest and make sure that you are at least as well represented on them. Following what your major competitors are doing online can give you a clearer picture of what direction your industry is heading in and what things look like dominating the market. If you are not including yourself in your niche’s online community then you are always going to be behind your competitors rather than being one of the businesses that are leading the way.