Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Marketing
Looking for a better web strategy?


May 25, 2010
By Heather Lutze

Topics

Keeping up with all the demands of managing a website can be daunting,
and keeping up with competitors near impossible. How do you manage your
time and resources while keeping your site equal to or above your
competitors’ sites?

Keeping up with all the demands of managing a website can be daunting, and keeping up with competitors near impossible. How do you manage your time and resources while keeping your site equal to or above your competitors’ sites?

The answer is simple. You spy on your competition. In fact, with a little covert intelligence gathering, you can see what other websites are doing better than, as good as, or worse than you. And best of all, this spying is perfectly legal!

If you’re like many website owners, you may feel your site is not meeting its full potential, causing you to lose revenue and repeat customers. Chances are that customers searching for a place to order pizza in your area are surfing online to find you and your website will be their first impression.

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Additionally, finding new customers may be challenging and you might feel like you are spinning your wheels without moving forward. If any of this sounds familiar, rest assured – you are not alone, and you can do something about it.

You can find many tools online that will enable you to assess your site’s findability compared with your competitors. While you won’t find anything as exciting as a missile firing from the hood of a brand new BMW, you will find some cool tools that are free or low cost, and that will give you an edge in marketing your site.

SEOmoz.org
These search engine optimization (SEO) tools measure the strength of pages, blogs and entire domains based on factors inherent to popularity, influence and ranking ability. This allows you to see your impact compared against others in your industry.

Websitegrader.com
This free SEO tool measures the marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity, and other technical factors. It also provides some basic advice on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective.

SpyFu.com
SpyFu.com is a free pay-per-click (PPC) tool that gives great intelligence on how competitive certain keywords are in Google. In addition to giving insight on the cost per click and average number of clicks per day, SpyFu also displays the ad text for the competitors in this space.

After running all three tools on your site as well as the sites of your three major competitors, you can see how you rank in comparison and where you need to make some changes. You may very well find that the competition is stronger in terms of SEO, that they have a better website strategy than you, and/or that they are using PPC more effectively. But don’t give up. You can use the data you gather to make some key strategic changes, become more competitive online, and start to match or exceed your competition’s high scores.

Knowing the spy intelligence data is the first step. Now you have to act on it and make some positive changes to your web strategy. Following are some common changes many website owners make after spying on their competition. It’s time to take your reconnaissance spy mission – and your web presence –  to the next level.

Blog as if your company depended on it
It’s very likely you’ll find that your competitors don’t have a blog, or that they’re not blogging often enough to be beneficial. Therefore, by simply setting up a blog and using core keywords in your blog posts, you can gain a tremendous advantage over the competition.

Have the best pick-up lines at the PPC cocktail party
For many website owners who do pay-per-click advertising, one of their biggest frustrations is having a low conversion rate. The key 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 you write your ads; otherwise, your competitors may have an identical or more compelling offer than you.

SpyFu shows what ads your competitors are running in PPC, as well as how competitive a keyword is. Using this tool, you may decide to select a longer tail keyword that has fewer competitors. For example, the term “video surveillance” has 21 competitors, while “video surveillance security system” has only seven competitors.

In addition, when crafting ad text, look at the key ad message of your competitors. If everyone else is advertising low prices, you should stand out by making a different offer, such as best quality, to differentiate yourself from other advertisers.

Select your spy team
While knowing what your competition is doing right now is great, you also need to monitor them for the long-term. But what if you don’t have a lot of free time to constantly scan the web for what your competitors are doing?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a team of spies crawling the Internet for you and sending you e-mail as soon as your competitors post anything? Meet your spy team: Google, Yahoo, and MSN alerts. Setting these alerts can keep you abreast of anything posted under your competitor’s names, website URLs and core keywords. Simply create your account with each system and list the keywords you want alerts on. Setting alerts can help you stay on top of your competitors without having to spend hours searching and reading the competitive landscape in search engines.

Using these tools and tips, your website stands a much better chance of beating your 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.


Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years as CEO of The Findability Group, formerly Lutze Consulting, – a Search Engine Marketing firm that works with companies to attain maximum Internet exposure. A nationally recognized speaker, she is the author of, “The FindAbility Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach To Search Engine Marketing” (Wiley and Sons). Heather is a lead speaker for Pay Per Click Summit, and previously spent two years speaking for Yahoo! Search Marketing. For more information, visit www.FindabilityGroup.com .


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