Competition in the context of e-business refers to any business or website that is trying to rank for the same terms as you and that is trying to reach the same customers as you. Nearly any business will face some competition and the way you approach this is going to greatly impact on your success.
Getting to the top of Google isn't as important as being the top relevant result on Google. If you are a locally-based company selling a certain product and the links above you don't offer the same products in your area, then you'll still probably get the lion's share of the traffic and the business.
Beating your competition is more important than success based on arbitrary numbers and scores.
The question becomes: how do you start to rank above that competition on Google? Here are some strategies you can use, even if the site in question perhaps has a bigger budget to spend on social media or has been around longer than you.
Find Their Backlinks
The first thing to do is to perform a backlink analysis of the competing site in question. You can do this using a number of tools, or even just by searching for the full domain in Google.
Once you do this, you will be able to see where the links to that site are coming from. This is good for you for a number of reasons. For starters, it shows you the strategy of your competition, but at the same time it will also give you a selection of site to approach for a backlink that you know are willing to link to sites like yours. In short, these links are almost guaranteed.
At the same time, you know that these links are ‘good links’ that will help you to get to the top of Google rather than getting you penalized. It worked for them, so it should work for you too!
Then look for sites that are like these and go on from there to get an even wider backlink profile than the competition.
Find Their Keywords
You can also get one-up on your competition by looking at the keywords they're targeting. Keywords play less of a central role in search engine optimization than they once did, but they are still a crucial factor.
How do you do this? One option is to try viewing their page source, which might contain keywords in their meta tags. Some sites don't do this anymore, but there's a good chance many business blogs will.
Another strategy is to look at their AdWords campaigns using spy tools. If they are running one, then they will likely be targeting the same keywords and phrases through here that they are through their SEO.
Improve on Their Design and Content
You should also take a look around the sites of your competition simply to get inspiration for your own design and content. You want to differentiate yourself, so outright copying is not the objective here. Rather, you want to see what works on their site and what doesn't and then learn from this in your own design. Likewise, in terms of content look at the most popular posts on their blog. How can you write similar content, while giving it a unique spin and making your version more informative and useful?
You can even consider speaking to some of their visitors (contact them through a forum or even the comments section of their blog) in order to get direct feedback on what they think works or doesn’t.
It’s important not to directly copy the competition. As well as learning what you should emulate and what works for them, this is also a good example to see what’s missing. What niches haven’t they covered? What is the gap in their market that you can fill? Where can you succeed in places that they are failing?
There is a term in business called benchmarking. This means finding a business that operates in the same niche or industry as you and then comparing yourself to them. That means not only comparing yourself to them in terms of their brand and design, but also in terms of success. Keeping an eye on how a small business is growing, or how they are climbing the ranks is going to help you to then do the same thing. At the same time, it gives you an idea of what’s possible and lets you see if you are fulfilling your full potential or squandering.
If a site started new when you did and now has 2,000,000 views a day when you only have 100,000 – then you know you need to up your game!
Work With Them
Finally, if you can't work with them… consider joining them. If you can exchange links (be careful) or send customers to each other's sites (perhaps by catering to slightly different areas of the market), then you can both benefit from one another's success and both climb up the rankings.
Very often, you’ll find that you don’t have to directly compete. Are there slightly different aspects to your services/products that might help you to target marginally different businesses? Is this something that you can use to your advantage in future?
This is an example of influencer marketing and it can be a very powerful tool when done correctly. The aim here is to find ways to work together by offering Instagram shout outs or by referencing each other in content. If there is overlap in your audience but not too much direct competition, then this can give both of you a huge boost.