One of the first things you need to look into is who exactly you are competing against. You may already know your off-line competitors, but you also need to know what websites dominate the top positions for your targeted phrases. This research gives you a good idea of what sites you’ll be going up against as you optimize.
As you look at the sites that are in the top positions, you need to see if they are in fact sites that are in your same industry. Often times what you think is a good keyword will produce results completely different from what you expected. It may very well be that your audience is performing different searches than you thought they would and/or the search engines analyze that phrase completely different than you had expected.
If you don’t get the results you were seeking, then perform different keyword searches until the results show sites that are in your same industry. Once you get competitor websites coming up in the search results you can start getting a sense of how competitive you’ll have to be to outperform them.
Are you looking at average sites with very little name recognition and financial marketing investment, or are you seeing the giants of your industry that have deep pockets funding their online marketing efforts? Again, knowing this information can help you set the right course for success.
For full awareness of the challenge before you, you’ll need to perform some of this competitor research now using typical industry keywords and then again after the keyword research phase gives you additional search phrases as your consumers perform them.
Once you know what you are up against for all the various highly searched terms you have a choice to make. Will you compete on the same level as those with the deepest pockets and largest marketing budgets? Or will you compete on a more manageable level with other sites within your range?
If you’re one of the big guys with deep pockets, then by all means go for it. If not, and unless you’re ready to invest big with little short-term payout, don’t try to be a David up against Goliath. A good strategy is to begin your efforts on a more manageable scale that will ultimately start bringing in returns sooner rather than later, producing quality results and increased sales.
You can then use that foundation, having built your site up and achieved a status as an industry authority, to work yourself up to the more competitive keywords. The investment over the long term is usually about the same, the difference is how quickly you start bringing in quality traffic and increased sales.
This post is part of a continuing series on the topic of:
Optimizing For Maximum Search Engine Performance
Sub-Topic: Know Your Competition
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