One of the first things to do before starting
up any business is to investigate the competition.
Any business owner knows this is crucial; to determine
how to position a business in the market, who
to target, what prices to set and who to keep
an eye on. The same is true of the internet marketplace.
However, this understanding is rarely transferred
when a business decides to â€go
onlineâ€. Perhaps the initial
setup is so daunting that little thought is spared
for anything beyond the layout and content of
a website. The internet, however is still a marketplace,
and one that is growing exponentially. Those same
business skills need to be put to use here too.
If you want to learn from the success of your
competitors you first need to think like a search
engine. By mimicking popular keywords and phrases
you can benefit from traffic that would otherwise
be directed to your competitors sites.
Keywords are contained in what are called â€Meta
Tagsâ€. These are tags that are
found in the source code at the top of a webpage
and include descriptions, titles and key words.
Search engines use this information (in addition
to content) to rank your page for different search
strings. You can access this information by viewing
the source of any website, just simply select
If after looking at this code you fear it resembles
some alien language, do not despair! There are
many programs available that will search competitorsâ€
sites for this information and provide a full
report: in plain English. Just look for anything
about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it is
one of the new hot topics; and you will be swamped
with products. The danger is to believe too much
of the hype, donâ€t pay for promises;
search engines are not as easily tricked as we
Another key ingredient is links. Your page will
be ranked favourably if it is viewed by the search
engines as being an authority on a given subject.
Links work a bit like votes, if someone links
to your site they are effectively â€casting
a voteâ€ of approval. However
the weight of this vote is affected by how many
other sites they link to, so beware of â€link
farmsâ€ (pages contained entirely
of links) because they will not help improve your
siteâ€s positioning. The easiest
way to obtain links is through online directories
â€ although people may not visit
your site directly through these links, it will
help with overall search engine positioning.
Returning to the competition; you can discover
who is linking to other sites by using an online
link popularity checker. This way you can try
and get these sites to link to you also. Remember,
directed traffic is the best, so aim for links
from sites which contain similar content to yours.
If you are a business selling stamps, your best
links would be from stamp appreciation pages â€
The internet has been established for a while
now. It is no longer an unknown jungle. As a new
business entering this arena you can learn from
other peopleâ€s successes as
well as their mistakes!
About the author:
Felicity Anderson is a web designer and communications
manager who uses the internet as her main source
of promotion. If you would like to know more about
anything mentioned in this article please visit
her webpage where you can access contact details.
>> Return to Web
Design Article Knowledgebase Index