Let Your Competitors have the Top Rankings on Google

Let Your Competitors have the Top Rankings on Google

By Chad PollittApr 18 /2012

Top Google Rankings Are Not That ImportantAs with many posts, this was inspired by another. Jesse Noyes of Eloqua wrote a post a few weeks back entitled, "Why Your Competitor’s High Google Ranking May be a Good Thing." The bottom line of his post was that “marketers need to evaluate sponsored search campaigns in the context of where they appear with organic search results, not as a strictly separate entity.”

Business professors from the University of Texas, University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University discovered “that competing high-ranking organic search results may actually boost the performance of your paid search ads.” The study is very interesting and eyebrow-raising, to say the least. However, this isn’t the only reason your competitor’s high Google rankings may be a good thing.

Assessing Why They Rank High

It’s very important to make an honest assessment of how your competitors are ranking high on Google. The audit should answer the following questions:

  • Does the competitor have a blog?
  • Is the competitor active in social media?
  • Is the competitor using content marketing?
  • Is the competitor’s website technically optimized to near perfection?
  • How many keyword phrases do they rank high for?
  • Does the competitor have thousands of inbound links?
  • Do they have a competitive keyword phrase in the URL?

The point of the above is to determine whether or not the competition is ranking high from deploying older technical SEO tactics or from doing full-fledged inbound marketing. Google’s algorithm and indexing system has substantially evolved over the last 18 months. This SEO video goes into the details of the evolution and how it affects your website.

SEO Post-2011

If the competition ranks well because of pre-Google evolution factors and not inbound marketing, then your competitors have their resources dedicated to a dying form of SEO and are vulnerable to newer inbound marketing tactics. Not only that, but they’re probably measuring SEO success the wrong way – rankings.

It’s well-known that many factors contribute to person X getting entirely different search results than person Y using the same query. Who cares if a competitor ranks in the top 10 for 20, 50 or 100+ prudent keyword phrases? Just because you see certain results doesn’t mean everyone else does. In addition, 20% to 60% of the keyword phrases driving traffic aren’t reported by analytics.

Tracking the Correct SEO Metric

Ultimately, the correct metric to track SEO success should be the number of keyword phrases driving traffic, regardless of where they rank. As Douglas Karr points out in the pie chart below, 72% of all the organic search traffic to the MarketingTechBlog.com comes from keyword phrases that don’t reside on the first page.

Traditional SEO is Dead

Companies only have a finite amount of resources to dedicate to marketing. If your competitors are dedicating large amounts of their budgets to the 28% of the pie chart (first page of Google) above they may be blissfully ignorant of the massive opportunity they’re missing.

Taking Advantage of the Blind Spot

You, on the other hand, will be poised to grab the bulk of the pie chart by deploying an aggressive content marketing campaign. Ideally, your blog should publish new content five to 21 times per week. Unless you sell pills, porn or poker, that level of activity should substantially increase website traffic, conversions and customers over time.


By using up a large percentage of the marketing budget on ranking for 20, 50 100+ keyword phrases and ignoring content marketing, companies are actually limiting the number of keyword phrases that can drive traffic. Let your competitors have their rankings and traffic from hundreds of phrases. Your prize will be traffic from tens of thousands of keyword phrases. As long as your competition isn’t doing inbound marketing, their perceived organic search success is vulnerable. For help optimizing your blog for SEO and SMO download our Blog Post Optimization Playbook.

Image: SarahDeer

Pie Chart: MarketingTechBlog.com

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