In the early days of the internet, not very many businesses succeeded unless they were almost exceptional at keeping traffic coming to their sites. With the internet being much broader now, you have a much better chance of beating your competition if you want your business to succeed. Constantly updating your SEO helps with this tremendously.

In fact, if you use your competitors to your advantage, there are many ways that you can stay at the top of the social and media search. There are also many ways that you can trade ideas with your competitors. The thing to remember is that both quality and quantity count on equal levels now.

Here are seven ways that you can use your competitors to your advantage.:

1. Guest posting. Do not underestimate the power of this. You can actually invite them to take advantage of a spot on your blog and vice versa. You can help each other build your portfolios and reputations on social media. It will increase the likelihood of attracting more traffic. If your competition does launch a new digital strategy ahead of you, this is actually a golden opportunity to get your own leg up and learn when their guard is likely to be down. At the end of the day, the most visibility is your goal here.

2. Take note of your competitors’ every weakness. For example, if they don’t have a strong presence on LinkedIn, has more negative than positive reviews, or are in danger of losing the business, this is where your golden opportunities are. You’re not trying to be nasty as much as you’re trying to ensure that your business succeeds as best as you envision it doing so. You don’t want to be the one to fall too far behind.

3. Figure out how your brand differs from that of your competitors. This is a very important key to your success. No one wants to just buy the same old thing under a different name and from a different company. First, that would be boring. Secondly, that wouldn’t really anyone improve or you to succeed. Also, be sure to learn your competitors’ main niches, target market, and their main mission. Again, the strategy here is simple. Find out where your competition is the weakest and put in your slots from there.

4. Mimic but don’t use the same links as your competitors. If you try to do it manually, chances are, you won’t be able to even start up to date with your competition. You can navigate your competitors’ links by using search tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Once you have that information on hand, you can try to have links very similar to your competitors’ or take a more perpendicular angle. At the end of the day, however, you want to focus on your company’s campaign, not that of your competitors.

5. Be inspired by your competitors as well. It can be hard to come up with new ideas on a regular basis. Especially if your company is not a particularly fast-paced one or “exciting” one. However, the last thing you want to do is copy your competitors exactly. That’s plagiarism and your company needs to maintain its uniqueness. Instead, use their content to keep finding ways to put new twists on your own or to note topics that they haven’t covered so you can.

6. Try to gain some of the same or similar followers as your competitors. This may sound counterproductive at first glance. However, with so many businesses constantly striving to stay at the same level, there may not be that much room for overlap. Hence, one way you can solve that is by keeping the market that you already have and also reaching out to some of their followers with your advertisements. The fact that they’re using your competitors in the first place means that they are at least somewhat interested in what the company can offer them. That means that there may be a chance that they’ll be interested in what you have to offer as well.

7. Know what would be more beneficial for you to replicate and avoid. This can be trickier than it sounds. This involves keeping a close eye on your competitors to know how they’re doing what they’re doing as well as how they’re avoiding what they are. It also means keeping track of their rankings and how their strategies change. A few basic things that are going out and that you want to avoid are written-only content, having your visibility exclusively on Google, and settling for only average content. Multimedia is what gets most public attention now and people are increasingly turning to Yahoo and Bing. Plain content doesn’t get very many likes and shares anymore because of heavy saturation in the content market.

Today, you’re almost can’t avoid success in running a business without constant SEO optimization for social and media search. With many businesses going exclusively online now, you can’t afford to just rent or buy a brick-and-mortar location and hope that plenty of customers to walk in and make a purchase. Those days are gone now. One advantage of globalization and social media and search on the internet is that you can now also generate an international market as well as a national one.

Also, as the seven strategies above demonstrate, you can’t really hope to keep up with the competition without social media and search engine visibility anymore. Things are much faster paced than they used to be. This also means that the competition has gotten to be much faster paced and it’s critical that you keep up. Otherwise, your business will probably have to close down after a month or two at best.

If you’re truly passionate about your business succeeding, you simply can’t do it without constantly monitoring your competition. This is so even if your business is just you working from home from the ground up. There is always competition somewhere whether it’s large or small.

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