Crushing The Competition

Business Practices Sep 27, 2006

So, there’s definitely a competitive edge to HitTailing. The idea is to dominate a conceptual niche. It’s not really to the “exclusion” of your competitors, because that would be too spammy, but it is quite possible to keep corralling your target audience back to your site over and over and over. And it is inevitable that your competition will keep encountering you during their keyword testing, and you are likely to frustrate them to no end. But the real satisfaction is being all over the keyword results they’re not even thinking of testing–but the actual prospective customers ARE.

When I was first playing around with long tail keyword optimization, it was in an emerging industry with lots of small fish (both in terms of competitors and prospective customers). I started out in a company named Scala which already had a long history in a related space that transitioned very naturally into the emerging industry of digital signage (hanging monitors and cable TV computer channels). But no one knew what the practice of using flat panel TVs as signs was going to be called. It could have been anything from “electronic displays” to “out of home advertising”. It was really wacky the terms that were popping up. One thing I intuitively sensed was that to name the industry in the formative stages was to exert extreme control on the market as it developed.

And so it was true. After I moved on from that company to a NY PR firm, I was contacted by two of my biggest competitors from my previous life in digital signage. I learned exactly how frustrating it was to them how Scala had dominated the conceptual niche of digital signage–no matter what you thought to call it. Blogs weren’t so big at the time, and I simply called my writing “vignettes.” They were micro-stories about how digital signage might be used, and it gave me opportunity to experiment with different names and ideas. Each time I posted, Google promptly picked up the post and my systems suggested new terms. Before long, I not only dominated a conceptual niche, but found myself in the position of shaping it–because all online research led back to me (my writing).

Though people didn’t cite me very much directly (what competitor would), I saw my language reoccurring everywhere I looked. I was defining the very rules by which digital signage solutions would be measured. And I am fairly certain it predisposed the entire base of prospective customers for digital signage toward Scala solutions in a way that’s still paying off for them to this very day.

Well its a few years later, and those competitors are a few years wiser, and of course I’m not with Scala anymore. HitTail is being offered as a free service to the world, and competitors who were previously frustrated by the existence of an in-house secret weapon that was so devastating that it kept them from even being at the table, now suddenly find the playing field a little more even.

But this evolution of search engine marketing savvy has not occurred in every industry yet. There is still ample opportunity to crush the competition by achieving niche dominance. However, the onus is on you to start sooner rather than later, because natural search results don’t move fast. They have a great deal of inertia (Google more than most), so it’s like moving the Queen Mary. So, if you’re in a race, there are two things that are most important…

1. Putting the energy into the race now.
2. Not letting your competition know it’s on.

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