Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover called competition "the incentive to progress." It might seem like a little less incentive would be handy when you're dealing with heavy local competition, but understanding your competitors is actually incredibly valuable. Competitive research is critical to success, particularly when it comes to search engine optimization.
Organic local search rankings might not be all they once were, but they're still important to local businesses—especially since Google's recent pay-per-click changes
leaves fewer front-page spots for organic listings. Being on the first page requires strong search engine optimization that takes advantage of the highest ranking keywords for your area. If competitors are savvy about jockeying for top spots, they're regularly adding content to target those keywords.
While you should always be looking to add and optimize content on your own, knowing when competitor websites change—and knowing exactly what gets changed—allows for a swift response. Here are a few ways to stay on top of what the competition is doing.
A site called ChangeDetection.com has been providing this type of service since 1999. To use the free service, you can provide a URL to track and an email address to receive updates. Every time the site changes, you can see all additions and deletions, including when they occurred.
Another option is TrackedContent.com, which tracks daily changes in text, design or code. It also includes simple side-by-side comparison views. This is a paid service starting at $20 per month to track up to five URLs weekly.
The most comprehensive tool is Versionista.com, which offers a free version that allows users to monitor up to five URLs. Keep in mind, however, that any given site will have numerous different URLs. The paid version additionally provides hourly monitoring and tracks up to 20 URLs for $19 per month.
Are you keeping a close eye on what your local competition is doing online? Do you update your own website regularly to stay on top of local search results? Review this week’s poll, post a comment and/or send an email with your comments.
Survey Results for 06/08/2016: Do you keep up with your competitors' website changes?
Yes, but it's just something we eyeball occasionally.
No, but it's something we'll consider instituting.
No, and it's not a priority for us right now.
Yes, and we do so through a monitoring service.