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I can't keep up with competitors...
Any suggestions?

 6:45 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm writing this out of pure desparation...

Our site is in a very competative market - for example - one of our top (2 word) key phrase comes back with 5,870,000 results on Google. Anyway, I have tried for over 2 years to get listed in the top 10 results with no luck. I have optimized our site till my fingers were bleeding (well..not really) - but our pages are nicely optimized - and when it comes to products, we usually are #1 in Google for any of the 1,000+ products we carry... but most people don't know the exact name of the products so they use a generic keyword phrase for our industry....this is where our site fails!

For the most important (generic) keywords in our industry we don't even show up on the first 10 pages of results on Google.

I have been doing manual link requests constantly - every day, but it seems like it is not enough - I can't catch up to the competition. The thing is, I've been doing my best to do what the majority of people on this board say to do - but I've seen many companies jump to the first page of search results as soon as they started their businesses online - and they are basically doing everything they "should not" be doing...But it works:
- getting reciprocal links from non-related sites
- getting links from any PR site 0+
- creating complete garbage sites with unique URLs [same IP address] to point to their main site.
- Etc.
At first I thought it was just a fluke and Google and other search engines would eventually weed them out... but its now been over 8 months and they are still in the #1 position. I've estimated that with the money they've made in 6months doing everything against the books - it would take me 3 years to generate that kind of revenue.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice something like this - but it just seems like with the industry I'm in - competition is cut-throat and some webmasters are doing all the things we've heard/read we're not supposed to do - but by seeing their results... I'm wondering how much truth there is in what I've read @ webmasterworld. [just food for thought I guess]

I aplogize for a long post - It has just been so frustrating trying to get to the first page of search results and basically not moving at all (we've even used a few different SEO companies)

Has anyone else experienced something like this? If so...what did you do? I need more sites linking to us and I'm at a point where I will almost do anything to get those links! I'm looking for a LOT of links - cause at the rate I'm getting links - I will never catch up to our competition - they will always be quite a few steps ahead when it comes to reciprocal/back links.

just an FYI - I've used Arelis - but the majority of its results are our competitors. So at this point I use Arelis to just spit out some URLs and I weed through them and visit each site before emailing - tedious and very slow.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!



 7:35 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

AprilS, I do sympathize with your plight, but be really careful about attributing high rankings to any one thing, including an abundance of inbound links.

There are sites out there outranking others with less Page Rank and 1/10th the number of links. There's a lot more involved, and regardless of why it *appears* competitors are ranking, that doesn't necessarily tell what it would take to overcome and out-rank them.


 8:27 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I know this may sound simplistic but why not try a different category of Business!
Find something less competitive and do it better that the less well equiped competition



 8:33 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

of course, you can always go the pay to play route. Google Adwords.



 9:03 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are you sure you haven't taken a step too far with the optimisation?

Hence you're coming up on less-competitive product name key words but not on your more-competitive generic keyword (florida style filter?)

Just a thought.


PS - For those reading lets not get in to the whole definition of "optimisation" debate again - you know what i mean ;)


 9:06 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>For the most important (generic) keywords in our industry we don't even show up on the first 10 pages of results on Google.

Have you tried targeting other keywords which your competition is missing? They may not have the traffic of your high profile phrases but if you can target enough of them it doesn't matter - in fact it puts you in a better position as far as updates go. You can afford to lose a few and your traffic will still come.


 9:27 am on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

You could be only one foot away from striking oil so don't give up.

Good Luck


 4:45 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

to win, you need to have 2 independent, concurrent strategies: white hat and the dark side.


 4:54 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

AprilS I think your post reflects the reality that it's a good deal more difficult today than it used to be to get a site to page one of a competitive kw phrase. And it doesn't get easier.

That said, some things to think about:

How can you work faster?
What are you willing to do now, that you have not done to date?
How can you diversify?

Also, as Brett and others have posted numerous times, sometimes it makes sense in the beginning to go after a larger number of secondary phrases and gain momentum. Those pages, as they begin to perform better, can also add force to your efforts regarding the bigger $$ pages/kw's. FWIW.


 5:03 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

AAahh!The woes of a webmaster.
"I am no#1 for these but i am not no#1 for this and I am sure the people who are no#1 are making lots of money.If only I was no#1 for that.:( "
You can't be no#1 for everything.Be grateful.Your competitor is probably complaining that
"We are no#1 for this but not no#1 for these.They must be making a lot more money:("
The grass is always greener...:)


 5:55 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your replies.

cabbie - I know it may seem nice to be #1 for our product names... but they are rarely searched for... like 20 times a month - compared to the more popular generic keywords that are searched for ~500,000+ times per month!

dirty_marra - The thing is, I never did a single thing intentionally to get our product names #1 - the search engines must have just liked the page layout. I've never spent any time with them...but I've spent the past 2.5 years trying to rank better with the more searched by generic keywords.

In response to "ppg's" comment - we have tried targeting less popular generic terms - this is when an SEO company suckered me into a deal - they went after words that were RARELY ever searched for...sure... we were on page 1 - but those less popular keywords brought in 1 visitor per month (if we were lucky).


 5:56 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)


Content, content, content. In my experience, those sites that do more than just sell their product get the links, and more importantly, get the niche key phrases that others in the market segment are missing out on. Don't just sell, be a technical leader. SEO is not just about trying to figure out what Google wants.

Trying to figure out what content to create to add to your site? Go to your logs and see what keyword phrases are driving users from search to your site. Does the page they landed on make sense for that keyword phrase? No? There is a vote for content that you should create.

When you start developing these niche content pages, people will notice that you are not just providing products but a service (information) to them as well and other things will start to happen.


 6:36 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

SEO is not just about trying to figure out what Google wants.

No, indeed.

Some of the cleverest and most forward thinking SEO is building a site which forces Google to try and figure out how it can get your site to the top of the results without messing up the rest of its results too much.

It's up to search engines to find and report the best sites - a certain amount of optimisation is obligatory, but ultimately Google should be chasing you, not the other way around.


 7:10 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Of course it's difficult to analyze without knowing specifics, but I would echo what Jetgirl said. Don't just aim to be the product leader in your industry; try to be the information leader. Regular newsletters, articles, self-help material -- produce great content, and that will eventually encourage other sites to link to you without you having to go begging. The more links you get, the better you should do. The more new content you add, the more often crawlers should visit your site, and the better you should do. Etc. Etc.

Good luck, and keep trying.


 7:35 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with the comments about content. A while back we did some consultation with one of Bruce Clay's employees and that was one of the main points he talked about for our site. In the past 6 months I have created a lot of content on our site - mainly articles discussing/pertaining to the generic keywords we are trying to go after. Now we have more content than our competitors that are in the top 10... so I'm just thinking that links are our next big hurdle.

Currently we have approximately 185 sites linking to us.... where as our competitors in the top 10 have 3,000 - 6,000 sites linking to them. What is sort of shocking is one of our competitors who is definately #1 has only been in business 5 months - and has 3,000+ sites linking to their site.

This is why in my original post I was asking if anyone knew of a way to get a lot of links in a relatively quick manner. I do have Arelis but it seems to come back with a huge list of competitors, so I manually weed through Arelis's results - it is very time consuming and at this rate it will take a long time to get that many people to link to us. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get links quickly (w/out FFA link farms...etc)?


 7:48 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

A trick that I do that keeps me in good stead is to fool google into thinking what keyword i really want to be no#1 for.
So if I want to be no#1 for widgets i will optimise for big widgets and just mention widgets on its own once or twice.Sure enough google sees me coming and ranks me pretty low for big widgets but for widgets i score great.
Another trick is to link from your home page to a page with only the keyword "widget" and not any other variables of that KW e.g."the widget picture page" and ,on that page place a image of that keyword with limited text.Then link this back to the home page with "widget home page" as your anchor.
Also if you haven't done it already you should also link to one of your highranking competitors with the KW as your anchor


 10:32 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting idea cabbie but all these short cuts and optimizing tricks many of us have used over the years seem to catch up to us sooner or later.

Any ideas on how to attract more European customers to a site based in US.


 10:46 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I find it pretty sad that most people missed the one point that this person is making.

And that is, for competitive keywords, you need to black hat optimize.

Yes, Google *will* ban the black hats, but for every black hat that gets chomped there is always another waiting in the wings.


 11:25 pm on May 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

for competitive keywords, you need to black hat optimize.

So if I do a search for any of the ultra-competitive keywords, I can assume that all of the sites ranking highly are using underhanded tricks to be there?

I doubt it.


 12:04 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Congratulations, you have created a straw man and effectively burned him alive.

The frustration of the original poster is that Google does not sufficiently punish black hat optimization and that because of this, they are being encouraged to black hat optimize themselves.

There is a feedback loop re-asserting itself that people are not bothering to recognize.

Unfortunately, Google is more interested in optimizing based on Algo changes and probably does not give enough attention to Spam Reports.

I often do backlink checks of my competitors and it amazes me the amount of backlinks they have that Google recognizes.

While I don't feel that my competitors should be punished because of those backlinks (maybe they didn't sign up for them), I wonder continously why these websites that are linking to a site which is completely unnatural have PR > 0.

I myself finally just gave up and spent $200 and purchased a bunch of links from a pr7+ site. Practically over the period of a couple of weeks my PR jumped to PR6 and I rocketted up to the top of the rankings.

The company I had left a few months ago also has PR6, but content wise they are probably one of the most important content companies in their particular area. But we simply had a policy of no black hat optimization.

This frustration is very understandable. I think this thread would be more interesting, at least to me, if we could discuss ways in which we or Google could deal with this appropiately.

One way I think would be affective is if Google publicized website banning. Perhaps a web page where you can go and get a list of all the websites that they have been permanently banned from their search engines.

It doesn't even have to be the small guys, maybe just websites that have been around for awhile. This would give people like this poster in this thread more confidence that the approach he is taking is the right one.


 12:25 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>...#1 for our product names... but they are rarely searched for...<<

Seems to me that Google is giving you the answer loud and clear: if your site is "#1 for our product names" then that's what Google thinks your site is about i.e. the individual product names. Which means that the site is optimized for the wrong terms if individual product names are not what you want to rank under.



 12:41 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yup, it can be frustrating. I'm going to assume that the domain is important to you and you would like to keep it "clean."

You could buy a second domain and fight fire with fire and go the same route as your competition by getting links from every source you can. Google's algo has made link monkeys out of alot of people that want to compete in tough areas. Point the traffic from the new domain to the old if you need the branding.

Bottom line is that from a pure ranking point of view, volume of anchor pretty much trumps everything right now.


 1:39 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

> ... fool google into thinking what keyword i really want to be no#1 for. So if I want to be no#1 for widgets i will optimise for big widgets and just mention widgets on its own once or twice.

Cabbie, you crack me up. A true gem, that one. ;-)


 5:13 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

pmac - yes, you're correct - I do value our business name and URL - I don't want it to all go down the drain by doing something that makes our site get black listed.

jk3210 - I understand what you are saying regarding our products and Google thinking that is what our site is about. However, our competitors have the same list of products. Our genre of business is so overloaded with companies selling the same products - at this point it seems like the only thing left to do is try to beat our competition at who has more links... except most of them have 3,000+ more links than we currently do.

I think creating a second site and optimizing it for one of our tough key phrases may be one of our last options.

Let me reiterate on of my main points from the beginning. I've noticed some of our competitors in the top 5 positions - when I check who is linking to them - they are sites that have NOOO relevancy whatsoever! just as an example, if they were selling pine trees they would have sites talking about toddler development linking to them...now - that isn't a real example...just making a point. They also have a lot of web log entries all over the place...again in areas not relevant. Also, our competitors obviously don't care about PR because I've noticed a lot of sites linking to them may be PR0, PR1... All of the things they are doing work...and work great for them. Has anyone ever dealt with an issue similar to this and prevailed?

Do I think what our top competitors are doing is right...well, I don't know at this point. Everything I've seen so far from their sites is that they have defied what all the $99.95 seo programs, e-books and webmaster message boards have been saying all this time, and basically saying "you're wrong...look - see - I did it". If they haven't done anything technically wrong according to search engines like Google, then they are definitely at a hairs width of crossing the line.

So... with that being said - I guess I'm curious if anyone else has noticed something similar. Have you noticed that Google will praise quantity of links more than quality?....cause it seems like most of the people posting at webmasterworld keep saying to find relevant links with a good PR. But, what I'm noticing (at least in our niche) that is not true - the sites at the top of the results have gobs of crappy sites with low PRs linking to them...and google says they win.


 5:28 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well...well well..
you are missing something dude..
1) The competition you've mentioned is significant but still easily manageable. There is some progblem with your optimization of the site.

2)Also i dont' think you'd need to buy a new domain and optimize it for your keywords using so called unethical techniques.

3) You're right in saying that people on the top are masters in manupulating google. Google always needs to catch up with them as they find some or other way to manupulate its results.

4)Finally mind it that the SEO tips, ethics and so called spammy things discussed here is not the all about SEO.The people out there on the top knows more than that. You're missing out few things. Forget about what you know about SEO , study your competitiors and other site on other competitive keywords, you'll find the clue to be at the top from them only.


 6:07 am on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anything of note you may be able to optimize and crank out a few press releases about?


 1:45 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WOW, you guys are going crazy about the links. I have a website competing on a keyword with over 12,000,000 pages retrned and while analyzing the competition I have seen websites ranking at the top 10 with ONLY 96 links!

Thousands of links sure will get you #1 but you don't need to have them in order to be in the top 10. Good site optimization will do.


 2:00 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

<top 10 with ONLY 96 links! <

Links reported by who? Google? Google displays just a tiny fraction of backlinks, in fact it is pretty much useless in terms of reporting the true backlink picture.

>Good site optimization will do. <

Sorry, but this just isn't factual. It may be the case for terms that are not competitive where internal links will suffice, but for the most part inbound link text rules the day. Tweaking the meta tags and playing with KWD probably isn't going to help the original poster.


 2:26 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

pmac, you are wrong.

A week and a half ago (that is well after the last link count update) a website emerged from nowhere and took #2 on a keyword with 38,500,000 returned results, and the link count is only 19 links on google, 293 links on altavista and 0 links on hotbot.

Now, pay attention, I will say it again - this website showed in second position a week and a half AFTER the last link count update. And it moved a website which has over 5,000 back links.

If you are open-minded, this fact should be enough to show you that links dont matter that much. Sure it's good to have them - I am trying to get as much as I possibly can, but you cannot overlook the fact that there are other ways to do this.

Oh, and another thing I forgot to mention - the website I was talking about is not even a home page - it's an internal page of a subdomain! Something like : widget.gadget.com/widget1.html

Now beat that!


 5:23 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

To the OP - I don't know what business you are in, but is there any way to further carve out a niche? (mentioned in pp I think). Do you run special offers that you could advertise via PPC ads?

I also think further PR (public relations) efforts could certainly help. Are there other offline marketing efforts that you use to drive buyers online?

If you haven't already I would just recommend taking a different approach to it all - and I agree with pps - the linking thing isn't the complete answer and it never will be...

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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