Though the SEO battle is not isolated to a remote island in Panem, its arena is the search engine results page – and the entire world is watching
The Hunger Games are much like the battle for top position in search results. You practice not only your combat, survival, and other skills, but also perform other tasks in an effort to gain a higher ranking (i.e. sponsorship and rewards) going into the games themselves.
No matter how unique you think your organization might be, chances are that you have at least one other competitor out there – vying for the same keywords and search result placement as you.
So in a fight to the death, does it make more sense to cooperate or betray? Our SEO experts say “both.”
Assess the Strengths of the Competition
In the Hunger Games, one of the challenges that the tributes faced was that they had no idea what the strengths of their opponents were. Some were better at being nimble and avoiding danger, while others were more brute force and willing to face danger full-on. It was only out in the arena that each contestant was able to pick up hints on the strengths of their competitors.
The same holds true in the business world. Think about all of the hefty security measures organizations of all sizes go through to protect their intellectual property and corporate strategies. True, information leaks happen on occasion but are not a dependable source. The only way to really see what you are up against, is to step into the arena and observe.
Take stock of who your online competition is by searching for services related to what you offer. Where on the search results page do they show up? Are they above or below your listing? You will be able to get a sense then of how they measure up to you. You can also use certain SEO tools that can help you identify how many backlinks their website is getting, what keywords they are optimizing for, and stats on their average page ranking.
Take Advantage of Their Weaknesses
What is your competition NOT doing? Where have they left a hole in either their marketing tactics or website design? Maybe they don’t have any active social media accounts, or haven’t setup their Google Place Pages. Find out where your competition is not advertising, commenting, or link building and capitalize on those resources to give your site an advantage.
Formulate a plan based on where your competition is lacking in order to take them down.
Alliances were formed between contestants in the Hunger Games. They pooled resources like food and weapons as a means to survive. Strategic alliances can also be useful for similar or complementary businesses.
Because of the wide-spread connecting nature of the web, you can easily link with key online players to pool resources and capture a greater share of the market. By affiliating yourself with carefully selected partners and sharing your strengths, you can fast track your online presence straight to the top.
Use your strategic alliances to:
- Exchange online testimonials. Reciprocal testimonials can lend valuable credibility for each other’s businesses.
- Increase your geographic reach. Partnering with businesses located in different cities or states can help you find an online presence in that area as well.
- Build links. Links to your site from partner websites can increase search engine ranking for both parties.
Create a Compelling Story
All of the citizens of Panem watched the televised Hunger Games religiously. Like any reality show, the characters can either be beloved or loathed by the audience for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Katniss had an emotional and heartwarming story before even entering the arena that made her a national sweetheart. We see sites like Facebook and Pinterest rise to the top of our radar in much the same way.
Gaining audience support is crucial for survival in both the Hunger Games scenario and in search engine optimization. Search engines favor websites who have loyal followers and backlinks to websites with authority, thereby asserting that your website is a trustworthy source of information.
Ultimately, the Capitol Decides if You Live or Die
Like the Capitol is for Panem, Google is the be-all and end-all for search results. Disobeying their rules can lead to punishment (by degrading your ranking in search results) or death!
Following the guidelines of good, organic SEO and avoiding the trappings of bad link building and spam attempts will keep you in good standing with Google’s web spiders. One slip up however, like publishing duplicate/stolen content, being misleading with your page titles, or cramming too many ads onto your site and you’ll feel the bite of the spiders by noticing a big drop in your SERP ranking.
Search engine optimization is powerful in the right hands. Trumping your competition not only takes fine-tuned skills in your industry, but insight and strategy as well. The key is to use the arena around you and rework it to your advantage.