Unless you truly are in the equine bandanna niche, you are going to have competition and probably a lot of it. But it’s not as scary as it sounds. In fact, most of the people out there are floundering in their new ecommerce business just like you are, and even the ones who have their doo-doo together you can learn something from.
So, just because there are others competing in your same niche, don’t think that you aren’t going to be able to compete. Instead, look at it as a challenge and more importantly, think of something unique that you can do or provide that would make people want to come and shop with you.
How to Know Who the Competition is
If you want to evaluate the competition, you first need to know who that competition is. If you sell tennis shoes, you can bet that the athletic stores, department stores, smaller online shoe sellers and discount websites will all be your competition. Even if you don’t sell shoes, you can pretty much count on Amazon competing with you on just about every real-world product you can think of. There are only a few pies that they haven’t gotten their fingers in yet, and it is only a matter of time.
But what if you sell something that isn’t so easy to define the competition for? Well, let’s go back to the trusty bandana, aka ‘do rag. Some people also call them scarves and both men and women wear them, usually on their head. A quick search in Google will show you that some of the top competitors for ‘bandana’ are some pretty well-known real-world stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Of course, Amazon is at the top of the search results for this particular term. They usually are.
Luckily, you aren’t trying to compete for bandanas. You’re going to make a list of keywords that people use when they are searching for a particular type of bandana. To learn what people are typing in, you have two tried-and-true methods. The first is the Google Auto-Complete method.
Using Google Instant to Identify Your Products & Competitors
If you have Google instant search (also known as auto-complete) turned on then you’ll be able to see suggestions as you type. It’s like Google is convinced that you don’t know what you’re trying to type into the search field. Even so, it makes a great way for you to see what people are looking for, and afterward, to see what companies are providing those products.
So, if you were to use Google Instant Search when it came to bandanas, you might begin by typing in the word ‘bandana.’ Unfortunately, this example doesn’t lend itself well to demonstration because most of the descriptive terms that would narrow down your bandana selection appear before the word, not after.
However, you can still use Google Instant to come up with some ideas by typing in a descriptive phrase and the word ‘bandana’ and then seeing what else comes up. For instance, if you were to type ‘tiger stripe bandana’ into Google Instant, you might notice that ‘camo bandana’ comes up a lot.
Once you have determined some of the keywords that describe products similar to those that you’re going to be selling, your next step is to see who is selling under those keywords. It is important to distinguish that while you can use this method to come up with keywords for your own site or even for you to come up with a particular niche product to sell, the goal here is simply to see what kind of competitors are in the field by using related keywords.
Ideally, you aren’t going to find very many (read: hopefully none) competitors that are selling exactly what you are, but if you look at some of the related products you’ll be able to develop a picture of the competition.
Using the Google Keyword Planner to Determine Competitors
If you’re in an ecommerce business you are going to have competitors that are trying to rank for keywords just like you are. It is likely that they developed their strategy using the Google Keywords Planner. Therefore, if you can use it to get some of the more popular search terms related to your particular niche, you’ll be able to see what kind of competition is out there.
All you have to do is type in something related to your keyword and then see what kind of keywords come up. You want to use the “Get Keyword Ideas” part of the planner and if you aren’t familiar with how to use the tool, Google offers a comprehensive tutorial section.
Checking Out the Competition
In either of these cases, you are going to end up with search results of companies that sell the same thing that you do. What you want to look for are actual ecommerce stores that sell products. If you come across a blog that happens to be talking about bandanas (or whatever your product is) and has Amazon affiliate items available in the sidebar, ignore it. You only want to evaluate ecommerce websites that are at least as serious as your Shopify site.
Make a list of the competitors that pop up again and again when you try out various related keywords. Those companies – even if they don’t sell the exact same thing you do – are going to be who you are competing against – at least for the most popular keywords. You might rank at the top of a search for a particular niche search (equine design bandanas anyone?) but that doesn’t mean you are going to get traffic. You want to find out who is competing against you for keywords that will actually bring you traffic.
Evaluating That Competition
The last thing that you are going to do is decide how much of a threat this competition actually is to you. This is actually one of the easier things to do with the internet, because internet marketing is such a booming business that there are literally hundreds of thousands of marketing tools that will let you take a peek at what the other guys are doing.
You might remember that a site’s pagerank used to be a big deal. Now, it isn’t necessarily an indicator of how strong a site is (although you can’t discount it completely) and backlinks are the same way. You used to be able to tell exactly how you would be able to outrank a site by targeting the same keywords and getting more backlinks than they had.
Now, Google has changed their algorithm drastically. But you can still evaluate a company’s strength by looking at some of the other factors that exist. For example: Google loves it when you have content on your website – and the more high quality content, the better.
If you have a blog that published quality articles regularly, you’ll be poised to be regarded as an expert in that particular field. The world of SEO and evaluating the strength of a website is an industry in itself, but if you learn what makes a website strong, you can make your site even stronger and rise above the competition.