Can using your competitor’s name take traffic from their site?

I’ve been asked if using competitor information can help you ‘steal’ traffic from them, and my answer has always been ‘not really.’ Here’s why:

Search engines use lots of information from your site to determine when and where it’s returned in search results. The content on your site is the number-one source of keywords, with outbound links, page titles, image alt tags, and meta information rounding it out. In order for you to make any difference at all, you would have to mention your competitor many times—which isn’t usually recommended when trying to promote yourself.

What about the meta data?

Matt Cutts from Google finally takes a stand when it comes to the keywords meta tag. He says that while the description tag is useful for providing descriptive text for search results, the keywords tag is so easy to abuse that it’s not a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. This isn’t new information for search engine marketing professionals, but it’s the first time I’ve seen an official representative from Google go on record saying that the keywords tag is not a factor when ranking organic search results.

Should the keywords tag be used at all?

Keep in mind that this is just Google and there are many other search options that may use the keywords tag to some degree. My opinion is to continue to manually place appropriate keywords on your pages$mdash;if for no other reason than to have a good place to keep track of your keywords.

How do I gain traffic from my competitors, then?

The best way to increase your market share has always been to increase your value, which could include providing a better product, better service, better price or a combination of all three. Gaining ground online can be accomplished through a number of methods and is the subject of a future post. Stay tuned!


One Response to “Can using your competitor’s name take traffic from their site?”

  1. Billy says:

    I found this comment at http://www.seopedia.org/internet-marketing-and-seo/14-search-marketing-questions-answered/:

    Q: In your experience will linking to my competitors actually help me? if so how big is the effect?

    A:[There] have always been long debates about outbound links helping a website with it’s rank. IMHO highly relevant outbound links CAN help. How big is the effect? Rather small. In your situation (the outbound landing pages being the competition) I wouldn’t recommend this. Although it might help you in a small manner, it will help them a lot more. So practically you will raise their rank for free.

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