Targeting Your Competition (Without Mentioning Them) - Will Hanke

Targeting Your Competition (Without Mentioning Them)

Written by +Will Hanke on May 25th, 2007

This post should be of interest to those of you delving in SEO (aren’t we all at some level?) to help better target your SERPS. In particular, I’d like to talk a little about targeting your SERPS for phrases that don’t even appear on your website. Is this possible? You bet.

For a while now I’ve been working on a local niche site that passes referrals on to local businesses. These businesses pay me a referral fee if the visitor ends up signing up with their service. So it is important for me to not only rank for local terms related to the industry, but I can also take that a step further and rank for the actual businesses I’m promoting.

Now, I don’t want the customers to know who the businesses are up front, because they’ll just bypass my website and go directly to the business, and I won’t get my referral. By getting the visitor to fill out a short form, and then passing the vendor into onto them, I’ve done a few things:

  • Documented the fact that I am the ‘originator’ of the referral
  • Successfully sent the visitor to the correct business
  • Gathered quality information about the visitor, which I can use in the future to promote more services and products

Many of the vendors I’m promoting have their own websites, but they are mostly very poor in quality. So ranking for their business name shouldn’t be too hard. That way, if someone types in the business name, and you’re ranking for it, even if they were going to contact the business, by coming through your website, you’ll get a referral fee out of it.
I’ve had particularly good luck ranking for terms that don’t appear on my website with Yahoo!. The other search engines (in my experience) aren’t as easy to game, but its still possible.

So how do you rank for a term that doesn’t even appear on your website? Enter Digital Point’s COOP. Simply enter in a few text ads with the vendor’s business name as the link, and watch your SERPS crawl upwards for that term. Chances are, within 2-3 weeks, you’ll be in the top 50 for a term that doesn’t even appear on your website.


Will Hanke is the Chief Search Marketing Strategist at Red Canoe Media, a top St. Louis Search Marketing & SEO firm. In addition to helping some of the city's most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.


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