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Are You Winning or Losing In Google?

By John Gergye
Posted Monday, September 20, 2004

When tracking how well you’re doing against competitors in Google are you winning, losing or just holding your own?

Don’t know? Doesn’t surprise me.

Most have no clue if they’re winning the Google rankings battle much less the war. Which is a shame since keeping score is so simple. Here’s all you do.

Identify the Competition
Track Page Rank
Ferret Out How Many Pages in Google
Gauge Both Quantity and Quality of Inbound Links
Track Traffic
Keep an Eye on Them

That’s it. That’s all that counts really. Here’s how to do it.

** Identify Your Competitors
Not hard. Just identify the top 5 competitors in your niche you want to outrank.

** Track Page Rank (PR)
Pick the two or three "must-win" keywords you want to come out on top for.

Use the Google toolbar to track the PR of competitors’ home pages plus the two or three other pages optimized for those competitive keywords you picked.

Note the PR of each on a spreadsheet.

** How Many Pages in Google?
Again pretty simple if you have this tool:

In the left hand column you’ll see it asks "How well optimized is your website?"

Now I don’t give a rat’s behind about mine, necessarily. But I do care about those pesky competitors.

Enter the competitor’s URL
Stick in some guessimate for how many pages on their site
Hit the "check now" button.

The result will show you how many pages they’ve got in Google, FAST, altaVista, and Inktomi. While I track all of them - at least track the pages in Google.

** Gauge Quantity and Quality of Inbound Links
It’s a cinch if you use FAST to get the number or quantity of inbound links since they’re more inclusive.

Google on the other hand will only reveal in bound links from PR 4 sites or higher. BAM! There’s your take on quality.

Here’s how. Using FAST put:

link:(www.competitor.com) in the search box. All pages linking to (www.competitor.com) are returned.

Do the same with Google.

Record the count of all links plus high quality links on your spreadsheet. (Be sure to subtract the internal links from pages in the website in question.)

** Track Traffic
Use either Alexa’s Toolbar or visit Alexa to grab traffic stats.

While far from perfect since it can be manipulated, you can still get a decent estimate of traffic as measured by users with the Alexa toolbar visiting the sites.

To keep it simple just track the traffic rank.

Then to close the loop…

** Keep an Eye on The
Use a page monitoring service to watch competitor sites like a hawk. Sure some would call this spying. But that has such a negative connotation. I prefer monitoring. Here’s the free tool to use that makes this automatic.

Change Detect will email you whenever a site it’s monitoring for you changes.

This gives you yet one more way to track if the webmaster is actively improving their site or asleep at the switch.

Now the easiest way to recognize trends is to graph what’s going on. You’ll be able to see right away if the trend is your friend or not.

Look. Don’t be blindsided like a frog in water on the stove. Who will boil to death because he doesn’t detect what’s going on.

** Track your closest rivals.
** Compare your stats to theirs.
** Re-act accordingly.

It’s easy and doesn’t take more than 20-30 minutes a week given the tools revealed. Yet doing so gives you the marketing intelligence you need to improve your Google ranking or hold your own. No matter what your competitors are doing.

How much is more traffic worth to your business? Take John Gergye’s Search Engine Quiz and get a special report "Coming Out On Top" with 49 tools that make it easy to get more traffic. (http://www.traffic-test-tube.com/search-engine-quiz.shtml)

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