An SEO Competitor Intelligence Report can give you all the information you need to best your competitors in the search engines. This detailed report tells you how well designed your site is for both visitors and search engine crawlers, as compared to your competitors. It reveals how popular your competitors are and how easy it is for prospects to find you versus them. Most reports provide a comparison on keywords and links, as well as a search engine position ranking report and recommended plan of action.

SEO competitor intelligence research can give you a competitive edge in achieving your business goals. It can boost your listings ahead of the competition in the SERPs (search engine results pages), and it also works to protect your brand.

Why Protect Your Brand?

In today’s competitive environment, many advertisers resort to using competitor trademark names as keywords in paid-search advertising. These trademark names appear in the SERPs for Google, Yahoo! and affiliates and partners when you buy Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing sponsored listings. Therefore, it’s possible for your competitors to drive substantial traffic to their web sites by virtue of your trademark name, using your reputation to attract visitors.

You can protect yourself from competitors raiding your trademark by hiring an SEO consultant to identify your competitors and research their search engine advertising activities. Your legal department can subsequently use the SEO research data to protect your trademark and reputation. This step can prove invaluable toward defending your future and ongoing business.

Most often, it will be the smaller, “wannabe” companies riding on your coat tails by using your trademark terms as keywords in their advertising. These companies will generally avoid the threat of legal action upon receipt of a cease and desist letter.

B2B Firms Need Online Visibility

Research (Enquiro/MarketingSherpa 2004) shows that search engines play a dominant role in B2B purchases. The study reports that search is used in the early and mid research phase of the buying cycle, taking place at least one to two months before the buying decision. The study also reveals that position is a factor, with over 60 percent clicking on the top three listings.

B2B firms that want to meet and exceed their business goals must be listed prominently in the major search engines to keep their competitors from eating their lunch. Yet research shows that about 80 percent of corporate websites are not optimized for favorable positioning. The scenario below illustrates how competitor intelligence can help B2B firms serve customers better while improving their own profitability.

Setting the Scene for Competitor Research

Competition is keen in the communications field of voice and data services. That’s partly because new technologies and standards are still emerging. There is also a bit of confusion about the various services themselves, as well as the middlemen involved in the process of delivering services to consumers.

Major carriers such as Sprint, AT&T and Verizon provide network infrastructure and services to enable MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators such as Virgin Mobile USA) to offer consumer services. For instance, Sprint sells Mobile minutes of use (MOU) to Virgin, which packages and sells them to end-users.

Suppliers like Boston Communications Group, Inc. offer products and services that enable MVNOs to deploy and manage voice and data services for subscribers with access management, billing, payment and network services.

Let’s see how Boston Communications Group fares in branding and lead generation from search engine traffic.

Since Google is favored over other search engines, I started there. Did I find BCGI anywhere in Google for the term ? Sadly not.

Instead, I found prominent organic listings on page 1 and 2 for Lucent, Cisco and Intel. These companies may not be direct competitors; however, their mere size and genre result in a crossover in marketing objectives.

There are plenty of design engineers searching Google every day. These people are a target audience for Cisco, Intel, and likely others, such as Boston Communications Group, Inc., Intervoice, Inc. and Comverse Technology, Inc., to name just a few. Below is some information I gathered online about three mid-sized companies: BCGI, Intervoice and Comverse.

Information Gleaned Online

Recently, Boston Communications Group announced a reorganization focusing on diversification across product lines. Its products and services enable wireless operators to fully realize the potential of their networks. BCGI's access management, billing, payment and network solutions help operators rapidly deploy and manage innovative voice and data services for subscribers.

A direct competitor of BCGI, Comverse Technology, which makes communications systems and software used by telephone companies for voicemail, recently said its revenue for the current period rose to $272.8 million from $221.4 million reported in the comparable quarter last year. Do you think Comverse has optimized its website to capture its target audience on the web? Nope -- it doesn’t appear that even the slightest optimization effort has been made.

Another direct competitor of BCGI is Intervoice, Inc., the world leader in converged voice and data solutions. Are they search optimized? Evidently not.

But I did find press releases announcing that Intervoice and Carrius Technologies, Inc. recently formalized an OEM agreement in which Intervoice will use the Carrius Compleat-200(TM) as a media and signaling gateway component for its Omvia® family of network products. This leverages Intervoice’s telephony capabilities while reducing internal development costs. Omvia network solutions help leading companies realize operating efficiencies, customer satisfaction and increased revenues.

Are They Found in the SERPs?

I used the key phrase “voice and data services” but did not find BCGI, Intervoice or Comverse on the first three pages of Google or Yahoo!. Will the online target audience for these firms ever know that they provide voice and data services? Probably not. Does it matter? You better believe it! (If interested, write to me for support data proving this point.)

This type of naiveté about search engine marketing is penalizing emerging technology firms and mid-size companies every day. It also opens the gate for giants like Cisco and Intel to dominate the market and stifle competition, which doesn’t benefit consumers.

Elevating Your Brand

Detailed competitive analysis reports provided by a qualified search engine marketing firm, can act as a significant leverage point for many mid-size companies. BCGI, Intervoice and Comverse Tech -- Wise up! You are losing potential business by falling off the charts online. Your competitors are literally eating your lunch and walking off with your business 24/7.

August 25, 2005

Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.

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