Many often mistake the connotation of competition when it comes to SEO and your competitors. They say that which does not kill you makes you stronger, that is true, but what if you are mislead and competing with the wrong opponent?
Fighting the wrong battles is a waste of time and energy, this is also the case when Website A sets out to dethrone Website B (for a series of keywords) and has the approach that one upping a competitor leads to ultimate victory on the online battlefield.
To let you in on a little secret, the only competition you have is between your own site and the search engine algorithm. The sheer simplicity of the statement necessitates the need to say it again, “the only competition your website has is with itself and the algorithm”.
If you overcome the adversity of cleaning up house and see it as it really is, search engine algorithms are emotionless and calculating, but as long as ou give them what they want, they reward your website with traffic.
With SEO, Leave No Page Behind
House cleaning is not something that just applies to homes, it applies to websites as well. How many dusty pages are orphaned pages (pages starved for link juice or traffic) on your website. You know, that one file from that one place from that one time that you uploaded to your server and forgot about?
Well, even if you don’t remember, your web server does and your sites performance is more than likely being hampered by it. Tidying up and getting things in order can take on a plethora of optimization tactics. Each if performed properly can flip the script on where search engines place your pages and how you rank in search engines in contrast to your competition.
What to Do with Dead-End Pages.
Link weight often pools in a website in particular areas of a website. If you have the appropriate metrics to assess this phenomenon and make adjustments, then I would be reading your blog instead (just kidding). In any case, pages that are somehow linked from a page long forgotten can be either one of two things (a) a blessing in disguise from a 301 redirect or (b) a link juice vampire to your website.
If the page is sufficiently linked internally, then reconsider a re-edit / refocusing the content to be more conducive to a new or related topic. Pages with age and trust can push or pull your other content along way. Just think of each page in your site like candidates for the buddy system. When one is down, another comes along to give it a lift and get it back in the game (or the index if you will).
Links in to Links Out:
Search engines assess the strength of your pages using hundreds of criteria, but to simplify this to bare essentials (a) the word count (b) depth of the topic covered and how prominent the focus is and (c) how the page is internally linked and how many links (endorsement /votes) it receives from other sites.
If you think of your website as a bucket, it doesn’t matter how much water you try to hold, if there are leaks in the bucket it is in vein. So, before you go out and try to take on the biggest authority site on the block (regardless of page rank), shore up your own weaknesses to create a stronger platform as a foundation for future rankings.
Authority comes in many shapes and sizes and wears many keywords in disguise. Rather than try to one up another site (that is going to sprout more rankings on accident than you do on purpose) focus on making your website an authority instead.
Look deep within your site for gems of stability, aged content that can serve as a new platform as well as those that must be sacrificed for the cause (301’d). However don’t forget, you can only go back to the well so many times, there is nothing like fresh / new content to get things moving upward and onward.
So, if you haven’t incorporated a content management system yet, then put away the yellow pages and get with the program. You need content to compete…anything less is just white noise or tactics designed for posturing.
Each page you have in the index is another page potentially working for or against your sites profile. Mind the gap or you will be left behind by a leaner and meaner website intent with focus and replete with content and aging links and authority.
So, before you go out and start picking battles for keywords, clean up the coding errors, seal up the leaks and make sure that EACH PAGE in your website is polished and ready to embrace your competition (which is the search engine algorithm).
Win that battle (by building content, links and authority) and you will never have to look back (or look down from the top search results) to see what your competition is up to ever again.