A number of people have asked me in the past 24 hours whether I feel threatened when a new blog starts up with the same topic as one of mine.
It is an interesting question and one that I usually answer in a number of ways.
Firstly I admit that I do feel a bit threatened. I think its a fairly natural feel some anxiety, threat or worry when someone else steps on what you perceive as your patch. I feel these emotions when I first see new blogs set up that have complete or partial overlap with a topic I’m writing about. It worries me from time to time that there is only one top ranking in the Search Engines for a keyword that I might be targeting – in a sense my ‘competition’ and I are in a contest for such positioning. The more sites on the same topic the harder it is to get to the top of the pile.
Many people respond to such competition in a negative way. In response to the threat they tend to either:
- ignore the competition (and hope they’ll go away)
- attack their competition (discredit and try to undermine them)
- worry themselves silly by monitoring their every move and attempting to copy everything they do in order to keep them covered
These responses to a competitive blog or website coming onto your patch are somewhat understandable – but in my opinion none of them are particularly helpful.
To ignore your competition is stupid – burying your head in the sand when there are others around making strategic moves doesn’t make much sense. Attacking your competition might work if you have reason to but in most cases you’ll probably just disillusion your readership and promote your competition. The third ‘worrying’ option can make you lose your identity as a site and wastes a lot of energy in defending your position rather than growing as a blog.
So how do I respond? Well after a little while of feeling threatened I generally try to snap myself out of the negative frame of mind and force myself to see it as an opportunity. You see I’m slowly learning that competition can actually be an enriching and life giving thing on a multitude of levels if you approach it with the right attitude. Let me mention a few ways:
Competition Raises Standards and Quality - There is nothing like a new competing blog to keep your quality of blogging high. Just look at any monopoly situation when competition enters the market. Usually in such situations the site who has had the monopoly gets a real shake up and wakes up from its complacent state and improves its services and products. It reminds me of when I used to play tennis – when I played a poor opposition I quite often found myself playing poorly but when I played a better player than myself I was usually amazed by how my own standards and abilities rose to match theirs.
Competition Raises an Industry’s Profile and brings Expansion of Markets – Whilst competition might compete with you for your current readership it might actually help expand the profile of the topic you’re writing about and expand the demand for information. Competition can create buzz on a topic which all will benefit from.
Competition as Partnership – One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in blogging in the past two years is that my competition can actually be my biggest partners. Instead of taking a hostile position with a new blog on your topic why not introduce yourself, welcome them to ‘the neighborhood’ and build a relationship with them over time. This is in your best interests (and theirs) for numerous reasons including:
• Sharing Information – I have a number of competitors that I share information with freely. If I get a scoop I let them know asap. What goes around usually comes around and you’ll soon find them sharing hot tips with you too. I also give quite a bit of time to helping a few of my main competitors optimize their sites with their advertising. Again this may seem stupid but I believe its paid off many times over as they have given me a lot of advice back – in the process we’ve both improved our earnings significantly.
• Linking and Promotion – I promote some of my competitors so much that it can get a little silly. I link to their articles, mention them in newsletters, recommend their sites to readers when I know they have the information being searched for and I try to be generous with my outbound links. Again I am not just doing this in the hope that they’ll reciprocate (although its nice when they do) you see I believe that in doing so I’m also helping my readers by showing them to the best information available. I find many readers come to my sites because I’ll genuinely help them whether on my own site or someone else’s.
• Relevant Incoming Links – every Search Engine Optimization expert you’ll ever find will tell you that the best way to build your own site’s ranking in search engines is to have incoming links from quality sites on the same topics as yours. Who has these sites? The answer is pretty obvious – your competitors. In a round about way everyone helps everyone – by linking to them you increase the ranking of their site which in tern increases the power of their links coming back at you. All win (usually).
• Relevant Outgoing Links - I also believe that where your outbound links point can also play a part in how some Search Engines rank your blog. If your links go to relevant pages you are seen as more of an authority than if you don’t link to any of them.
• Credibility in the Industry – The best way to build your own credibility in an industry is when your competitors start recommending that their own readers check you out. It might take time to get to this point in a relationship with another blogger – but it can be a very powerful thing.
This whole notion of competition being good is a little hard to get one’s head around – building up your competitors is a freaky thing to do and to be honest can be a little risky (if you find they don’t play ball) – but in most cases I’ve found it to be a powerful thing that has strengthened not just their site but mine.