I knew this one would get your attention. How can you, the savvy business entrepreneur, get FREE ANYTHING from your competition? The answer is simple: Google!
Yes, there are many things that Google can solve. As listed above, they are providing their users with endless utilities to help you in your web search. So how can they help you with your site? Watch this:
Go to Google (http://www.google.com) and type in the following, exactly as shown, using your business URL in place of the example
The results show you a listing of all sites that link to your site. While chances are your competition will not be listed, you can get an overview of the 'type' of websites that link to you. If there are a bunch of similar sites, that can help you with your marketing and target advertising in the future.
Now here's where the fun begins. Now that you know who links to you, check out the competition. Put in those guys down the street who provide the same service you do.
Who's linking to them? Are there some big names listed that you WISH were linking to you? You may find out that getting your name on that list is easier than you thought. Sometimes a simple email to the webmaster will get you added to the list. The more quality businesses that link to you, the higher your search engine results climb.
Are there businesses that link to your competition that you didn't know exist? Maybe you can get a cheaper rate on parts, or better service from a vendor on that list. The possibilities are there, investigate!
Want another idea? Go to your competition's website. Are they offering a service ONLINE that you only wish you could? Are they offering a custom login or other special feature that you don't have? Maybe you should consider offering those items to your customers.
Give your customers something that keeps them coming back. Whether it's an online newsletter, a simple coupon, or other feature, get it online.
Have fun learning from your competition, and good luck on increasing that bottom line!
About the Author
Will Hanke is a self-proclaimed geek who owns and operates Lighthouse Technologies (www.techlh.com), a web development and hosting company based in Arnold, Missouri. For questions or comments, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And buy yourself a good virus program so he doesn't have to fight your emails with anti-virus spray.