Sometimes it pays to check out the competition. We like to peek at what other businesses are doing, locally and nationally, mostly just to see what's trending. It can be inspiring, motivational, and enlightening. We'll look at blogs, check out social media feeds, and even analytics. They are scoping us out, as well. It's all very friendly, and many of them know each other quite well. It's the equivalent of what retailers call 'shopping the competition.'

Search ranking

We recently were curious about a company which placed on page one of a Google search. This business isn't remotely local to us, we didn't know them, and decided to see what we could learn from them. What made them stand out? What we found was...well...odd.

A close analysis

In an age where we are told that "content is king", they had only 2 blogs posted in the past year.

  • They had no LinkedIn posts at all.
  • They only had 15 followers on LinkedIn.
  • There were no posts on Facebook after August of 2013.
  • The Facebook page had 85 Likes.
  • The company Twitter page is actually the CEO's personal page.
  • We found 6 Twitter posts in the past 3 months.
  • The Twitter page had a very respectable following of nearly 3,800.
  • They had absolutely no content on Google+.
  • The Google+ page is not a verified Google+ Business page.

In spite of this, the Google+ page has over 25,000 followers, and over 25,000 have this business in their circles. Moreover, the page has had a whopping 99,000 views - all with no content at all.

Surely this business has a stunning website, right? Well, we only found one image on the site (apart from the company logo). However, the website is structured in a unique way. Its individual pages focus on specific services, and have the look of landing pages, repeating the keywords a few times on the page. They rank very high for those keywords.

A probe into their external links showed a modest, though respectable, 551.

What does this mean?

Clearly, the feature in all this analysis which stood out like a hippo at a summer picnic was the Google+ page. How does an unverified page, with no content, get nearly a million views and 25,000 followers? Lots of friends?

The structure of the website's pages, with their SEO friendly URLs was fascinating. With repetitive keywords, and the look and feel of landing pages, it was an approach unlike any we'd seen before. This certainly had to affect their overall SEO.

What value, then, does content and social interaction really have in search engine ranking if this business can appear prominently on Google's page one? Is the mysterious popularity of a Google+ page, however dubious, a more important contributor to ranking than Google's Matt Cutts would have us believe?

Whatever marketing methods work for your business is what is truly important. Success is always laudable. Exploring how others in your industry generate that success can be very rewarding. Sometimes, though, the answers you find create even more questions.

Gary Locke
By Gary Locke

A semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.

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