Clients I’ve worked with personally or alongside web developers occasionally have some assumptions about SEO that cloud the value they see in the effort required. One of these erroneous assumptions in particular that’s come up recently is the assumption that certain competitors are not really competitors because they don’t target exactly the same customers, and therefore it doesn’t matter how much better they rank.

If you’re a commercial construction company that only works with very large clients, for example, you may think that a smaller commercial construction business down the road isn’t really a competitor because they work with smaller chains and local businesses. There’s truth to that, but both their target customers and yours may be looking for commercial contractors, and if this other business ranks well for those types of searches and you don’t, what good is that doing you?

A prospect isn’t going to know the difference between your business and the other guy’s until he or she sees your site.

This thinking errs a step further with the assumption being that once a prospective customer goes to the other guy’s site and realizes they deal with smaller sized businesses that the prospect is going to say “Well I’d better magically find [your] company instead.” They may not work with your smaller “competitor”, but they also may end up confused that searches they’re doing do not yield an ideal solution. You might have been that solution, but you were nowhere to be found in the search.

A prospect not working with your competitor does not by default lead to them working with you.

This example is true for most types of business. In a simpler example, take two pizza places. One offers your generic run of the mill pizza, and other authentic NY-style pizza. The NY-style pizza place may think that the generic one isn’t really a competitor because they just make “regular” pizza, but not every person looking for pizza types a specific type into their search bar.

A person looking for pizza generically that sees a NY-style pizza place may say “Ooh, I haven’t had thin slices in awhile. Maybe I’ll do that instead.” But they had to see the NY-style pizza place in a general search about pizza for that to happen.

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