Know your enemy. What the sites are ranking 1st page for your keywords and how did they get there?
I’ve talked a lot about needing to do better, faster SEO because if you don’t your competitors will. There’s another important point I need to make about competitors - make sure you know who they are.
Now, you may think you know who your competitors are, but if you’re only worried about the company down the road that does the same thing as you then you’re not thinking like an SEO.
Your number one, two, and three competitors are the number one, two, and three search results that appear on Google when you search for what it is you do - these websites will take a vast majority of the search traffic when people are looking for your product or service on the internet.
There’s nothing wrong with looking at what your competitors do well and then doing the same, but better. I guarantee your strongest competitors are doing this to each other and probably to you as well.
Local SEO and why you do need to worry about that company down the road after all...
Google, and other search engines, are always looking for new ways to improve their search results. One of these improvements has been “local SEO” - ensuring that if you search for something then preference is given to results that are nearby to you if Google thinks that proximity matters.
This means there is actually more than one number one slot available. You don’t need to be the number result for “24 hour plumber” on all of Google, you just need to be the number one result for “24 hour plumber” for people in your immediate area.
Localisation isn’t the only way that Google will personalise search results either - they will use your own search history as well. You’re actually more likely to see your own site than a competitor’s (assuming you click yourself in search results - and we all do).
Here’s the science bit...
The best way to get an unbiased view of how well you are doing in search engine rankings is to use Google’s own Search Console. Failing this, at least run your searches in Google Chrome’s incognito mode, which will disable some of the history and tracking features.