Although the failure of any business is never something to celebrate, it is in the interests of every company on the planet to act quickly if one of their competitors fails. The biggest thing to consider when a competitor closes down is how many loyal customers they had, and the best ways in which you can reach out to them without coming across like too much of a vulture. Being able to balance the feeling of being there to provide a service or product against making what seems a blatant sales pitch is a great skill to master, although few businesses do.
In the modern world, the first thing many customers of failed businesses will do is head to a search engine and look for a similar business where they can continue to purchase products or services. This means you can take advantage of a handful of SEO opportunities.
The first thing it is worth doing is to find out as much as you can about their website. If they were a close competitor, it is likely that you were carrying out regular competitive analysis anyway and taking actions that resulted from this. However, you might be able to discover that they were targeting some industry relevant keywords that weren’t successful, meaning you can review your own keyword usage if you were using your competitor as a guide.
Of course, putting the failure of a business down to poor on-site SEO is purely speculative, but it is something to consider. While you’re carrying out your investigations, look for the keywords that they were ranking highly for that you might not have expected to see. Could you start using them in your content to ensure you fill the gap when Google delists the competitor website?
If your competitor’s website is still live, then you might have the chance to buy their domain registration. If they’re going out of business, it isn’t as if they have any need for it. However, even as a business fails, they’re unlikely to want to deal with a competitor. You might find yourself having to pay a large sum, way beyond what that domain name would cost if it were free and available, to acquire it.
If you’re able to secure their domain, either yourself or by buying through a third party, such as GoDaddy or a similar company, then you’re left with choices around what you want to do. The most common practice here is to use a 301-redirect so that anyone discovering their site through the search engines automatically ends up on yours.
However, so that you don’t risk alienating customers and making them feel like you’re controlling them, you might want to repurpose the homepage with a personal message and a link to your own site. This is a great way to start building a rapport with customers by introducing yourself and explaining that you’re looking to provide the same service to those loyal customers of the closed business.
If you go down the 301-redirect route, then you need to conduct some further research. Once register an interest in buying the domain name, the seller should allow you access to analytics data, information about their link profile, and any other SEO related elements that you might be interested in. Again, as you’re buying from a competitor, this might prove to be more difficult than you’d like. All of these are important, as if you’re using a 301-redirect, all of that site’s SEO juice will be transferred to you.
Traffic data from analytics, including traffic numbers and where their traffic comes from. If your competitor wasn’t getting much traffic from organic search, do you really want the expense of buying the domain for so little return?
The quality of links in their link profile. Part of the reason for low search traffic might be that they had hundreds of low quality backlinks. Of course, you can remove or disavow these when you take over the site, but again that is a lot of work for an unpredictable return; ask yourself whether it is worth it.
The backlinks consideration is a particularly important one. If you’ve been working hard on your own SEO strategy, you don’t want to undermine it by carelessly attributing poor links and rankings to your site!
Look at your competitor’s blog. While it is likely that you’ll have a lot of similar content, they might have had some blogging ideas that you didn’t notice when conducting your previous competitive analysis. Evaluate all of their content and consider whether you could repurpose it onto your own site. Be sure to put your own take on it, don’t just take it and paste it into your site. Remember that it will need to have the feel of your brand and voice, or it will damage your overall strategy.
What type of job did your competitor do when it came to social media? Your best chance of making an impression here is going to be reaching out to those who currently follow them. Remember that social profiles are free and that only one or two people in a company might know the account details; you’ll probably be wasting your time if you’re having thoughts about taking over their current page or streams and rebranding it or using it to direct customers to your own site.
There are many ways to grow your business when a competitor fails. If you generate leads or make your money online, these SEO opportunities should be high on your ‘to do’ list when looking at how you can bring in your competitor’s old customers before they’re attracted to another company in your niche.