Have you ever run a search in Google for your company’s name or a product and noticed that a competitor has usurped your number one spot? If you have, you’re not alone. Many companies have fallen from their cushy top spots only to be replaced by a copycat website who spells their name just differently enough to avoid a lawsuit or a website which uses keywords related to your business, but have no relation to their own. These types of competitive practices are downright dirty and can be frustrating to deal with.

Online business is hard enough with legitimate competition. The last thing you need is some malicious website riding in from the wild, wild, web and galloping off with you search engine traffic. Fortunately for you, these bad practices are easy to combat with good ol’ fashioned, white hat SEO and web standards.

Start with a Well Coded Website — While a well coded website isn’t a guarantee of a top spot on Google, Bing or Yahoo; major search engines look favorably upon websites that are coded with care. A properly coded website makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl your website, makes easier to troubleshoot bugs and will make future website improvements easier to code.

Homepage Title Mojo — Experts agree that your website titles are extremely important to good SEO. Sometime, however, site owners overdo it. The title for your homepage should first be focused on your brand name (especially if you’re small) and the products/services you offer, second. Do not, I repeat do not stuff your homepage title full of keywords.

It’s all in the Description — If your website were a book, you description would be the book summary on the inside flap of the dust jacket. The book title attracts you to the book, but it’s the summary which compels you to read. Similarly, your description should be focused on summarizing what your site is about and convincing searchers why they should click on your listing versus your competitors.

Avoid Search Engine Penalties — Google has built into its search algorithm the ability to detect unsavory search engine practices. As such, the Google algorithm may levy a penalty against your website for what it deems misconduct. Additionally, members of the Google Search Quality Team manually review questionable websites and penalize or completely remove from its index, websites violating its quality guidelines. Penalized sites show lower in search results which could make it easy for your competitors to rank above you. Following SEO best practices should help you keep you out of trouble.

Social Media Profiles Are your Ally — Social media profiles which link back (or backlinks) to your website. Backlinks help produce search engine results listings for the keywords to which they are associated. Creating profiles and pages on these social media channels, along with creating regular content can help you in your battle against brand keyword hijackers:

LinkedIn
Google+
Twitter
Facebook
Wikipedia
Crunchbase
Slideshare

The above recommendations are all focused on getting your brand name listed as many times in the search results as possible ranking for your brand and product keywords. The more entries you have listed in the search results for your brand/product keywords, the less likely it will be that your competitors will be able to climb the ladder and rank above you.

About the Author: Collin Tate is a Search Marketing Specialist and contributing blogger at Webs. Addicted to Kitesurfing. Microsoft Nerd. Dancing Fool. Get more from Collin on Webs’ blog and Google+

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