Google Battleship is the New Competition Comparison Tool

content ranking google

Google is a pretty simple tool. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. The internet is an ocean full on content and yet Google can consistently match you up with whatever it is you’re searching for.

For a content provider, this makes tailoring your message toward your unique audience that much more important. But how well are you answering your audience’s questions? Are your competitors doing it better than you? And how do you get ahead of them if they are?

Sure, there are plenty of software analytics tools out there that show you and your competitor’s rankings for keywords (and also cost money), but none that show you exactly where the missed opportunities lie (or make doing research fun, which is almost impossible).

This is where Google Battleship comes in to play. What the heck is Google Battleship?! Well, I just invented it, and we’re still in alpha testing. But by the time we’re done, it will be the latest free research tool used by marketers everywhere!! (jk, it probably won’t leave this blog but that’s neither here nor there) Let’s talk about how I came up with this outrageous idea.

My company currently in the growing stages of digital marketing. We’re starting to produce video, but we have no idea what we’re doing, so some obvious research was needed.

In case you were wondering, video marketing is, like, the thing to talk about on the internet these days. I can’t tell you how many blog posts, guides, and videos I’ve read and watched on the topic. It’s actually exhausting!

I had a long list of questions that I was typing into Google, but Google wasn’t always giving me posts with the right answers in them. It was hit or miss. I remember saying “this is like playing Battleship.” and then, it dawned on me. Could I actually play Battleship with a search engine? I had to find out!

Like all great experiments, I need to establish objectives and rules of the game before I get started. I’m a legitimate scientist here and there’s no room for monkey business.


  1. Find out which content providers are getting the best rankings on Google for a diverse set of question on a given topic. (That topic today will be video marketing).
  2. Find questions that aren’t being directly answered by content providers or are difficult find on the results pages. (These could manifest as opportunities to produce content no one else has thought of yet).

Great! Now let’s establish some ground rules.

The Rules of Google Battleship:

  1. You must ask complete questions. No keywords or broken phrases like “video marketing blog” or how to sell online” The search must be formulated as a complete sentence with question mark. This is just limit the options available for search queries, considering there is an infinite amount of possibilities.
  2. You must collect only the first 5 posts that answer the question being askedThe internet is full of too many blog posts and we want to take note of what appears first. The first 5 posts (that actually answer the question we’re asking) are called HITS and will receive one point for each question. This means if you find a post you like better after the first 5 qualified entries, it can’t be used.
  3. Posts must be organic, no paid ads. Organic search is what is actually going to give you the answers you’re looking for. The paid advertisement was boosted to the top by money and therefore doesn’t belong with the others. They are disqualified from contention. (Most people skip over the paid ads anyway)
  4. You can only pull from the Top 5 rankingsThis is a game-changer, and I’ll explain why. If you find a blog post that answers the question searched to perfection, but it is the sixth item in the results page, IT CANNOT BE USED. The only posts that qualify for examination are the Top 5 rankings for that question, even if none of them answer the question. If such an occurrence happens, the question is considered a MISS, and must be reformed (asked in a different way), that will hopefully get better Top 5 results.
  5. You can only navigate one click off the SERP. This means no navigating to other articles through the blog or downloading ebooks, guides, or infographics. This competition is about the search engine rankings, so if quality info is found further along in the funnel, it doesn’t count. 

Now that everyone knows the rules, let’s begin!!


The Questions:

Thinking from the mindset of someone who knows nothing about video marketing, I wanted to ask questions that would sequence a newbie video marketer’s attempt at conducting the necessary research.

The first question would probably be why do I need video marketing. Next would be whether video marketing would work for my specific business. Then, how they could get started with it. After that, there are an infinite number of questions and orders a business owner could ask so for the sake of time, I narrowed the questions down to two additional important inquires: What types of video can I make for my business? and What video marketing strategies get me the best ROI?

This gives us 5 questions, or more importantly, 5 answers we are seeking. Since we will be taking 5 posts for each question, that gives us a total of 25 points possible for our content providers to collect. Obviously, you’re actual research will contain more questions than this. You’re board could look something like this…

Google search questions
Battleship game board.

Alright! Let the games begin!


First Question: Why is video marketing important?



Importance of Video Marketing ship: Sunk!

Conclusion: Well, that was easy! Clearly bloggers get this question a lot. And for good reason. People don’t start new ventures without understanding the reasons why they should.

Bottom Line: Technology finally gives us the ability to do it without breaking the bank and people would rather watch a video than read. Ain’t that something?


Moving along…


Second Question: Can I use video marketing for my business?


Wow, wasn’t expecting that. Looks like question one is so popular that is takes over the Top 5 rankings for other similar questions. Let’s try some variations…


Next Attempt: How do I know if video marketing will work for me?



Next Attempt: Is video marketing for me?



Next Attempt: Do I have the right business for video marketing?



Next Attempt: Is video marketing right for my business?



Finally got one! Let’s run with this…


Next Attempt: Is video marketing right for my industry?

Lots of results 6-10 but nothing 1-5. MISS.


Next Attempt: Is video right for my industry?

1 HIT:



Next: Is video right for my business?

1 HIT:



Next: Is YouTube right for my business?




Business fit ship: Sunk!

Conclusion: That took a while! Either the question is too similar to the importance question or anyone, in any business, can leverage video marketing. This does seem like a missed opportunity for content writers to help a customer struggling to see the benefits for their specific industry. I could see a series on blog posts or videos on industry-specific video marketing being successful in the rankings.

Bottom Line: The question about fit is more about what video platform is best for you. Having a YouTube channel requires that you have a lot to say or show. Take a look at what your competitors are doing and either catch up or get creative and make something new happen. . Be consistent with your videos and use YouTube for documenting the valuable things you do on a daily/weekly basis. The other platforms (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter) are more utilized for short advertisements/stories, or to preview to the videos you’ll find on your YouTube channel.

Moving on!


Third Question: What do I need before I start video marketing?



Next Attempt: How do I get started with video marketing?




Getting started ship: Sunk!

Conclusion: Some familiar faces are showing up again, but the points are still spread pretty wide. This question is a popular one dealing with strategy and execution. It can be answered in a variety of ways.

Bottom Line: Video Marketing, like basic marketing, requires a strong understanding of your target audience. If you are just getting started with video, it might be best to start small by creating a video for a piece of content that you have already had success with. You can also get started with video testimonials as they also help you understand your audience’s goals.


Fourth Question: What types of video can I make for my business?



Next Attempt: What types of marketing videos can I make?

1 HIT:


Types of video ship: Sunk!

Conclusion: It’s clear that Google does a good job of putting the right content in front of you. I’m surprised at how many new faces surfaced for this one. We’re four questions in and it is still a wide open race!

Bottom Line: If you’re business involving taking any sort of action, you can make a video about it. If you give a presentation at an event, make a video. If you give a consultation to a client, make a video. If you show a new intern around the office, make a video. If you throw a rock in the ocean, make a freaking video! Maybe not the last one, but people like watching business run at a high level so document what you do. It can always be edited later (wink).


Fifth Question: How do I get the best ROI with video?




Next Attempt: How do I measure ROI of a video marketing campaign?



ROI ship: Sunk!

Conclusion: Another great question, with great answers. However, it is getting more and more difficult with each passing question to recognize a frontrunner in this race. The rankings are so different from question to question.

Bottom Line: Getting the best ROI on your video marketing campaign requires that you are able to track ROI. If you employ other marketing strategies, it is difficult to know specifically what caused someone to make a purchase. Videos are much better evaluated by their views and engagement. Find out what those measurements are worth to you in dollars and calculate ROI from that.

Alright! We have learned a ton about video marketing and are ready to tally up the teacher rankings. Let’s see how everyone did…


content bloggers scoreboard



We have a FOUR WAY TIE with each victor achieving 2 total points out of the 25 possible points. The points were spread among 21 contestants in the field of video marketing.

As you can see, competition for content visibility is at an all-time high in video marketing with no one truly established as the main authority. These results could be dramatically different across other niches and industries, but it is a telling way of understanding the players that are competing.

If you want to find out how your content is performing against your competitors and potentially find a new opportunity to become visible, a quick game of Google Battleship is a great place to start.

In case you want an overview of the experiment here is the slideshare presentation:

Remember, Google Battleship is still a work-in-progress so if you have any ideas or just want to shares your thoughts, please leave them in the comments section below.

God speed everyone! And happy hunting!

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