In a perfect world, you would probably not bother thinking about your competitors at all. We don’t live in that world, though, so there’s a good chance they can act as a thorn in your side from time to time.

With a little thought and planning, you can do the same to them. In fact, there are a few marketing strategies you can follow that might not just make the competition take notice, but actually keep them up at night worrying about what you’ll do next. Here are five that are sure to rattle their cages…

#1 Optimize Your Pages for Local Search

A few years ago, the engineers at Google started noticing that lots of people were using the search engine to find local businesses and vendors. Since then, they started incorporating geography more and more heavily into search listings. By adding things like city names, phone numbers, and driving directions to your website, you can take big steps toward dominating your area, online and off. That’s sure to make other business owners worry.

#2 Develop a Strong Social Following

When you have a strong social media following, particularly on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, you have an easy and instant way to get in touch with your fans and followers. And, you have the ability to craft messages and updates that can spread beyond your initial contacts to their friends, family, and colleagues. Plus, there are few things as intimidating to your competitors as logging on to their favorite social site and seeing you have thousands of devoted potential customers on your side.

#3 Build Up Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation is essentially the sum of what potential customers can read about you when they Google your name, or your company’s name. And if there is enough, in the way of positive reviews and feedback, your reputation can have an immediate and lasting effect on sales. Customers trust you more because they’ve read the good things other customers have to say. We guarantee your competitors do not want to see a Google search for your business yield dozens of positive reviews from happy customers.

#4 Invest in a Responsive Website

Even though more than half of all web traffic originates from smartphones and tablets, many business owners are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to mobile functionality. By investing in a responsive website, you make it easy for mobile users to find out about your company and get in touch with you. You also strike fear into the hearts of competitors who have been putting off this kind of upgrade longer than they should have.

#5 Start Using Your Business Blog

Almost every website has a blog, but very few of them are updated on a regular basis. And yet, in the eyes of Google every new blog article is a brand-new page. The more of them you have, the easier it’s going to be for customers to find you on Google or any other search engine. Why not start a campaign of posting fresh content to your website on a weekly basis… forcing your competitors to wonder what will happen when they can’t keep up?

Of course, the best reason to take on any of these five projects is that it will ultimately be great for your company and earn you a good return on the money you spent. But, if you can manage to do them while rattling your closest competitors at the same time, isn’t that an added bonus?