6 Phases of Outranking Your Competition
Phase 1: Knowing your enemy
These tips will likely not help you to outrank a huge, multinational organization with millions of dollars dedicated to marketing. Well, maybe if you follow these steps for years and gradually climb up the business ladder. Nonetheless, you will be able to outrank your current competitors and progress in your current market.
Choose your competition wisely. Here’s how:
- Choose realistic keywords. Google the keywords you want to be found for, and analyze the SERPs to see which keywords are dominated by small to mid-sized businesses. If large brands have overtaken a particular keyword, stop complaining about it and move on to other keywords. You cannot skip steps to become a successful player. In order to get to the top you need to secure your low position first.
- Analyze the domain rank of your competitors. Once you’ve spent some time in the SERPs, you should be able to identify your key competitors (sites that consistently outrank you on a number of different keywords). Check out their page and domain-level MozRank (find this using the completely free MozBar) and compare them to your own. If they rank considerably higher than you, move on to target other sites that will be easier to go up against.
- Check the on-page SEO of your key competitors. Now that you know who you’re going up against, analyze their on-page SEO. Are they using their keywords in their title tags, headings, alt image tags, URLs, etc.? If not, you’ve just found a way to improve on their SEO. Start approaching them by using similar keywords. People who are interested in your competitors will find you, as well. They will think carefully who to choose. Detailed explanation can be found here.
Phase 2: Competitive link building
You surely want to get credibility and reputation as a legitimate business. These steps will help you handle link building.
- Utilize your competitors’ links. Don't worry - you are not spying on anyone. This will help you get motivated and learn a lot about what works best. Use Open Site Explorer to see which sites are linking to your key competitors. Now try to learn how you’re going to get help from these links, from those same sites (or even better ones). This can be a good example of learning from your competition.
- Get brand new links with HARO. It’s OK to get the same links as your competitors, but you’ll need more than that to outrank them. Get free, high-quality links from huge sites like Huffington Post, Forbes or Times, by responding to media queries from Help a Reporter (HARO).
- Get local links and citations. If you’re trying to rank for local search, this is the best way to acquire citations (non-linked mentions of your business or brand name) and to get local links. Register your website with Google My Business and local reviews sites like Yelp and Yahoo Local. Actively pursue links from local business organizations like your chamber of commerce, and pitch interesting story ideas to local media.
Phase 3: Creating stunning content
- Write longer content than your competitors. 85 percent of the content that’s out there is less than 1,000 words. Considering that longer content ranks better. you should write longer, detailed content targeting the same keywords. People seem to think that longer content is more reliable and worthy of mention. Use it to your advantage.
- Write better content than your competitors. Look at the content that’s currently outranking yours and figure out what you can do better. Is the reading level appropriate to the audience? Figure out what they’re doing poorly and improve on it. You wouldn't want to waste your time on scarce content and poor grammar (you can find useful advice here), so why should your audience? Be better or hire experts.
- Write universal content that can serve as a resource. Consistently add content that will serve as a resource to your readers, to other bloggers and to journalists (these last two are key for getting links). "How to" posts, list posts, top resource lists and in-depth tutorials and guides are always good bets. You most surely have insider knowledge in your field. Use it to make yourself respected and appreciated. Once you establish a reputation of a trustworthy source, readers will most surely be coming back for more. Classics are always worth re-reading. Write for eternity.
Phase 4: Perfecting your own on-site SEO
- Optimize your on-page SEO. This has already been referred to above, but the importance of your on-page SEO can’t be stressed enough. Use your keywords in strategic locations on your page. Placing valuable keywords in your title tag and URL is of utmost importance.
- Optimized your site for mobile devices. With more Google searches now being done on mobile devices than desktop, you might lose a lot of business if your site isn’t mobile-optimized. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out whether your site is mobile-friendly, and to identify specific steps you can take to improve on your site’s mobile experience. Again, if you need help, hire an expert. You won't regret it.
Phase 5: Promoting your site and content
- Share your content on social media. While we know that Google doesn’t consider social media likes, shares and retweets as ranking factors, the indirect benefits of social media are clear. The more your content is shared, the more people there are who see it. The more people who see the content, the more links you will naturally attract. Having a large, targeted audience that’s ready and waiting to see and share your content is invaluable; and if your competitors are focusing exclusively on SEO, this can give you a serious advantage.
- Investigate how your competitors are using social media. Find out which social media platforms the competitor is using, and evaluate their media performance. Is this competitor noticeably absent on a platform where their (and your) target market is known to hang out? Has this competitor failed to take advantage of a popular niche hashtag on Twitter or Instagram? Do they have pages and profiles on certain platforms, but don’t regularly engage? Figure out what they’re doing poorly, and use this valuable information to your advantage. If you don't use this information from competitors, it is wasted and so will much of your effort, then, be wasted in the future.
- Use reviews as a way of advertising. We have already discussed this numerous times. For detailed explanation, click here.
Phase 6: Building a community
When you’re able to build a community - rather than just an audience - you don’t necessarily need to outrank your competitors for every keyword. As you become a trusted and respected leader in your field, your readers and followers will naturally want to buy from you; even if you aren’t outranking the competition.
- Build a community on your website. Maybe it’s not your rankings that will set you apart from your competitors, but your engagement and genuine interest in your readers. Responding to all blog comments (according to Neil Patel) is one way to build your community. Providing an on-site forum is another way. Make sure to participate and engage properly. Do not leave anything unattended.
- Build a community on social media. Create a Facebook or a LinkedIn group where you can interact with your community every day on subjects that are most relevant to your readers. These types of one-on-one interactions will quickly help establish you as a trusted entity in your niche. You can also interact with customers as one way of direct marketing.
- Regularly engage via email. Regularly email your list to maintain a constant connection. Make sure at least 80% of your communications are non-promotional, or you risk alienating your community. Direct marketing is about making direct contact with existing and potential customers to promote your products or services. Unlike media advertising, it enables you to target particular people with a personalized message. You will be using direct channels of communications and nobody will be between you and your customers, so e-mail is the method that is most commonly used today. Some businesses use catalogues, postal mail, telemarketing, texts, etc. As long as you make it seem targeted to a person, it’s effective.
- Respond to all emails. When your subscribers and website visitors email you, always respond. You have no idea how much this can mean to people, and really reinforces the feeling of the community you're building on your site. This is a disadvantage of direct marketing. Writing personalized e-mails can be very time-consuming. It’s effective, but that does not change the fact that it takes a lot of time to make e-mails appealing to various types of customers.
- Encourage feedback. When it comes to loyal customers, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get them provide feedback. It’s of crucial importance to your business to keep the conversation going with your audience. You can ask customers to rate the effectiveness of your support site or online community. Let them guide you in your efforts to create an effective customer service experience. If the experience is enjoyable to customers, they will surely become loyal to your brand.