How to Beat the Giants in the Search Results in 9 Simple Steps
What does it take to beat a giant? Sometimes trying to fight your way up the ranks of search results may feel like an impossible battle. No matter how much you improve your site, establish quality connections and wait patiently, those giant sites above you simply will not budge.
If you’re a David going up against a Goliath, there’s still hope. Let’s go over an SEO strategy that can keep your content alive on page one of the search results when you are competing against the big guys.
I’ll be covering 9 simple steps to help ensure victory:
- Use SEO tools
- Identify your competition
- Structure your site
- Rethink your keywords
- Improve your webpages
- Structure your pages
- Get more, better or the same links
- Get more SERP visibility
- More quality content
1. Use SEO Tools
You can’t analyze the competition effectively without tools. So, as you go into battle, the first step is to have a good arsenal of weapons. Here is a list of SEO tools that can help you perform many different functions as you gather intel on the competitors:
2. Identify Your Competition
Competitive research strengthens any marketing project, but for search engine optimization, you can’t do without it.
The sites that are the most relevant, trustworthy and high-quality for a given user’s search query and perceived intent rank the highest. So what better way to find out what the search engines want then to look at the victors?
You may think that only businesses offering the same service, product or information you do should qualify as true competitors. But in the search engine results pages, those first-page results are all competing to take your place — no matter what type of website. And so far, they may be winning!
3. Structure Your Site
You may find that all your big competition has invested in their website structure. But in some cases, they may not have. Either way, examine how their navigation and content is structured looking for what may be missing on your own site and/or how your site can do better.
SEO siloing is a strategy well worth investing in. This search engine optimization technique structures a website’s content by grouping related webpages together in hierarchical categories based upon how people search.
Search engines like Google promote organizing your site in a hierarchical structure like this because it’s not only helpful for search engines but also good for website visitors.
4. Rethink Your Keywords
If there are certain keywords that are dominated by big websites (with big budgets) in the search results and you’re simply no match, rethink the strategy. Going after the longer keyword phrases often levels out the playing field.
Long-tail keywords can actually drive a lot of traffic. Ahrefs published some interesting data on the opportunities that lie within long-tail search terms that’s worth looking at.
If you are an ecommerce site, you can add supporting articles that target long-tail keyword phrases. For example, if your business sells frozen yogurt dispensers, write articles about things that fro-yo shops might find helpful like how to install a frozen yogurt dispenser.
This will have the double SEO benefit of increasing your relevance for the main keyword and potentially ranking for some long-tail phrases that will bring new traffic to your site.
You can find other opportunities to beat the competition through keywords too. Say, for example, your competition has just lost rankings for a particular keyword (which you can discover with tools like Semrush’s Organic Research tool). You can analyze those webpages and see how you might beat them with your content.
Another question to ask yourself: Why are they searching for or wanting that information? If searching for “SEO,” for example, consider related queries like “how to get traffic to your website.”
5. Improve Your Webpages
To be least imperfect compared to your competition, you want to analyze the competition’s webpages and then make sure your page meets or exceeds them. Using the right tools, on-page optimization information is easily attainable. For example:
- Find out ranges for word count targets, meta data targets and readability targets for your webpages based on the top-ranking pages for the keywords in real time by using the Bruce Clay SEO WP plugin.
- Find out how the competition optimizes their webpage with keywords by using our Single Page Analyzer (or free version here). See what words and phrases are repeated and included in the important page elements like the meta data and headings. Seeing these on-page keywords should give you a good picture of how focused the page is on your targeted keyword phrase.
- Take it a step further and use the Bruce Clay WP SEO plugin to help you optimize your webpages well with your keywords.
- What about structured data markup? When implemented on your webpages, it can help them be more relevant for a search and enhance the way your webpage snippet shows up in the search results, which can increase click-through rate.
- SEO Should Beat the Competition, Not the Algorithm
- Want Customized SEO Advice per Keyword? There’s a Plugin for That!
- How a WordPress SEO Plugin Can Help You Optimize Your Content with Keywords
- The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist
6. Structure Your Pages
In some cases, you might find yourself competing in the search results with things like Wikipedia entries or featured snippets (position zero). In these cases, structuring your webpage content can help you compete.
Just some of the ways you can structure a page include using:
- HTML tables
- Bulleted lists
- Ordered lists
- Table of contents at the top
- Headings that contain a key term or question, followed by the answer in body text
- TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read”) summary near the top of your article
For featured snippets in particular, you can use the Featured Snippets+ tool to find out more data on how to optimize the page for your keyword.
If you’re competing against Wikipedia pages, you might get an edge if you take the subject matter a step further than they do. Cover the subject equally well, including the structure of the page, but add “how” content to give it a boost. Wikipedia is good at answering the who, what and when, but rarely addresses the how.
7. Get More, Better or the Same Links
Spying on your competition’s link profile can help you uncover what links and how many of them you might need to beat a certain webpage.
You can use tools like our Link Reports (powered by Majestic) to discover more about your competitors’ link profiles.
Once you have a good picture of the links to their webpage versus yours, you might think about identifying the quality, relevant domains linking to your competition whom you want a link from too.
8. Get More SERP Visibility
If you have a whole-SERP SEO strategy, you can stop worrying about beating just the 10 blue links.
A whole-SERP SEO strategy analyzes the features that show up most in the search results for target keywords and then optimizes for them. Features can be anything from videos to images to featured snippets and beyond.
The more real estate you own on the search results page, the less concerned you can be about beating that one blue link. And the more traffic you can drive too.
9. More Quality Content
If you and your competitor both provide the exact same product or service, and they are more authoritative and established than you, you’ll need a lot of original content to have a chance of competing online.
But it’s doable! If you are in ecommerce, for example, it can be as easy as replacing generic product descriptions from manufacturers with unique content. Or, if you can’t avoid them contractually, supplement them with lots of original text.
Take a look at more opportunities to create content by doing a gap analysis, too. You can use Ahrefs Content Gap tool to find out which keywords your competition is ranking for that you’re not.
You’ll also want to poke around the competition’s website to see if it offers any helpful content that you don’t — for example, tutorials, guides, videos, etc. You’ll probably need to make your site at least as full-featured to be competitive. More user engagement can mean a lot of things to Google.
Some of your competition may simply have more E-A-T (Google’s evaluation of a website’s or webpage’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness). While these kinds of sites may have tremendous clout in the search results, you can increase the E-A-T of your site and its content to compete.
Pre-Battle Pep Talk
As you head into battle and watch your competitors’ maneuvers, you’ll find out their strengths and weaknesses (and yours too!). Capitalize on them to develop an SEO battle plan to do what they do, only better.
I invite you to request a free consultation if you’d like to discuss how we can help with your website needs.