Apr 11th, 2019
How to Outrank Your Competition in 120 Days or Less
…even if your competitors have been doing SEO longer than you have!
If you’ve just created a new website, you may fear that you have no chance of outshining the competition when it comes to earning those top spots on the search engine results pages (SERPs). After all, competitors who already dominate the SERPs may have been focusing on search engine optimisation (SEO) for years whereas you’re only just getting started.
Fortunately, just because you’re new to the game doesn’t mean you can’t catch up with your competitors – and you can do it much faster than you might expect.
If you don’t take SEO seriously, your website will fail to be more than a drop in the ocean. Why let your competitors steal traffic, leads and customers that could be yours?
In this in-depth guide, we’re going to tell you how to catch up with – and outshine – your competitors regarding SEO so that you can start making an impact online in four months or less.
Naturally, there’s a lot to say in this guide about SEO and analysing what your competitors are doing to earn the top spots in order to beat them, which is why, if you lack the time to get to grips with such complex topics, you can always ask for professional help.
At Smart Traffic, helping our clients earn the top spots in the organic search results is just one aspect of what we do, and we dare say we’re pretty good at it. If you need help, give us a call. Alternatively, keep reading below to learn how to outrank your competition in 120 days or less.
Step 1: Identify Your Best-Performing Search Engine Competitors
- Find out which companies rank highly for your keywords on the search engines
- Use an SEO tool to identify your competitors quickly
First, if you’re new to SEO, you should probably avoid trying to catch up with competitor giants such as Samsung or McDonalds. Even if they rank for keywords you’d like to rank for, catching up with these giants will take a lot of time and resources.
As a side note, you may want to rethink the keywords you want to rank for. Seeing the same gorilla brands appear at the top of the SERPs constantly likely means the keywords you’re targeting are too broad or generic. You might want to learn more about keyword research to determine which ones to target.
Google Search Console is one of the handiest free tools available to find keywords for your website, so familiarise yourself with it if you’re serious about SEO.
Simply put – you need to find your top online competitors by Googling the keywords you wish to rank for before copying and pasting the top five or ten URLs into a spreadsheet.
Alternatively, you could use a tool such as Rank Tracker, which not only identifies your top competitors but also lets you know how difficult they’ll be to beat.
Step 2: Gather General SEO Statistics and Use Them to Draw Comparisons
- Validate the progress of your competitors’ SEO efforts
- Calculate the ‘difficulty score’ for all your online competitors
Now you know who your competitors are, it’s time to start the validation process. Create the following columns in a spreadsheet:
- Domain PageRank
- Domain age
- Alexa rank
- Page PageRank
- Page’s backlinks
- Domain’s backlink
To fill these columns with accurate statistics, using online tools such as SEOQuake is essential. Compare the stats in the table with your site. If all your top competitors exceed your site with regards to the stats, mark the keyword as ‘difficult.’ Depending on your comparison results, you can get ‘easy,’ ‘moderate’ and ‘difficult’ groups of URLs and keywords.
Alternatively, save time by using Rank Tracker, which does all the hard work for you. To make things even easier, you could call our specialists to handle the task.
Step 3: Analyse Your Competitors’ On-Page Strategy
- Examine your competitors’ content strategy
- Carry out SEO audits on your competitors
Now, things start getting a little more technical, but still doable if you’re willing to put in the time. You need to see what your competitors are doing regarding onsite and on-page optimisation.
Go back to your list of URLs, open them using your preferred browser and scour through their source code. You’ll be looking out for things such as:
- H1 and H2 tags
- Link anchors
- Meta descriptions and titles
- Image ALT attributes
- Nofollow tags
If you notice similar keywords in these primary elements, you can bet your competitors have tried to optimise their websites for the search engines. In addition to looking at keyword usage, examine how catchy the headings and titles are to determine whether they inspire click-throughs.
Rather avoid going through the hassle of the process above? Use a Site Audit tool such as WebSite Auditor – or call us to perform a site audit for you.
By either using a tool such as the one listed above or calling us to audit your site as well as your competitors’, you can quickly:
- View crawlability and indexing issues
- View stats for URLs and links
- Check whether a website’s coding is optimised
- Examine your competitors’ on-page strategy
If you can see that your competitors are struggling with technical issues, you’ll gain the upper hand with regards to one aspect of beating their SEO efforts.
Step 4: Find out How Your Competitors Are Generating Backlinks
- View all your competitors’ backlinks
- Analyse their backlinks
- Determine the type of backlinks they have
- Develop link building methods
- Replicate any links that will give your SEO a boost
As you may be aware, building backlinks to your website is one of the most effective ways to boost your ranking. However, due to the recent Google Penguin update, the quality of your backlinks is much more important than quantity. In fact, links to your website from websites that are completely unrelated to yours could have a negative impact on your ranking.
To analyse your competitors’ backlinks, you can use a tool such as Ahrefs, which provides you with a comprehensive list of competitors’ backlinks, how powerful they are and much more.
When analysing backlinks, you should be looking for certain factors:
- Find out how many backlinks your competitors have
- Check how many unique domains the backlinks come from
- Examine the anchor text used by your competitors
- Review the ‘Link Value’ data for backlinks
- Determine which pages have the most backlinks
- Look at the percentage of ‘Nofollow’ links
Evaluate the Types of Links
- Check if your competitors are guest blogging
- See where your competitors are blogging
- Identify any forums your competitors participate in
- Determine whether any links are paid for
- Find out if your competitors sponsor conferences or events
Evaluate Link Building Techniques
- Determine the types of content your competitors produce to obtain links (how-to guides, photos, infographics, etc.)
- See if they invite people to write guest blogs
- Check whether they receive reviews
- Find out if they hold competitions
The Final Step
- Examine how time-consuming and costly their link building strategies are
- Replicate links that bring positive link juice
- Avoid backlink opportunities that could hamper your ranking
Step 5: Examine Competitor Social Media Accounts and Keep Track of Mentions
- Analyse the social signals your competitors have
- Examine their social media pages
- Track social media mentions of competitor sites and yours
Social signals don’t necessarily influence a site’s position on the SERPs, but they can generate traffic for your website, which is why you shouldn’t bypass this step.
First, find out whether your competitors take part in social media campaigns by searching for them on platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yahoo Answers, etc.
If you use Rank Tracker, you can look at your competitors’ social signals under the ‘Keyword Difficulty’ tab. You can also use a tool such a BuzzBundle to monitor mentions of websites – including your own – on social media platforms.
If you find out your competitors aren’t active on social media, it may mean they either haven’t started a campaign yet but intend to do so or they attempted a strategy that proved unsuccessful.
However, if you find out your competitors are being rewarded for their social media efforts, you might be able to determine whether you could profit from doing the same. If done effectively, being active on social media can give your branding a boost, drive traffic to your site and ultimately bolster your bottom line.
Step 6: Analyse Your Competitors’ Ad Campaigns
- Analyse the content of their ads
- Take a look at their landing pages
SEO is primarily concerned with achieving a high rank in Google’s organic search results (the ones that aren’t paid for). PPC refers to the results you see right at the top of the SERPs in the sponsored links section. Most digital marketers agree that aiming to rank high in the organic results should be your top priority, but spending money on advertising can certainly yield a return.
PPC is especially useful for driving traffic to your website for keywords that are hard to rank for.
When analysing your competitors’ PPC campaigns, look at their:
- Ad copy: How are your competitors attempting to win click-throughs? Pay attention to keywords, figures and titles.
- Landing page copy: What does a user see if they do click on a sponsored search result? Pay attention to the structure of the content in addition to CTAs, sign-up forms, conversion paragraphs and unique selling points.
- Landing page source code: If you’re tech-savvy, you can analyse competitor site source codes to see if they’ve been using retargeting to convert as many users as possible. Hiring an SEO specialist to handle this kind of task might be your best bet if you’re unfamiliar with HTML.
Step 7: Continuously Monitor Any Changes Your Competitors Make
- Monitor the ranking progress of your competitors
- Keep track of their new backlinks
- Check whether Google updates have any impact on your competitors’ rankings
Like it or not, you continuously need to track what your competition is doing if you want to remain competitive regarding SEO. After you’ve completed all the steps above, you’ll need to do the following from time to time:
- Keep looking back to see if your competitors’ rankings are increasing or decreasing
- Find out whether their websites are growing and how quickly
- Always look out for new backlinks a website is generating
- Every time Google announces a major update, find out how it impacts on your competitors’ rankings.
The easiest way to do all of the above is to either let an SEO specialist do it for you or use a tool such as SEO PowerSuite. Such tools are designed to be intuitive, but they’re admittedly hard to get your head around if you’re new to the world of SEO and online marketing. Fortunately, reputable SEO agencies use such tools to their advantage and always stay on top of the latest updates.
Don’t be disheartened if it turns out you won’t be able to beat your competitors ranking as quickly as you expected. You can still learn some invaluable tips and tricks that will help you generate leads and convert them into customers by following the steps detailed above. Remember, there are other things you need to consider as well, such as mobile-first indexing, to remain competitive in the online world, which is why hiring a professional SEO agency can be such a worthwhile investment.
Let Smart Traffic Handle Your Online Marketing Campaigns
Here at Smart Traffic, we’re a leading SEO company in Sydney that has already helped countless businesses make a success of themselves online, and we can do the same for you. We develop bespoke marketing campaigns that include content marketing, PPC, SEO and much more, and we only employ industry experts with years of experience.
If you have any questions about the steps detailed above, need some general advice or want to find out how we can help you reach the first page of Google, don’t hesitate to contact us on 02 8205 3133. We can audit your site, see what’s working and what’s not, and develop a holistic approach to marketing that will take your company to new heights.