For over two decades, search engine optimization (SEO) has remained a vital component of digital marketing strategies worldwide. By conducting keyword analysis, making on-site modifications, and generating high-quality on-site and off-site content, businesses can enhance their website’s standing in search results for their desired audience.
While this may sound promising, many first-timers face significant challenges when starting an SEO campaign, primarily due to competition. New entrepreneurs often discover numerous similar companies that have invested years and substantial funds to rank for their targeted keywords.
So, how can you compete with such formidable opponents?
Understanding the Issue with Competitors
To begin with, let’s delve into why competitors pose a challenge in the realm of SEO.
Although the internet is virtually limitless, ranking opportunities are not. About 25% of users click on the first link displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs), with clicks decreasing significantly for each subsequent position. Hardly anyone ventures beyond the first page or the initial ten rankings.
When a competitor ranks first for most keywords relevant to your business, you’re instantly at a disadvantage. At best, you can aim for the second spot, which results in significantly reduced traffic. Toppling your primary competitor could demand an enormous amount of effort.
Addressing the Issue with Two Strategies
There are two primary ways to tackle the issue of SEO competitors:
Brute force: This approach involves trying to overthrow the competitor. It might work if you have only one or two major adversaries or if they lack a robust SEO strategy. However, this method is generally time-consuming and costly, with benefits that may not justify the investment.
Differentiation: The alternative is to distinguish your brand in some way. By doing so, you essentially remove yourself from direct competition with your most significant rivals.
The Brute Force Method
While feasible, the brute force method’s primary drawback is the sheer amount of effort required to surpass a well-established competitor. As Paul Hoda SEO expert states, “a £1,500 per month budget may very well not be sufficient to turn things around in a highly competitive niche.”
In the most favorable scenario, it could take months or years and substantial financial investment to outperform your main competitors, who might increase their budget to maintain their dominance.
For most brands, differentiating yourself is a more accessible option.
Setting Your SEO Strategy Apart
Why struggle when you can carve out your own unique niche?
Employing the right differentiation techniques allows you to dominate a completely separate set of SERPs. Some examples include:
- Target audience: Consider focusing on a different demographic than your main competitor, resulting in a vital shift in keyword targeting and bypassing them entirely.
- Target keywords: By incorporating additional keyword variations and long-tail phrases, you can steer clear of a head-on confrontation. Short, precise keywords are highly competitive, while long-tail phrases can be easily acquired, despite their lower search volume.
- Content type: Gaining an edge by offering various content forms, such as in-depth writing or alternative mediums like videos or podcasts, can set you apart.
- Publishing range: Diversifying your off-site content publishing, including featuring in publications from different niches, can be highly advantageous.
- Geographic focus: Local SEO enables you to concentrate on outperforming businesses in your area, which is typically much simpler than competing nationally.
Complementary marketing strategies: In addition to SEO, consider implementing secondary marketing tactics, like social media or email marketing, to bolster your efforts.
Formidable competitors will always be an issue in SEO. In a truly open, “blue ocean” market or niche, ranking is easier than in a highly competitive environment. However, with the appropriate strategies, you can outsmart the competition and triumph in their own arena.
Even in the face of aggressive competition, businesses should not lose hope. With perseverance, creativity, and strategic planning, it’s possible to make headway in the crowded world of SEO. Here are some additional tactics to further strengthen your SEO strategy:
- Collaborations and partnerships: Forge alliances with complementary businesses or industry influencers. By combining resources and sharing expertise, both parties can benefit from each other’s strengths and reach a broader audience.
- Exceptional user experience (UX): Prioritize providing an outstanding user experience on your website. By ensuring fast loading times, mobile-friendliness, and intuitive navigation, you can boost user engagement and positively impact your search rankings.
- Regular content updates: Consistently publish fresh, relevant, and high-quality content to maintain your audience’s interest and demonstrate your expertise in your niche. Staying current with industry trends and addressing user needs will help you rank higher in search results.
- Build a strong backlink profile: Earn high-quality backlinks from reputable websites to improve your domain authority and search rankings. Guest posting, creating shareable content, and engaging with industry influencers are some ways to obtain valuable backlinks.
- Monitor and analyze data: Regularly review your website’s analytics and SEO performance. Identifying areas for improvement, as well as understanding what works, will help you refine your strategy and make data-driven decisions.
- Adapt to search engine algorithm changes: Stay informed about the latest updates and changes in search engine algorithms. Adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly will ensure you stay ahead of the curve and maintain your competitive advantage.
By incorporating these additional tactics into your SEO strategy, you can further set yourself apart from competitors and carve out a unique position in your niche. Remember that SEO is an ongoing process, and staying adaptable, proactive, and committed to continuous improvement is key to long-term success.