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Competitive Analysis – How to Get Ahead in the SERPs

Getting ahead and staying ahead of your competitors can be tricky and challenging. Not for our three experts Andrew Chadwick, Francesco Baldini and Shane Barker who joined us on Tea Time SEO and shared their tips, read the presentation on slideshare. Francesco was kind enough to write down a summary of his insights about getting ahead in the SERPs. Read the details below:

1. Solid site foundations to beat your competitors

To rank in a competitive market you should first build the basis of good user experience (as well as Google).

  • Site speed and mobile-friendliness are the baselines, you want users quickly reaching your website from any device, especially if you’re in the B2C space.
  • Backlinks are one of the top signals Google uses to rank a page. Backlinks from relevant websites in your space are important. This doesn’t mean you should run after high numbers in your backlink analysis tools, focus on authenticity and relevance for your business.
  • Internal links can define areas of your website and show how important a page is. Anchor text and internal linking between contextual pages can play an important role when you already have traction in terms of traffic.
  • While internal links are important, you want to remove any difficulty for Google to reach your pages. Internal redirects and redirect chains can harm your internal link structure and lower the value of the connections each page has.
  • Each page should be focusing on the topic you want to rank for. And so your page structure, metadata, content should be optimised for that. Taking care of the on-page optimisation helps you to define the topic you want to rank for.
  • Your site should be crawlable, indexable and Google should be able to deliver it to their users. Your technical SEO plays an important role, periodically audit your website to find potential issues. Monitor your website from a technical perspective to make sure pages and content are accessible to both users and Google.

An example to mention is related to a problem I spotted in May 2020. With a change to their robots.txt file, Ryanair requested Google and other search engines to stop crawling the entire website. This can be incredibly damaging if your site mostly relies on organic traffic. This was also mentioned in Content King’s post about SEO Fails in 2020.

2. Content audit in a competitive market

Ensure you have a cohesive website meaning that you have content on your site that addresses the needs of your users and your company. You want to rank for topics and keywords related to your business. If users land on pages that do not convert or where users do not spend any time, you will not generate sales or leads. It is imperative to review your content strategy and become an authority for your targeted audience.

If your website is about bike tours and most of your traffic goes to the training and fitness area of the site, it unlikely that you will be able to generate any sales from bike tours. This is what happened to a client of mine, which developed training and fitness content that generated traffic, but very little sales of bike tours. We then improved their blog content related to the biking destinations and the sales rose by 10% in just 3 months. At the same time, we reviewed the site structure promoted the bike tour area and put the training and fitness section in a less prominent area, as some of their regular customers would be still interested in these aspects.

If an area of your website does not generate traffic or is irrelevant for your business, anaylse the why. Is the content matching the users’ needs or not? I have been working on a website with a few million pages, 99% of which did not generate any sales and received very little traffic. They were applying old tactics to rank for millions of long tail keywords. We decided to delete an entire section of the site, but kept their commercial pages live as well as the blog. The results were outstanding. In six months YoY from the onboarding time we took on the client there was more than a 135% increase in sales and there was over 180% more users YoY just from organic traffic. For more information, I have written the details on my blog.

Graph showing increase in traffic while the number of pages dropped

3. Keyword and problem research

As I mentioned in point 2, your site needs to generate sales and leads. Therefore it is important to identify and analyse who your best customers are, so you can develop a strategy to attract more of them. Establish why they bought from you and what would make them leave. This helps you to identify how customers see you and the main reason your product or service is the answer to their problem. It also helps to identify which elements your clients like the most so you can further work on this.

Look for customers’ “pain points”, their problems and create content focused on the solutions to that. You should identify their ultimate goal to create a content hub related to their issues and specific tasks you can use for pages helping them to solve a specific problem? A recent case I worked on involved an Italian language school for foreign students located in Italy. We figured out that one of the problems most students faced the most was their visa applications. There was very little documentation available online, any information about what students needed to complete in terms of regulation was not always updated and therefore students needed to always call the visa office. This was always difficult as the administration team rarely spoke English.

With our help, the school developed a website section to help potential students to learn about the visa application procedure and supported their students along the process. The results helped them to increase their traffic by 20% and inquiries by 10% six months after the implementation which was a great success.

4. Compete on other SERPs

Specific content ideas and resource creation for your target audience enhances the chance to rank for target keywords and phrases and leads to increased conversion rates.
Find new angles (different content niches) to reach a wider group who could become your customer. This is one way to dominate the SERPs.

While in the past the goal of the above-mentioned language school was to reach potential students already interested in a course, they found new customers. They targeted people interested in gap years, looking for work experience in Italy, people looking for longer holidays, people with Italian roots who wanted to spend some time either where their grandparents used to live or exploring Italy in general.

Thanks Francesco! We are ready to beat our competitors now! Share your tips with us on Twitter with us and make sure to check out our blog to get more interesting insights into the SEO world!

Image credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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