It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you’ll always be competing with others to get that number one spot on Google. But sometimes it can seem like your competitors are always coming out on top, no matter what you try.
You’re pushing out high-quality content every other day, engaging with followers on social media, and your site is getting plenty of hits. For whatever reason though, you just can’t seem to overtake them in the rankings. So, what’s going wrong?
1. Using the Right SEO Tools
Having the right arsenal of SEO tools is crucial to swinging the search rankings in your favour. The question is though, what tools are “the right tools”?
A good place to start is the Google Keyword Planner. It’s free to use, helps you pinpoint which keywords are worth targeting, and if you intend on moving towards paid ads, it’s worth mentioning that this is the tool which a Google Ads agency would use. Since the tool also displays the low and high bid ranges, it’s useful in several online marketing environments.
Another fantastic SEO tool for checking on your competitors is Spyfu. With this tool, you’re able to view:
- All of the keywords your competitor is ranking for
- How much traffic each keyword is getting their website
- Where their
- backlinks are hosted
Like the previous tool, this is also useful for PPC purposes too. Once you’ve used Spyfu to gather some data on your competitors, you can start analyzing their strengths and weaknesses for your own benefit, and then adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.
2. Targeting the Right Keywords
SEO campaigns are built on targeting the best keywords possible. If your campaign doesn’t focus on the keywords that have a good balance of traffic and ranking difficulty, you’ll struggle.
Both of the tools in the previous section can be used for keyword research. With Google’s Keyword Planner, you can enter a few generic keywords that are relevant to your industry. In return, you’ll see a breakdown of keywords, how competitive it is to rank highly for them, and the average monthly searches they have.
Given that this is a free SEO tool, there’s no reason for not checking it out and perfecting your keyword strategy.
Recommended: Competitive Analysis for Impressive SEO Results
3. Making Small Optimizations
Small website optimizations won’t impact your rankings as much as you might like, but when you’re constantly being pushed down by your competitors it’s the little things that make all the difference. A few important, but minor, aspects of your website which factor into your rankings include:
- Page load speed. Having a slow website is bad for multiple reasons. Not only do search engines penalize your rankings but it dissuades visitors from sticking around. A common cause of slow loading is large images which is why it’s important to optimize any image you use – blog post headers, team headshots, everything!
Of course, there are plenty of other causes. You can use a tool like Pingdom which scans your website to determine which elements impact the load speed most.
- Broken links. Broken links can be very easy to miss. Maybe you linked a blog post on another website which they then removed, or perhaps you migrated your website and the URL management system glitched. Nonetheless, it’s important to monitor your site and replace/remove broken links quickly.
- Unoptimized images. Every image should have metadata, and alt tag, be scaled appropriately, and should have a reasonable file size. With image compression tools you can reduce the image’s file size without compromising the quality of it. Considering how many images most sites have on them, this is a good habit to develop early on.
- Mobile responsiveness. Depending on which platform you run your website on (e.g. WordPress or Shopify), you shouldn’t have any problem ensuring that your website is responsive. Most themes are developed with this feature built-in. But, if you make changes to the theme’s code while designing your website, this can affect the responsiveness.
If you’re not sure how to check if your website is mobile responsive, then use Google’s Mobile Friendly test. This will scan your website, show you how it appears on a mobile device, and give you feedback on how to improve your site for mobile.
Collectively, fixing these smaller problems with your website will support your rankings rather than holding them back.
4. Having a Backlink Strategy
It’s easy to forget about backlinks and there are plenty of people who prefer not to focus on gaining them. Getting your hands on high-quality backlinks can seem like a tedious task and can put a small dent in your wallet, but after you manage to grab a few of them, you’re golden.
Building backlinks aren’t easy and there are a few ways of doing so. It’s worth noting though that a single high-quality backlink (on a somewhat reputable site) will have a significantly bigger impact on your SEO campaign than hundreds of low-quality backlinks.
So, how do you get backlinks and what websites do you want to have backlinks on?
One method would be to use a scraping tool and get a list of your competitor’s backlinks. With this list, you’ll be able to see which sites are willing to host a backlink, get in touch with them, and discuss the terms with them. Alternatively, you can search Google for sites that are relevant to your industry and contact them instead.
5. Revisiting and Updating Content
The phrase “content is key” is popular in the online marketing community, and it’s true. Publishing high-quality content is an important part of any SEO campaign. Not only do search engines monitor your website’s content but an active blog shows potential customers that you take the time to write and publish relevant information.
Updating an old blog post simply furthers this point. It shows that after you’ve written a blog, spruced it up, and shared it on social media, you didn’t put it to the back of your mind and forget about it. Instead, you’ve gone back and updated any outdated points you made or added to the post to make it more informative.
It can be tempting to scrap old content and write a newer version, especially when your main focus is SEO. But abandoning content can help your rankings too and if your competitors are revisiting their old blog posts and improving them, this will boost them on Google.
SEO isn’t static by any means – Google makes minor changes to their algorithm on a daily basis while pushing out major updates every few months. On top of adjusting your SEO strategy to reflect these updates you also need to consider what your competitors are doing.
Without informing yourself on how your competitors are ranking and what they’re doing, you’re at a disadvantage (I’ll let you in on a secret: they’re watching you too!).
So, take into consideration the reasons we’ve delved into above and start observing what those around you are doing.
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