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How To Rank For Highly Competitive Keywords
SEO is a competitive industry with every site looking to rank for these high volume generic keywords about a specific sector.
Every car insurance company wants to rank for "Car Insurance", every travel agent wants to rank for "travel agency", and the list goes on.
People are drawn to the most commonly spoken keywords in that industry, and it's no secret those keywords would have a reasonable amount of search volume.
Along with high search volumes, these generic industry keywords also have no shortage of big players, and even bigger budgets are going after the most lucrative keywords.
It's no secret that many businesses are sitting pretty on the top of search rankings for their generic industry keywords. Pulling in all the market share without much competition, but no site is immune to being outranked.
So how do you compete for lucrative keywords? Should you go head to head with the big boys or find an alternative route? It all depends on how clever you want to be and how hard you're prepared to try and win those keywords over from your competitors.
1. Create superior content
As you may well realise the term superior content is purely objective and there is no set formula for what determines a better piece of content.
However, there are a few guidelines you can use at your discretion to evaluate competitor content. These metrics may help you create a valuable article that can compete for search rankings.
Source the top 10 articles you find ranked for the "keyword" you're looking to dominate and review the following.
What is the content length
Content is still very much king, and a comprehensive article that tackles a topic with in-depth research and insight will always do well with Google. But that doesn't mean length is still an indication of high rankings within search.
More content often means slower page load, and this is a balancing act, not everyone can get right. Depending on your site's performance you could opt for a fully comprehensive one-page piece complete with graphics, youtube video embeds and the like
Alternatively, you would have to break it up across articles and target various search trends and interlink between one another and selecting one page as your primary for the high-value keyword.
How is the content formatted
Content is not only about putting together a well-written piece, and formatting can count for a large part of your ranking potential. Making sure you break up your content into bite-sized pieces crawlers and users can skim over to find essential pieces is one option.
While providing instant answers that can be marked up with the correct HTML is a great way to encourage a position zero ranking.
Is the content up to date
Some content remains ranked because its the oldest most trusted piece around, but this is where the opportunity lies. Content that is not frequently updated can be usurped by fresh articles that provide more insight or iterations on what was previously published.
Often sites with high ranking content do not review old pieces because they are unchallenged for so long.
Which is why updated content can work to your advantage. Creating an article with up to date facts, figures, new insights, research can see you move up the rankings and compete.
Is the content accurate
Depending on your industry, the content can remain relevant for a reasonable amount of time. But if you're in a space that moves fast, you may see content age rather rapidly and become outdated.
Google continually reviews content, it ranks, and if it starts to see a particular piece reduce in time on site and another increase. Google will begin to move the better performing piece up the rankings.
Content is not always created by an expert, with many blogs ghostwritten or commissioned externally. If you're an expert on a topic, you can quickly see when an article lacks in-depth knowledge or misunderstands subtle nuances of a subject.
Content accuracy works very well in highly technical niches where high-level overviews are not valuable to the reader, and they want a technical analysis of a specific topic.
Does the content have media options
Not everyone wants to read or has the time to understand your content, but that doesn't mean they're not interested in what you have to say.
Catering only for readers leaves a lot of potential traffic unsatisfied and would look for alternatives somewhere else.
Converting your various media options is a great way to get more value out of a piece and cater to different searchers.
Extending content can be with the help of a:
Various media formats help you rank not only in traditional search but Google Video Search, YouTube and Google Image search. They are giving you even more of an opportunity to attract traffic.
2. Have higher levels of social engagement
Social media may not have a direct impact on search rankings, but it can play a pivotal role as an indirect ranking factor. Search engines often use search signals to allocate a level of importance to a piece of content.
If a specific page receives a lot of shares, likes, retweets, pins and the like, it's often a good indication of high-quality content.
Once you've created a piece of content that is superior to competitors, has better formatting and is optimised for both desktop and mobile.
Then its time to use social media as your test ground.
Create specific niche audiences using social media audience targetting and actively promote your content to these people. If your content is superior, it will resonate with these users, and they will amplify it or direct other interested users to your site.
Both traditional and dark social is an excellent way of getting initial interest in your webpage and help build some authority.
This phase in the experiment will also test to see if your content does meet your audiences content requirements.
3. Have superior formatting
Content is not only about having the right facts, making sure they're up to date and wrote in the best English that even Grammarly would be proud to use in their ads.
The pieces you put out and your elegance with the common man's language.
To ensure you rank top of search results, you need to provide crawlers and users with a well-formatted page that speaks to various queries.
Depending on the type of content you may want to include lists, tables, short quotes or instant answers marked up with blockquotes and break everything down using your various header tags.
Formatting your post in a way that allows crawlers and users ways to skim over a page to find the right information about their query will naturally see you move up the ranks as your page begins to gain traction with readers.
Protip! For more on-page SEO and formatting check out our posts
4. Build better internal links
Internal linking is often a task that escapes other websites, especially those who do not have a full-time SEO working around the clock to optimised their site's performance.
When creating an excellent piece of content and pushing it live to an existing site. You can automatically provide it with a ranking boost by scrapping your website for internal linking opportunities.
Update old links
Review various content pages and blog articles on your site for specific contextual keyword mentions.
Once you have found keywords that relate to the content you want to rank for, start to create links to this new piece of content on those keywords.
Revisit old content
Then revisit content pages, blog articles and even YouTube Video descriptions to look for backlinks you have used in the past that could now be directed to this page.
Building a linking and content strategy around your new piece of content
Once you've exhausted all possible internal linking opportunities have a look at complementary content you have yet to produce. Then start creating these articles for additional internal interlinking opportunities going forward.
The more internal links that contextually make sense to send a user to that specific piece of content, the better.
Protip! For more on internal interlinking, tips check out our post
5. Build better external links
External linking can be a tricky one since you have very little control over what other sites publish. But there is a way to find places which may be interested in linking to your content.
Unfortunately for you, most of the top-ranking content already have several external links vouching for their direct superiority. Another competitive advantage is that they continue to gather links naturally by merely being top of rankings.
Review competitor links
Take the top ranking links for the search term you're trying to rank for and see where they're getting internal links from and which posts they've received mentions of features.
Then proactively contact these sites to enquire if they would be willing to link to your sites specific landing page or article.
Review brand mentions
Scrape the internet for articles that mention your brand, some may be linked, or some be unlinked. Once you've found these brand mentions you can start to contact these sites and request that they hyperlink to a specific article or landing page instead of the homepage.
Review comparative pieces
In many instances, you will find sites do comparative pieces on various service providers. Perhaps your brand was mentioned or maybe not, make a list of these compare and review articles and reach out to these authors for links to your content.
The internet is filled with list articles, people who produce content only by curating service providers or brands they like. Depending on your industry, this may be commonplace, and you may have many listicles your brand would be applicable.
Reach out to these webmasters and ask them to include your site in their list or summary article.
Protip! For more tips on link building check out our posts
- The Forgotten Art of Dead Link Building
- Build Local Links To Your Website
- Evaluate A Site Or Webpage For Backlinking
- How To Start Reclaiming Lost Backlinks
Search rankings aren't earned in a day and going for high volume keywords is probably the most time-consuming task you can take on in the SEO sphere.
You also need to remember your competitors aren't sitting around, so you're always trying to hit a moving target. This means that you're not only beating other sites in key metrics but putting some daylight between you and competiting sites.
You will need to constantly look at improving each month; this could either be through supporting content, improved user experience or more high-quality backlinking each month. The key is to remain consistent and keep adding to your strategy bit by bit.
Up there with the best
Your success in ranking for keywords may be affected by certain optimisation tactics but this is all for good reason. Search engines as well as people, people appreciate the genuine effort and want the best experience ranked first.
If you do take the time to create the best content and user experience you can be sure that over time it will pay off.
Remember search has changed and rankings are ever-changing and dynamically generated based on the user. So what you're looking for is not being numbered #1 for a specific keyword but gaining a larger impression share of the intent of a certain keyword.
Tell us your content marketing story
Have you been frustrated with returns organic search marketing? How have you been using SEO? Share your experiences with us in the comments section down below.
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If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on SEO.
- What is an SEO and what types of SEO's are there?
- How To Optimise YouTube Videos For SEO
- Best SEO strategy to move ahead of your competitor in 2019
- Should We Be Making The Case For A Full Stack SEO
- How Your Niche Website Can Benefit From SEO