SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing techniques for small businesses, but it’s commonly overlooked or dismissed because of its complexity and common misconceptions.
If you’re an estate agent in Dundee and climb to rank one for Dundee Estate Agent, for example, you could drive thousands of potential customers to your website every month – many of whom ready to buy or sell – without having to spend a penny on paid advertising.
If you’re just starting out on an SEO campaign for your business, then you may naturally feel overwhelmed, but looking to your competitors for advice could help you get ahead of them…
Selecting the right keywords
One of the most important parts of any SEO campaign is selecting the right keywords to rank for.
Whether you’re running your own SEO campaign or working with an SEO agency, start by looking at your competitors and seeing where they rank on Google. Put some of your biggest competitors into an auditor such as SEMRush to determine what they’re ranking for and where they rank; you might be surprised at just how many keywords they’ve targeted.
Comparing your ranks to your competitors’ can also help you determine keywords that have low competition and high volume.
If your competitor is at rank 10 for ‘new houses in Dundee’ but they’re not optimising their content for that keyword, you could easily overtake them on Google and climb to the top spot with some link building and on-site optimisation. The key here is to focus on longtail keywords that are easier to rank for – once you’re driving traffic, you’ll have more time to focus on “hero” keywords like “estate agent” and “Dundee homes”.
Improving your content marketing
Developing high-quality content for your website is key if you want to improve your rankings on search engines like Google, but many small businesses forget to update their blog or litter it with poor-quality material.
Learn from your competitors’ drawbacks – perhaps they haven’t updated their blog in a year, which gives you the advantage of being an authoritative and up-to-date news source on property buying in Dundee. If the opposite is true, then look for ways to compete on content in other ways – video is on the rise and can help you improve your SEO. 80% of all consumer traffic will be videos by 2021, so get ahead while you can!
Optimising product pages
Analysing competitors’ products and services can help you to identify new opportunities (not only in SEO but in the services you deliver to clients) or change the way you present your stock to increase your reach.
If you cannot compete on price, then make sure your products are marked up with Schema to increase the chances of appearing on Google Shopping results, and take original photography and video content to sell the benefits of the products.
There are lots of other ways to optimise your product pages and rank ahead of your local and national competition – make sure your images include relevant keywords, build links to your product pages from guest posts, and internally link from blog posts and landing pages.
Focusing on user experience
We all know that a responsive, mobile-friendly website will help you rank well on Google, but today’s consumers demand more than ever before. Spend time perfecting your website’s user experience and look to your competitors for inspiration.
If a competitor offers VR on its website, allowing users to try on clothing, then you need to do the same to compete. If your competitors offer payments via Apple Pay and Google Pay, then you should follow suit, too.
Many user experience improvements won’t directly impact SEO, but they affect bounce rates and engagement, which is ultimately what SEO is all about. Focus on building a website or web app that delivers high customer satisfaction and make it your effort to continuously improve your digital offering using the latest technology to stay ahead of your competitors.
Before you start building links to your website, you should analyse some of your biggest competitors to weigh up the task ahead and find potential link placements and opportunities.
Be sure to factor in your budget and experience level.
If a competitor has built thousands of links from high-quality and authoritative sources like The Guardian and The Scotsman, then accept that you won’t be able to compete on link building without serious investment, and target longtail keywords with less competition rather than those competitive “hero” keywords.
You can also learn from your competitors’ mistakes. If they’ve built tonnes of spammy links from questionable sources, you’ll know where to avoid to keep your website spick and span.
Converting visitors into customers
SEO is all about generating leads, so push yourself through your competitors’ lead magnets (using a personal or throwaway email address) to see what they’re doing well. Calls to action and landing pages can be used to convert visitors into customers almost instantaneously, but a “slow and steady” approach often works best, building trust before going in for the kill.
By analysing your competitors’ lead generation techniques, you’ll be able to see what you need to do to increase the value of your offering – whether that’s more free content, building an eBook or overhauling your brand – and ultimately win more customers through SEO.
Local SEO can be just as effective, if not more so, than nationwide SEO. If you operate from a physical location, building a presence through local SEO allows your brand to appear first when people search for businesses in your industry, whether that’s hospitality or recruitment.
In fact, 72% of consumers who conduct local searches visit a store within five miles on the same day as their search, demonstrating the impact a successful local SEO campaign could have on your sales.
Make the effort to analyse what your competitors are doing locally – for example, are they updating their Google My Business profile? Do they have a presence on directories like TripAdvisor and Trustpilot? Up-to-date contact info on their site? Encourage reviews? Use location-specific keywords in their SEO campaign?
The more you can do to stand out from your local competitors, the more likely you are to be spotted and achieve that lucrative rank one on Google and Bing. Take the best parts of your local competitors’ SEO activities and elevate it – the more you do, the higher you’ll rank.
At Zudu, we’ve developed a unique 12-step SEO process designed to help you outrank the competition – both locally and nationally. Click here to arrange a free SEO consultation today.