Although every business owner wishes they had the same amount of competition as an Eskimo ice salesman, that often just isn't the case and you'll need some awesome competitive niche SEO strategies to have search engine optimization success.
SEO Strategies For Competitive Niches
First things first, let's get an understanding. If you're in a competitive niche, buckle up and get ready for a ride. SEO is almost never instantaneous, especially if your industry is like a supermodel who's announced she's desperately looking for a man at a bachelor party. Put in the work, but be patient. Let all the douche bags hit on her with lame pick-up-lines and inappropriate comments. The guy that usually prevails is the one who played it cool and just made casual conversation. He'd listen and learn from all the guys who tried before him. He had enough sense to sit back and wait for the prize, but didn't expect it to fall out of the sky either.
SEO strategy for competitive niches is basically the same thing. You need to win each of the small battles before you even think about declaring yourself the winner of the war. This is one of the most common mistakes that website owners make. They don't realize that SEO isn't a single bout, but rather a war of many battles in which you must match and exceed in all of them.
To give yourself a fair opportunity and a realistic chance of winning the war, you must win each of the 7 battles described below.
1. Plain is Pain- Branding
When the competition is stiff on search engines, you need to set yourself apart from everyone else. That includes branding your company in a unique way. Plain is pain. Nobody is going to be impressed or remember your company with boring, run-of-the-mill marketing efforts. You can put all of your time, money, and energy into advanced SEO techniques if you want. Ultimately, you'll end up with hurt feelings, an empty wallet, and high blood pressure if you don't start with an awesome marketing plan.
Sometimes a proper marketing plan means redesigning your site or totally starting over from scratch. Before you start changing Meta titles, writing articles, or designing images, you need to have a theme for who your company is and what it represents. It needs to make you stick out. It needs to make people remember you. It needs to be so over-the-top that customers can't help but tell their friends about you.
Branding and Marketing Suggestions:
- Use humor
- Use controversy
- Make up new words
- Use catchy phrases
- Be a freaking human & market to humans
- Give your company a mascot or character
- Give your targeted consumers the brutal truth
- Cover the topics people want to know about
- Expose the industry's secrets
- Overall, just be unique, cool, funny, controversial, and/or crazy
All of the above mentioned ideas are meant to increase your chances of visitors telling their friends about you, linking to your website, or sharing a link to your site on their social media accounts. More importantly, it makes a lasting impression on your website visitors.
2. The Right Writing Rite of Passage- Content Marketing
With the above mentioned branding tips in mind, it is time to take a look at and develop your content in a way that accents your marketing plan. That means the text on every single page should be unique, engaging, and interesting. It absolutely needs to be well thought-out and grammatically correct. If you write content the right way, it will be a rite of passage for your company to get to the big leagues when it comes to SEO results.
Without good content, you're doomed. Competitive niches are competitive because there's money to be made. There are tons of people who want to get their piece of the pie. Unfortunately, only a few make it. The majority of the site owners who give it a whirl believe they can just build a few links and voila, success. Sorry to burst your bubble Mr. Opportunity, but that isn't how it works. You're going to need links built naturally if you want to play with the big boys. The only way to accomplish that is with top notch content.
Here are some awesome SEO strategies associated with content marketing:
The 50/50 Mentality- Consumer vs. Industry Marketing
Of course you're in business to make money. Obviously, you need the content on your site to attract targeted consumers. So, it is pretty self-explanatory and a no-brainer that the text should be optimized for keywords and phrases that your targeted audience would search for.
Aside from that, you also need to market your company to your industry as well. As a general rule, you should split your content 50/50. Half for your consumers: the other half for your industry.
You see, the top dogs in your niche have an overwhelming number of backlinks. If you try to catch up with them, it will be like chasing a Corvette on a moped with a flat tire. You need links built naturally. By presenting unique, world-class content to attract other members in your industry, other sites will link to you. Those links usually carry more weight than any you could build on your own.
Avoid The Hit It and Quit It Approach- Get Busy and Stay Busy
If you don't have a blog, you need one. You should add at least one article per week every single week from now until the day you drop. Your work is never done. This needs to be done consistently and religiously. Here are some SEO tips for your blog:
- Put well thought-out and engaging articles
- Make sure the articles are at least 800 words
- Target a different, but yet relevant keyword in each article
- Split the articles 50/50 between consumers and your industry
- Internally link your blog articles to sales pages or other important pages on your site
- Use a wide range of topics and angles such as news, informational, personal experience, etc.
3. Go Local or Go Loco- Local SEO
Without a shadow of a doubt, you need to do local search engine optimization if you want to even stand a chance of competing with the big names in your business. In fact, even if you want to market your products nationally or world-wide, you need to focus about 75% of your efforts on local SEO when you are first starting out. Local SEO is less competitive and usually has the highest conversion rate.
There's a thin line between greed and ambition. If you start your campaign trying to go for the whole enchilada, you'll eventually go loco (crazy) because you're taking on too much and receiving too little. Tackle your local market first, and then expand your efforts. This SEO technique is one of the most commonly overlooked reasons why the majority of businesses in competitive niches fail. There are tons of niche specific SEO techniques that you can use when doing local search engine optimization. Use the pounce or bounce mentality to find these opportunities, which is explained below.
4. Either Pounce or Bounce- Expose Weaknesses
Part of your SEO strategy in a competitive niche should be to expose weaknesses in your competitors marketing. You can get some helpful insights to how their SEO techniques made them successful by looking at their content, links, and social media profiles. Find out what they're doing. You'll have a much more educated approach rather than going at it with a shoot from the hip mentality.
What to look for:
- Determine which keywords they are targeting
- Get links from the same sites as them
- Get ideas and use tactics that work for them
- Find out if they do any offline marketing
- Do they have any partnerships with local companies
- See which of their social media posts that got the most engagement
- Learn which marketing channels they do and don't take advantage of
If you're not at all concerned or interested in what others are doing, then you need to get out of business completely. Bounce. You don't know everything and if you're arrogant enough to think you do, you will end up being just another SEO failure.
5. Sleep With the Enemy- Industry Networking
Okay Mr. Dominate and Destroy, you need to calm down. You can conquer so much more when you have more friends than enemies. You need to get out there and "dance with the devil" so to speak. That means socialize and network with the same people you are trying to compete with.
Now, why in the hell would anyone want to do that? Well, you attract more bees with honey than vinegar. Often times, the people who you think are your competitors really aren't.
Let's say you own a mail-order peanut butter and jelly sandwich shop and Bob down the street does too. You hate that guy. He's taking money out of your pocket and you're losing customers to this nimrod. Well, maybe not. If you start networking with Bob, you might find out that he only offers strawberry jelly, while you only offer grape. What if he sent you customers that want grape jelly and you sent him ones that want strawberry? The two of you might just become best friends and both businesses receive benefits in this bromance from heaven.
Although far-fetched and silly, you get the point. There is more good than harm associated with industry networking. Use social media sites like Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter to meet new people and take advantage of opportunities such as:
- Joint ventures
- Mutual referrals
- Guest post opportunities
- Linking opportunities
- Learn the tricks of the trade
- Get new ideas
- Discover marketing tactics that work/don't work for them
- Get their contacts and resources for different things
- Get advice and guidance for free from qualified people in your industry
6. Give Up the Goods- Social Media Bait
Stop playing hard to get and just give up the goods. Yes, give your product or service out for free or at discounted prices on social media sites. Of course you need to make money, but to do that on the largest scale, sometimes it takes sacrifice. If you truly have a good product or service, then you should be able to give out one and get 2 in return.
Aside from that, the real reason that you should do this is for the SEO benefits on social media sites. Posting contests, promotions, and discounts are like big news in a small town. The word will spread fast and your site will get tons of social signals and backlinks, which can directly impact your search engine rankings and traffic.
A few ideas to consider:
- Like us on Facebook to get 10% off
- Print your buy 1 get 1 free coupon on Facebook
- Get a free XYZ when you purchase XYZ this month
- We have special holiday promotions
- Happy Birthday! We're giving you a free XYZ
- Our company just donated XYZ dollars to XYZ charity
- Make a coupon and put it out there on coupon sites
- The best caption for this funny photo gets a free XYZ
7. Reputation Preservation- Protect Your Name
The above mentioned SEO techniques for competitive niches are all useless if you don't protect your reputation. That means you need to keep track of reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Places, and Yellow Pages. Those silly little stars can be the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. You also need to keep up with forums, blogs, and other websites to make sure there is no bad press associated with your brand. If and when there is, you need to respond publicly and privately. Make things right with the customer and apologize for any wrongdoing. If you fail to do this, you definitely won't have as many sales as you should. Plus, your competitors will expose these weaknesses and eat you alive.
The above mentioned scalable SEO strategies work. Plain and simple. If you fail to do them, or even just leave one of them out of your arsenal, you're asking for trouble. Even if you get some short-term success, someone else will eventually come behind you and follow these 7 competitive niche SEO strategies, which will leave you in the dust. It takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work to build your online presence up to the same level as your industry's leaders. Remember, SEO isn't a war that is fought on one battleground, but a war where the battlegrounds are spread out all over the place and you have to win at each location.
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Dennis Miedema is the founder and CEO of Motriz Marketing and crazy passionate about online marketing. Whenever he's not ranting about internet marketing, Dennis loves to watch movies or The Dog Whisperer and playing games on his Xbox 360 like a total geek.