With algorithm updates being rolled out on a more regular basis, staying at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) has never been harder.
Gone are the days of signing up to directories, exact match domains, and keyword stuffing; SEO practitioners must do whatever they can to outrank their competitors.
Sure, you can put out more grind work through aggressive link-building outreach, hire a PR agency or a bunch of content writers, but could these simple alternative strategies below give you the edge?
Tip #1 – Post content when no one else is
The notion that ‘content is king’ is certainly true – you need good quality content and regular content uploaded to show you are proactive and not a dormant site.
Content cannot be thin, with thousands and thousands of words, because it needs to be relevant and answer questions in your industry, presented by # tags, useful links, images, and videos where possible.
“A competitive edge over your rivals is posting content when no one else is,” explains Rosie Marie, CEO of Rosca Technologies, a data optimisation solution.
“You have to understand that Google is an algorithm and a machine and not just a bunch of suits who look at websites one-by-one.”
Google recrawls every day or at least every few days, Marie explains, stressing it is hard to know precisely when this is. “If you can post content at alternative times of the day or year and Google decides to index your site, who knows, this could give you a competitive advantage,” she says.
Marie notes her business has tried posting content on weekends – easy to do if using a content management system – because others are unlikely to do so.
“In addition, we take advantage of things like UK bank holidays and that lazy week between Christmas and New Year’s because Google could very well pick up that we are being more proactive than our competitors. If this is the case, don’t we deserve to rank higher?”
Tip #2 – Get impartial users to critique your website
We regularly hear that time on site is a good SEO indicator, after all, if people hang on your site for a long time and click through to various pages, this shows that your information is useful, compared to a user who comes and leaves after 5 seconds, resulting in a low bounce rate.
“You could ask your partners and people in your industry to look through your site and offer their feedback,” says Gavin Cooper, founder of Claims Bible.
“Start by posting on LinkedIn and Facebook and say to your friends that you have just redesigned your site or have launched a new business and would truly welcome some feedback,” he says.
“Some of the feedback may not be nice to hear! But you will get a lot of dedicated users really looking through pages and scrolling through and this is great for SEO, certainly in the early days of a website launch.”
Cooper notes businesses must be careful to not forget that a higher click-through rate on Google’s search results also helps during the early buzz of a site launch.
“For instance, if you are ranked position 9 and more people click on you than position 3 or 4, this should also help your ranking,” he says. “Similar ideas include sending out blast emails and SMS messages or making a big announcement on LinkedIn, but linking to your website. Don’t give LinkedIn the traffic, keep it for yourself!”
Tip #3 – Acquire links from simple sources
One of the most traditional link-building techniques is to create quality data-driven pieces and then email around and get links back to it as a resource e.g calculators, money that can be saved etc.
But not only is this very time-consuming but you have no guarantee over which links point back to you, and what anchor text is used.
“Our alternative technique involves finding websites that have already written articles or blog posts on your subject, whether you talk about health, finance, travel or anything that has expert opinion,” explains Luke Fitzpatrick, head of digital at Earned Media.
“Our approach involves reaching out to all those guides on page two to ten, contacting them and offering to give additional data to help ‘bulk up’ and refine their articles,” he says.
“Understandably, several publishers were thrilled to have more information in their articles and were pleased to give a follow link back as a reference. Link building achieved!”
Tip #4 – Using link bait that has already been successful
Content is king, but we know that links make the world go round. There are some things that work as excellent link bait for a brand, such as being nominated or winning awards, and being featured in press sections.
“But looking into competitors, there seem to be some lists that grab more attention than others,” says Richard Allan, co-founder of Capital Bean.
“Creating top lists such as best cities to do something, start a family or retire, tend to attract more interest than others, especially if they are filled with data.”
Allan also notes businesses should consider sponsoring large organisations in the health industry or non-profits since they often give a link and badge as part of it on their websites. “You get to help a great cause too,” he says.
“Another fascinating one is launching a scholarship or essay writing competition – which can attract links from universities and colleges if positioned well.”
Tip #5 – Are you starting to fall? simple, refresh the content
Finally, if you ranked beautifully for some big keywords but find yourself starting to fall, you can just consider refreshing the content and replacing it with new and improved information, taking other points used by those who seem to be ranking better lately.
Google loves fresh content, and this helps your indexability, so it would not be strange to update your main landing pages every 6 months or so to give you that refresh.