Did you know you will lose an average of 22% of your sales opportunities to a competitor? There’s only one thing worse than that – not having a chance to lose the opportunity in the first place. You’re losing 100% of those!
There are many reasons why you could be losing out to your competitors when it comes to search engine positioning, however after delving deeper into website performance for our free digital marketing competitor reports, it seems that sites are usually caught out by one of three main culprits…
1. You have a low level of brand awareness
Even some of the more established players can have a relatively low level of brand awareness. If you’re playing in a highly competitive market, the likelihood is that you’re being trumped by sites who have a high percentage of return visitors and direct traffic from people who already like, trust and know them.
One of the most common misconceptions in the industrial sector is ‘everyone already knows us’. That might be true. Except for the people who don’t know you!
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for brand awareness, it is something you need to build from the bottom up. A good place to start is to develop your brand so you have a consistent look and feel which is instantly recognisable to your audience. After all, if your brand has no personality it is likely forgettable, and the point of brand awareness is to be unforgettable.
Once you have strong, distinguishable branding in place, there are a few things you can do to extend your brand name and increase awareness. For example:
- Create relevant, valuable content – this will position you as a knowledgeable resource and keep users coming back for more. If done right, your users will likely share your content online which will extend your reach even further.
- Team up with influential members of your industry for collaborative content, guest blogging or podcasts.
- If you’re in a position to do so, providing free trials and samples are an excellent way to make an impression on your target audience.
- Increase your presence on the social media channels that are relevant to your buyer personas.
- Push your brand out using paid advertising such as Google Ads and on social media channels. Remarketing is also a great idea to increase exposure at a relatively low price too!
If you do suffer from weak brand awareness in your sector, make sure your keyword strategy is bringing users in. Something we see often in competitor reports are sites which rely heavily on their brand term for organic traffic. As you can imagine, this drastically reduces the site’s ability to be found by users who don’t already know them – losing potential prospects!
Naturally, it’s easier to rank for branded keywords as your site will be optimised towards those phrases. However, if you find yourself in this position it’s a good idea to start with some extensive keyword research.
Find out which terms you audience is using to find the information they need. Take into consideration the monthly search volume of these keywords and who you’ll be up against to win positions. Once you have a keyword strategy in place you can then start to build up brand awareness in your target audience.
2. Your competitors have higher keyword rankings
If you’re not consistently updating your site with relevant, thought leadership content, you are seriously hindering your chances of being found by new prospects.
As we’ve already touched upon, improving your keyword rankings directly correlates to your organic traffic levels which, in turn, will increase your authority score and search engine visibility.
Improving rankings for keywords is no easy feat. It takes time and consideration to increase overall visibility for your keywords. This is why it is so important to have a thorough understanding of what keywords you’re ranking for, how those keywords perform and who else is competing for visibility. When you understand these three factors, you can start to get a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape.
It is also important to track your keywords and phrases to ensure your presence is within the correct organic market. Time and time again our competitive reports reveal that sites are competing against irrelevant competitors in irrelevant markets due to poor keyword strategies.
In order to be found by your target audience via content creation you need to have a content strategy based around extensive keyword research. Not only this, but in order to increase your visibility, you need to update your content regularly. Really regularly.
That’s not to say that uploading a blog a month won’t increase your organic search or your SERP positions, because it may well do. However, HubSpot found B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost three times more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times a month. And if you’re looking to surpass your competitors in Google, you’re going to need to increase that organic traffic and site authority consistently.
Take, for example, a client of ours: MAT Foundry. In the last 12 months there was a significant increase in blog writing in order to bring in more organic visitors each month. Over the course of a year, 35 blogs were written on relevant, current topics and the results were undeniable.
65% of overall traffic was accounted to blog posts, with 81% of entrances to the website being blogs.
It increased the site’s overall SERP positioning. The site now has 25.62% of pages ranking in positions 1-20. That’s 410 pages all ranking in the two first pages of Google!
This had a knock-on effect for brand awareness, with a 98.92% increase in brand searches.
Armed with the right keywords and a killer content strategy, increasing organic traffic and keyword rankings will help you in your bid to surpass your competition!
3. Your competitors have better UX and engagement
Google’s ranking factors are a long, long list, but ultimately Google’s main goal is to provide their user with the most valuable results based on the user query. To do this, Google will look at certain engagement metrics and behaviour data such as Click-through Rate, Time on Site and Bounce Rate among others (Google is very vague on its actual ranking algorithm).
What’s important to recognise here is that the better received your site when offered on a SERP, the more likely Google is to rank it again. Steadily, over time, these rankings can be seen to improve, as long as content is kept fresh and up to date.
Google’s next update, which is due in May of this year, will start to pay particular attention to page experience. Google has listed page loading, interactivity and visual stability as 3 of the core web vitals that will play an important role in Page Experience ranking. This means that you need to get your site up together before the update is rolled out. If your pages are slow to load, or your site is not fully optimised for mobile, it looks like your competitors will have an easier time ranking before you.
A great way to look at how Google scores your site is to run a lighthouse report which can be done directly from your Chrome browser. This will give you a real-time view of your page load speed, your cumulative layout shift and your interactivity delay time.
It is worth noting here that Google have reassured users that they ‘will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content’. However, if you are working within a competitive market, it is likely that your competitors will have similar content to you, in which case
Another ranking factor are reviews. Google reviews are a particularly great way to increase your result page ranking, especially for local SEO. Therefore, it is worth requesting existing clients to review their experience with you so you can start to build up that database of delighted previous clients!
To improve your search engine rankings, you need to adopt a multi-faceted approach, focusing on fresh, quality content uploaded regularly, improvement of keyword rankings and overall improvement of your site authority. Although increasing each aspect can be a challenge, the good news is that one often directly impacts the other and so by focusing all your attention on one aspect, you often will see improvements in other areas.
It is also worth stressing the importance of the new Google algorithm update. It is so rare that Google give us an insight into their ranking algorithm that it would be a shame to ignore the forewarnings and wait until the update directly affects your search engine visibility. Take the opportunity to get ahead of your competition by improving your site’s load speed, interactivity and layout stability! This may give you the competitive advantage you’ve been looking for!