Rand Fishkin just had a great post over on the SEO Moz blog that listed off five creative solutions to tough SEO challenges. Number four in this post focused on the idea of competing against a site with a strong lead in the SERPs for a particular keyword. In the WordStream guide to keyword competition, Larry outlined a process for getting around an inability to rank for a particular term:
For organic search, it looks like this:
Similarly, Rand outlines some great suggestions for out-manuevering more established competitors in the SERPs:
I see marketers banging their heads and their link building efforts against a wall, trying to outearn a competitor with a strong lead for a particular keyphrase (or a small handful).
Instead of trying to beat them at their own game, why not work around the system?
I think this first tactic mentioned by Rand and outlined by Larry is an under-utilized one, but when I’ve mentioned something similar to clients they often have trouble conceptualizing how the strategy would work for their site, so in this post we’ll walk through a specific example of how you can leverage this strategy.
Let’s imagine, for the sake of the example, that we’ve created some great pay-per-click software. We take a look at the SERP and see some established sites with lots of domain authority and some older links, so we decide we’d be better off targeting some different types of queries, namely informational queries, so we can consider our options:
For the sake of this example, we’ll transform the term. We can do this by targeting the core term, pay-per-click, and adding some informational modifiers. Aaron Wall at SEO Book has a great spreadsheet with a nice collection of potential modifers.
Here is Aaron’s list of informational modifiers, which is a great starting point for us:
Many of these fit the core term “pay-per click” nicely. Next we’ll want to pick a collection of the terms that fit the best with our offering and content we can create, and create a sort of mini-matrix where we map modifiers to content we can create to a logical offer. Here’s an example of what this might look like:
You could also attack the problem by leveraging a Free Keyword Tool or your own analytics to identify other informational keywords to target. Once you’ve settled on a list of modifiers you need to determine what type of content you can create, and what type of offer you’ll leverage to continue your relationship with this searcher.
WordStream creates a number of very informative free white papers and things like the Quality Score Toolkit, as well as a collection of free tools which they can then offer to searchers who land on pages via an informational query so that they can continue a relationship with the searcher, often eventually resulting in a free trial of the company’s core product offering.
By moving “up the buying cycle” in this way, we can target terms that aren’t as competitive and gain access to searchers we wouldn’t otherwise be able to message to and introduce to our product.
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