Getting your website to rank on the first page is a hard enough job on its own, but what happens when you work in a highly competitive industry, like tech, wellness, hospitality, e-commerce, or automotive? You probably put a lot of work into building your website and perfecting your services, and now you want to make a difference on the market. And yet, people need to hear about you first. 35% of product searches start on Google, and the first five organic results account for 68% of all traffic.
In 2020, your brand cannot live up to its full potential by word of mouth alone, so you need to invest in SEO if you want to increase visibility and aim for the first page. It might not sound like an easy job, and, in many respects, it’s not. When you have lots of competitors that have been in business for years, you need to be consistent because you don’t rank for high-competition keywords overnight. Here are some tips to get you started:
Your website needs to be top-notch
To stand out in an overcrowded industry, your website needs to be more than average. If you didn’t already know, Google takes into account hundreds of factors when ranking websites and the most important ones refer to website functionality: security, page load speed, mobile friendliness, website structure, and plenty of other technical factors that influence how bots crawl and index your website. So, before thinking of keywords, links, and other optimization tactics, ask an SEO expert to audit your website and tell you if there’s room for improvement.
Many business owners invest all of their development budget into flashy, futuristic designs that look out of the ordinary, but that’s not a guarantee. First and foremost, your website needs to be intuitive, usable, error-free. It’s the foundation of a successful business, and without it, your SEO efforts might be in vain.
Write content as if you’re already one of the big guys.
Don’t wait to become a reputable company to write like one. High-quality, compelling content will slowly, but steadily take you there. Paying attention to content marketing will help you rank higher, but the benefits will also extend to customer experience, who will gain more trust in you thanks to your content. When you’re trying to rank for high-competition keywords, you need to focus your efforts on two key areas:
- Good website copy – your product and services pages need to be flawlessly optimized and be relevant for your target audience. Every block of text needs to be informative and address user intent, so avoid writing generic text that’s only there for the keywords. For example, if you work in the CBD industry, which is one of the fastest-growing ones, you need to put more effort into writing detailed product descriptions, and create informative landing pages that educate the audience. According to Organic CBD Nugs, CBD consumers have very high expectations of their sellers, and if a website doesn’t have quality content, they’ll take it as a sign of unprofessionalism.
- Brilliant blog posts. A long time ago, having a blog on your website was a nice-to-have feature that often helped you stand out. Now, a website blog is the absolute minimum, and you simply can’t afford to post an article there and then forget it. The more you post, the more pages Google will index, so try to create a consistent posting schedule. For best results, write evergreen content on high-ranking general keywords, but don’t settle for average. Instead, write in-depth, long-form guides (2500+ words) built upon the skyscraper technique and be as thorough as possible. In between these guides, you can post shorter articles about industry news and trends.
Whether you write your own content or hire someone else to do it for you, don’t settle for anything else but premium quality. Write as if your website is already being read by thousands of people every day and as if you’re an established authority in your industry.
Don’t take black hat shortcuts.
Although they should know better by now, many business owners decided that they don’t have time to wait for their business to grow organically and that it would be smarter to cut corners through black techniques. Here’s the thing with black hat SEO: if these techniques work, they only work for a short time. Google has become very good and very fast at spotting bad practices, and the next time a major update rolls around, you’ll get a penalty almost impossible to recover from.
Read also: White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: Which Hat Should You Wear?
Even if the idea of skipping steps might sound tempting and you can’t wait to get to the first page and receive more orders, black hat isn’t worth it in the long run. Here are a few of the strategies to avoid:
- Doorway pages with high keyword density but poor user experience
- Purchasing expired domains that previously ranked well
- Private blog networks
- Link swapping
- Overoptimizing your website content and alt description
- Link farming
- Blog comment spam
- Using mirror sites
Grey hat techniques aren’t as punishable as black hat ones (yet!), but they can be risky too, so unless you want to complicate things, we recommend stickling only to white hat strategies.
On average, it takes anywhere between four to six months to see the first results of SEO, but that’s just an average. If you’re a new player in a highly competitive industry, you need to keep in mind that your biggest and oldest competitors on the first page are years ahead of you in terms of SEO efforts, and you won’t catch up with them overnight.
You need to be patient and, even if you don’t see any major results after the first couple of months, continue to post quality content and gain mentions on high authority sites. Most importantly, when you get close to reaching your goals, you need to work to stay there. New competitors will appear every day, and it takes long-term SEO efforts to maintain your position on the first page.
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