How to Rank Higher Than Your Competitors On Google
Hillary Weidner, Digital Brand Strategist
Any digital marketer will tell you that a high ranking in Google can be worth its weight in gold, but of course, that’s much easier said than done. While the multitude of factors and ranking signals that go into Google’s search algorithm remain a carefully guarded secret, several key search marketing strategies have leaked out over the years that have proven to be helpful for businesses looking to boost their position in Google’s search results. Below are some battle-tested techniques that will help you outrank your competitors on the world’s most popular search engine.
Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques
When done right, organic SEO can send a virtually endless stream of free traffic to your website on a regular basis. There are hundreds of different methods you can use to boost your organic rankings, but the following three techniques are by far the most critical to add to your SEO arsenal:
1. Improve the quality and quantity of your content. Many websites suffer from “thin content syndrome,” where their pages barely offer any content of substantial length or value. There are few areas of business left on the Web that are not crowded spaces, so if you want to garner Google’s attention, you’re going to have to offer content that’s far and away the most informative, helpful, and in-depth of all the sites in your given vertical.
For example, if the average length of an article on your competitors’ sites is 400 words, strive to provide articles with 800 words of rich, meaty, and lengthy content that answers your target audience’s questions and addresses their most prominent needs.
2. Improve your backlink profile. Backlinks are the backbone of Google’s search algorithm, and they’re arguably the most influential factor in terms of ranking over your competitors. If it seems like you’re having a tough time gaining an edge over a rival site, more than likely it’s because they have more relevant or authoritative links pointing to their pages than you do.
Fortunately, you can change this with a few key link building techniques such as commenting on related blogs, buying listings in high-quality Web directories (yes, this still works and works well), guest posting, sharing infographics, regularly posting in related forums, etc. As you become known for being an authority in the niche, you can expect to receive some highly relevant sites linking back to your web pages.
3. Improve your on-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to the technical aspects of how your web page is structured, as well as how efficiently the page is rendered when loaded into a Web browser. Some important elements to check include:
- Page load speed – Your site has to load fast in Web browsers, or it can count against your search ranking.
- Title tags, H1 tags, meta tags, etc. – Make sure that your target keywords are included in these tags.
- Usability – No broken links, no missing “alt” text in image tags, no duplicate content, etc.
- URL structure – Use actual words in your URLs instead of cryptic URLs that include all kinds of symbols, numbers, and characters.
- Any other aspects of site structure that make your web pages easier for the search engine spiders to crawl and index.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Techniques
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is an entirely different animal when it comes to learning how to outrank your competitors. Several factors go into how and where your PPC ad appears in Google’s paid search results, but below are some tried-and-true techniques that will help you maximize your positioning in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
1. At the very beginning of your campaign, temporarily bid higher than the recommended cost-per-click (CPC), which will boost the click-through ratio (CTR) of your ads right off the bat. Google tends to favor ads that demonstrate a good CTR, so even after you begin to slowly lower your bids, you will still benefit from prominent positioning while your CPC gradually decreases. This practice is known as “bid bumping.”
2. To the best of your ability, follow Google’s guidelines for boosting your AdWords Quality Score, as detailed in this guide. A higher Quality Score leads to a higher Ad Rank, which is the key metric that determines your ad positioning.
3. Take full advantage of Ad Extensions, which are a type of ad format that presents additional information about your business, such as your phone number, location, special offers, and/or links to specific pages within your site (a.k.a. “sitelinks”). Google AdWords offers a detailed guide for enhancing your ads via Ad Extensions at this link. By taking the time to set up Ad Extensions, you give users more reasons to click, and your ads might even possibly outperform ads that appear higher in the search results!
4. Pay close attention to your ad copy. Make sure to include an eye-grabbing headline, succinct text, and a very clear call-to-action. This will boost your CTR, which will in turn earn you a higher ad positioning.
A Google search engine results page is one of the most competitive places on the Internet, so you’ll definitely have to bring your A-game to outwit and outrank your competitors. Become a student of the techniques and methods outlined above, so that you can begin dominating Google’s search results for your target keywords.