It’s enough to drive you crazy: competitors who outrank you for seemingly no good reason. They have shoddy digital marketing campaigns with fewer links, all lower quality than yours; they have poorly written content; they don’t have the reputation or history that you do. All in all, they have nothing going for them—yet there they are outranking you.
With hundreds of algorithmic updates per year, it’s sometimes difficult to determine just what Google sees in them. It’s easy to lose your mind thinking about it, but rather than focus on the competition in this post, let’s focus on your website and how you can improve your own rankings and digital marketing presence.
The 4 Keys to Online Success
After having been in digital marketing for over 11 years, I know there are 4 keys to online success. If you follow them, you’re almost certain to do well. They are:
1. Diversify Your Digital Marketing Strategy
To really succeed online you need to implement a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. That means focusing on all elements of digital marketing, including SEO, paid advertising such as pay-per-click, social media, and content. When one area gets slow, you’ll have the others to fall back on.
One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is that they don’t know where to focus their time and money. That’s where conversion tracking comes in. Implementing conversion tracking for your marketing campaigns will allow you to focus on areas with the best return on investment (ROI). For all online campaigns, you can use custom UTMs that will help keep track of your data in analytics. A UTM is additional data tacked on the end of a link URL that will help you determine anything from source, to campaign name, to PPC keyword. To create UTMs, go here.
Any marketing campaign requires measurement, and to measure you need a success metric, which is most often a goal conversion. For many WordPress sites, the easiest way to set up a goal conversion is to create a thank you page (which is noindexed, nofollowed) that can only be reached by filling out a form or purchasing a product. Many Ecommerce platforms integrate with Google Analytics to give more detailed data, such as product names and value of products purchased.
To learn how to implement goal tracking in Analytics, visit https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1032415?hl=en
To learn more about event tracking, visit https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/events
Once you’ve got your conversion or event tracking set up, you can begin setting up different campaigns: paid advertising campaigns in Facebook and Adwords; search engine optimization campaigns; content marketing (creating content and promoting it); and social media posting and management. Make sure to use unique UTMs for each of these.
2. Be Consistent with Your Content
You can’t write a single blog post, sit back, and wait for traffic to arrive; you need to create unique, in-depth content time and time again, which will help establish your expertise, authority, and trust (EAT). EAT is discussed in more detail in our Digital Marketing Guide to Starting a Business.
Set a goal to create at least one long-form blog post per month. Stick to your schedule and remember to include relevant keyword phrases in your post. If you need help researching blog topics, you can try typing a keyword, such as “socks” (if you sell socks), into the Google search bar and see what search suggestions are provided. Or you can do a search for “socks” and scroll to the bottom of the results page, to where it says Searches related to socks; there can be some good ideas there as well. Write a blog post around one of the suggestions. You can also try BuzzSumo. Note that if you’re going to write about a topic that’s already been written about, you need to create added value by taking what’s been written and going more in-depth.
3. Quality over quantity
All too often businesses are creating content for the sake of creating content, because everyone knows content is a good thing for digital marketing, but not everyone is willing to commit to quality content. Instead of taking one hour to write a blog post, take three. Better yet, take six or ten—that’s what the most successful bloggers are doing.
This philosophy goes beyond just content. In the SEO sphere, go for high quality links such as chambers of commerce, associations, or sponsorships and avoid cheap links such as directories that are unrelated to your business. Google has said from the beginning that the web should be about building relationships. Exchange content with horizontal competitors (not direct competitors). If you install residential windows, connect with a home siding guy (a horizontal competitor). You’ll both benefit from the relationship. Also, if you build relationships in the real world, you’ll find that they spill over into the digital world. So, put yourself out there!
Take time to have others proofread and edit what you write. There’s nothing that turns readers off more than typos and grammatical errors. These can look unprofessional and get in the way of your messaging. If you don’t have anyone else to help proofread, try Grammarly.
4. Go Where Your Competitors Can’t (or Won’t) Follow
The key to differentiating yourself from your competitors is going where they can’t follow. In most instances, that means creating unique content. Go the extra mile by creating:
- In-depth content – 1,000+ word pieces of blog content.
- Custom images and videos – create your own videos and photograph your own images.
- Unique brand voice – know who you are and who your audience is. Be true to yourself.
Video is becoming more and more popular, and people are consuming more of it than ever. If you supplement your content with videos, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that they just don’t have the time to do these things. You run a business, and that business is probably not a digital marketing business. If you’re not sure if you need digital marketing help, start with our free SEO audit tool.