The great (or annoying) thing about SEO is that it is constantly evolving. The SEO practices that were acceptable ten years ago probably are completely irrelevant today. SEO always keeps up to date and adapts to new developments.
Because SEO is always changing, it means that you have to change with it. If you don’t adapt your strategy to the new way of SEO then a lot of your efforts would be for nothing. On top of this, there are new rules to follow. It is important you don’t break these rules otherwise your website could be negatively impacted.
For example, a common practice a decade ago was black hat SEO. Countless websites were using black hat SEO to help boost their Google search engine ranking while also sabotaging their competitors ranking.
Back then, Google didn’t have the rules and regulations they do now. This meant that businesses could easily get away with black hat SEO. However, today we call black hat SEO cheating. If you are caught by Google using these types of SEO tactics, you will be penalised.
No matter if you are using the black hat methods for the gains of your website or for the demise of a competitor, if you are caught there is a penalty coming your way. This is where the problem of negative SEO arises.
Negative SEO is where other businesses make it look like you are using black hat tactics in the hope that you will receive a penalty from Google. I recently wrote a blog about negative SEO. Negative SEO is used by businesses to damage the reputation and search engine ranking of other businesses in an unethical manner. However, there is a way to demolish your competition in an ethical way! I will talk all about this soon.
Important note to all those people thinking negative SEO is a good idea: when you use negative SEO, most of the time you are not improving your own website. As well as this, negative SEO doesn’t really have any lasting impacts so you could be putting in a lot of work for only short term results.
Negative SEO is never the way to go! Instead, you should always focus on more positive methods of SEO, like producing great content. On top of this, if you are looking to dominate your competitors there is a more ethical way then negative SEO.
This blog explains all the ethical ways you can dominate any competitors. You will see no black hat SEO tactics and as well you will see your own SEO improve. It’s a win-win situation! You will be able to watch you competitors’ ranking slip, while yours continues to rise. And you won’t get that pit in your stomach like when you know you have intentionally done the wrong thing.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best ways to beat out your competition (ethically):
Recommendations can work wonders for your business. Therefore it is important that you take the time to personally refer relevant people back to your website. This can also be used to prevent a consumer from visiting your competitor’s website.
I know you are probably thinking that there is no way a personal referral can do this. But let me explain! Let’s say you are running a business that sells basketballs and there is Greg, a customer looking on the internet to find a place that will sell high quality basketballs.
If Greg just searches on the internet, what is the likelihood that he will find your website amoung all the competitors? You may have a great ranking and therefore the chances are high, but it will never be 100%. You will never be guaranteed that Greg will be able to find you.
But! Greg decides that he wants a second opinion to find the best basketball possible. So he uses Quora or even Yahoo! Answers to help get other people’s opinion. If you reply explaining to Greg that you have the best basketballs, you are guaranteeing that he knows about your business and you increase the likelihood that he will visit your website.
However, it is important that your response is highly personalised. Don’t just say something like, “Hey Greg, we sell great basketballs on our website” and include a link. Your response needs to be engaging and make Greg want to click on your link. You need to add value!
Correct Competitors Business Name and Location
You have probably heard of Google My Business right? Well, this is where your business listing appears to the right of search results when a user is searching for either your business or similar businesses.
Google My Business makes it really easy to get your business to stand out from the rest. It is certainly easy to create your profile and Google loves it because it helps to create a more accurate user experience.
Still unsure? It might be better if I show you! I’m certain you have seen what I am talking about before. This is what is displayed when “SEO Shark” is searched:
Google My Business very beneficial and every business should ensure that set up their own profile. However, these days I am seeing a lot more businesses exploiting this tool to boost their own SEO. How are they doing this? Well, they are essentially keyword stuffing in their business name and using misleading information about their location.
Your competitors may be doing this in order to improve their chances of being found when a user searches for certain keywords. As well as this, their address may mislead users to think that they are actually a bigger company then they actually are.
If you find one of your competitors is trying to deceive both Google and users, there is good news because you can fix it! What you have to do is on their Google My Business profile click “suggest an edit”.
You will then be able to edit the Google My Business profile.
This will send a notification to Google and they will take a closer look at it. I know that no one likes a dibber dobber but really, when it comes to matter of the success of your business, isn’t it only fair that you are on a similar level to your competitors and no one is getting an unfair advantage.
Google will even ensure that you are notified when your edit suggestion is either accepted or rejected. Obviously you are only doing this ethically, so you will be telling Google the truth. Therefore more likely than not your suggestion will be approved.
Once the changes have been made to your competitors Google My Business, you can just sit back and watch their search engine ranking drop. Businesses that use keyword stuffing as one of their strategies often rely on other shady tactics to boost their ranking and once they are caught out, they won’t know what to do.
Spying on your competitors’ keywords is one of the best ways to get the leg up on your competitors. Keywords are an essential part of your SEO campaign; they are how users find you on search engines.
This is why it is no longer enough just to do your own keyword research, you should also take a look at what your competitors are doing.
But how? Well, just like a lot of things in SEO, there is a tool for that! You now have the ability to know the specific keywords other websites are using. This tool is called Alexa. It does cost money to use, but you can take a 7 day free trial!
After you have set up your account you can take a look at your “Competitor Keyword Matrix” (you can find this under the “SEO Tools” option). In essence, this tool will show you what keywords your competitors are using. Not only this, but it will also tell you how well the competitor is going for that particular keyword.
No matter the number of competitors you have or amount of keywords you want to search, this toll will be able to analyse all the data and showcase it to you in a very easy to read way. You can even download the table on to your computer for later use!
Side Note: Remember to cancel your trial before the 7 days are up if you don’t want to pay for this service!
Links are an essential component of Google’s ranking factors and therefore links should also be a major part of your SEO. When thinking about links it is important to ask yourself the two following questions:
- How many people are actually talking about your business?
- How many people are talking about your competitors business?
These two simple questions will help with your SEO. Think about it, the more popular your website is, the better it will rank in search engine listings. And this is the same for your competitors as well.
Popularity and authority send the signal to Google that your website is worthy of a first page ranking.
To increase your link popularity you will need a solid backlink strategy in place. I have just explained why it is so important to a proper backlink strategy but if you are itching to learn more about what you can do in terms of backlinking, I wrote a comprehensive blog about the topic.
To make your backlinking strategy even better you should try to receive backlinks from websites that have a quality domain authority. This will send the message to Google even faster that your website is important. This makes it even easier to improve your ranking while burying your competitors’.
Obviously we are doing these SEO tactics ethically, so you should never report spam to Google if there actually isn’t any. So before you go off reporting things, make sure you have a think about whether something is actually spam or not. Remember that your competitors could be using this tactic as well, so treat them like you would want to be treated.
If you believe that a competitor is spamming then go to Google Support. On this page you can report spam, paid links, or malware. Click the button “File a spam report”. Then there are nine different categories of spam to choose from. Choose the category that best suits the situation.
It is most likely that you will see spam from the following categories:
- Rich snippets;
- Paid links; or
Remember that accusing your competitor of spamming is a very serious issue and could result in the competitor receiving a penalty from Google. It is important to ensure that you are 100% sure you are reporting true spam.
SEO’s ever-evolving nature means that the best and most effective practices are always changing. It becomes extremely important for you to keep up with these practices and only use ethical strategies to boost your SEO.
Once upon a time, black hat SEO and even negative SEO was fairly commonplace. These days it is considered cheating and you should ALWAYS look to other, more ethical methods to improve your own ranking and crush your competitions’.
Firstly, you should keep track of platforms where potential consumers ask questions about products. Therefore you can recommend your product if relevant. Also, you should ensure that your competitors are playing fair by suggesting an edit to their Google My Business profile if you believe they are trying to mislead Google and users.
Keywords are a central component of SEO, so make sure you always keep up to do with your competitors’ keywords and how successful they are compared to you. Building links is another ethical method to improve your SEO. The more people link back to your website, the higher your authority and popularity. Lastly, if you see any spam coming from your competitors make sure you report it.
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.