Simply put, your competitor outranks you because:
- they have better pages (AKA better OnPage SEO)
- they have more authority & more links from other websites (AKA better OffPage SEO)
- their website is optimized for crawling and indexing (AKA Technical SEO)
- they are getting a boost from other platforms
It can be just one of these factors or a combination of them.
Now, before you accuse me of oversimplification, I’ll explain each of these factors in-depth and give you an easy-to-follow guide to outranking your competition on Google.
How to outrank competitors by improving your OnPage SEO
Your competitor outranks you on Google because their landing page is simply better than yours. Now, what exactly does “better” mean?
For Google, “better” means that the content is more relevant to the user and therefore the page has more authority.
The way that Google determines this is through a combination of search intent, CTR and user signals.
So, your competitor is outranking you because Google perceives their page as more authoritative. And Google does this because they match the user’s search intent better – and therefore satisfy the search query better. Users find their results more relevant and click on it more often and Google sees those user experience signals as indicators of good performance in turn rewarding it with higher rankings in the SERPs.
Here’s how to work with these factors to improve your relevance and authority using OnPage SEO:
Determine the search intent for each landing page
Search intent is the user’s objective when doing a query in Google. It is the goal they are trying to achieve.
There are 4 types of search intent:
The user is typing in a query that will help him find a specific domain. Usually this is a brand name.
Example: “Facebook”, “Morningscore” etc.
The user is looking for a product or service with an intention to buy it now.
Example: “car repair near me”, “buy Nike Air Max black”
The user is planning to buy a product but is unsure which it should be.
Example: “best seo tools 2021”, “galaxy note 10 vs iphone 11”
Pretty self-explanatory, the user is looking for information on a subject.
Example: “what is search intent?”, “how do I outrank my competitor on google?”
As you can see, these 4 types are rather different and will give you different kind of traffic.
So, if you are trying to sell a product, it’s not the best idea to optimize your product’s landing page for an informational keyword.
You can however use an informational or commercial keyword to make a top funnel page that helps the user decide in favor of your product and then send them to the product landing page.
This is not only important for conversion optimization, but also for ranking as a user that doesn’t find the content s/he expected, quickly clicks away from the page and gives Google a hint that the page is not the best choice to show for the query.
Improve search click-through rate
Search click through rate is a metric showing the percentage of people clicking on your website after it has been displayed in the SERPs. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions.
Why is search CTR important? The search CTR shows that your SERP listing matches the query right from the start. It meets the user’s expectations and that is why they click on it and go to your page.
This is somewhat of a “chicken and the egg” conundrum. Your competitor is not getting more clicks than you because they are ranking higher – they are ranking higher because their listing is better and gets more clicks.
So, how do you improve search CTR and beat your competitor’s listing?
- Improve your title tag
- Improve your meta description
- Optimize your landing page for rich results
- Work on brand awareness
Improve user experience signals
Google’s one goal is to provide the user with a great search experience. The algorithm is made to match the search intent with the content on a website and rank the websites based on many ranking factors including the quality of the content and how good page the experience is. One of the ways Google determines these two factors is to look at how the users react to the webpage. These user reactions are called user experience signals.
What are user experience signals?
User experience signals are behavioral patterns of users that lets search engines like Google know if they are having a positive or negative experience.
- Organic CTR for both one keyword and the average CTR for all the keywords the website ranks for
- Bounce rate
- Dwell time
- Repeat traffic
Some of these used to be a ranking factor but now their influence has been decreased. They are all still a good indicator of how well the users perceive and navigate your website. Keeping an eye on the data in Google analytics gives insight into which of these you might need to improve.
How to reduce bounce rate?
Bounce rate can most easily be reduced by:
- Speeding up page load time
- Removing intrusive pop-ups
- Matching search intent
- Making your site mobile-friendly
- Improving the design
- Improving readability of the content
What is dwell time?
Dwell time is the time the user spends on your page after clicking on the link in the SERP and until they click back to the SERP or close the page.
How to prolong dwell time?
Prolong dwell-time by:
- Providing quality content that the user is interested in
- Make content easy to find
- Include important information that matches search intent “above the fold”
- Improve readability of the content to keep users scrolling
Improve site structure
When I say site structure, I mean the way your pages interlink to each other and how the user is expected to navigate through the pages.
Sometimes, simply using a properly thought through menu is enough. But what if you have many landing pages that you either do not want to include in the menu or where including them would make the menu too big and confusing?
This is where internal links come in.
Internal links not only pass link equity between your landing pages, but they also facilitate the customer journey.
A link placed in the text will do the job, especially when it comes to the search engine crawlers. But they are not as effective in guiding users.
The links should stand out if your intention is to prolong the stay of the user. Clear CTAs and buttons usually do a better job as they are visually more attention grabbing.
Internal links help you create top tier pages that you can mark as knowledge hubs that then spread to the lower tier pages in the same niche. Also, the lower tier pages have internal links towards the top tier knowledge hub which feeds it link equity and helps you rank your main keywords.
Keep your content fresh
If you want to consistently attract visitors, you need to make sure that your content stays fresh.
The longer your content is present online, the staler it gets. There is a constant influx of new information online meaning that your article from 2015 (which performed really well back then) might need a facelift. Information that you provided back then might not be relevant anymore.
Just think of SEO for example. It is a field that keeps changing and evolving, making information that is 5 years old possibly incorrect or useless.
External links might link to a website that has since not been updated either or there might be other, much more relevant websites to link to now.
So, if you have been neglecting your content and your competitor made sure their content is nice and fresh, this might just be the reason why they have such an easy time outranking you.
How to keep content fresh?
- Create original cornerstone articles
- Update cornerstone articles and make sure that the content is always correct
- Update other pages that generate a lot of traffic (add new content, update external links)
- Consolidate pages that are similar and have low traffic – merge the content and use a redirect from one to the other
- Keep your website clutter free and remove pages that are of no use to you or your visitors (these are usually old posts with no traffic or landing pages of products that have since been removed)
How to outrank competitors by improving your OffPage SEO
Your competitor might be outranking you because they have better OffPage SEO. This basically means that their domain/page authority is higher than yours.
And how do you improve your authority?
You can improve your authority by getting other relevant, high authority websites to link to you.
So, your competitor is basically outranking your because they have more links and/or their links are of better quality. To outrank your competitors, you need a link building strategy that will get you good quality links.
What is a good quality link?
How do you obtain quality links?
A good link building strategy focuses on building a varied, natural looking profile.
Here are your options:
- Set up a guest post link building campaign
- Do some digital PR and publish news about your company on PR sites
- Get links from your clients and partners
- Buy some sponsored links
- Keep a tab on your brand mentions and get the sites mentioning you to link to you as well
- Write amazing content that will get you links naturally
How to outrank competition by improving your Technical SEO
Technical SEO is a fundamental basic, but not many companies know much about it, so this is your chance to get the upper hand on your competitor.
I have seen plenty of websites developed by professionals that were lacking when it comes to Technical SEO. So just because you paid a lot of money for a site, does not necessarily mean that the site is optimized. Most web developers do not have enough knowledge of SEO and can make the most basic mistakes when building a website, which will cause you grief in the long run.
This is what you need to focus on when it comes to technical SEO:
- URL structure
- Website speed
- Mobile friendliness
- Site security
How does URL structure help you rank?
By using keywords in your URL, you provide the search engine with more information on the content of the page and improve crawling.
Also, they are more efficient when you use them as naked links in link building.
Here is how to improve URL structure:
- Make the URL readable
- Include your primary keyword for that particular landing page
- Make it short (try to keep them under 50 characters)
- Avoid showing the folder path (links like https://morningscore.io/blog/category/link-building/how-backlinks-work should be shortened to https://morningscore.io /how-backlinks-work)
- Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_)
How does a fast-loading website help you outrank competitors?
Google uses your site’s page speed as a ranking factor. If your competitor’s site loads faster than yours, they will probably have better ranks too.
Two reasons why a slow page has low ranks:
- Loading speed affects user experience
Most users do not have the patience to wait for a slow page to load. This in turn negatively affects your user signals and conversions.
- Loading speed affects your indexation
Search engines do not crawl your entire site, they have a crawl budget. Slow loading pages take up more of the crawl budget, which means fewer pages get crawled.
How does having a mobile friendly site help you outrank your competitor?
Google starts the crawling process on the mobile version of your site and whether your site is mobile friendly or not has a huge impact on your rank.
This is what you need to improve:
- Responsiveness: making your website look good on all devices and screen sizes
- Mobile website speed: keep the page load speed under 2 seconds
- Intrusive interstitials: remove pop ups from your mobile version that do not have anything to do with cookies or age verification or reduce them to just a small banner at the top without them hiding any content
- Mobile usability: check for any issues in the Google search console
How does structured data help you rank?
Having structured data does not help you rank, but it does affect your ranking by improving your site’s user signals.
Implementing structured data markup on your site makes it easier for Google to interpret the content and makes your site eligible for rich results.
Rich results is what we call a search engine result that has been improved visually or has interactive features.
These rich results make you stand out in the SERPs and improve your CTR.
How does a secure website help you beat competitors?
Using HTTPS instead of HTTP can have a huge impact on your rankings. HTTPS protects user data by encrypting data that is being sent and received.
Sites that use this security protocol get a boost in their rankings, so make sure your site has it.
Outranking competitors by improving your other listings
Besides the SEO part, your competitors could also outrank you because they are using:
- Google Ads
- Google My Business
- Social Media
How do Google Ads affect your SEO?
Even though there are many claims out there about how Google Ads do or do not affect organic rankings, Google claims that paying for ads does not directly influence your position in the organic part of the SERPS.
However, ads do have an indirect influence and can be a valuable source of data.
How to use Google Ads to improve your organic rankings?
- Use them to improve your brand awareness
When looking for a product or a service, users need to scroll quite a way down to reach the organic results.Some users won’t bother, and some won’t even know the difference between paid and organic listings and will just click on the top result that they see (usually an ad). So even if you did rank number 1, your chances of being seen and chosen among competitors (both paid and organic) were low.
However, having an ad improves your online visibility and increases your brand awareness, improving your chances of being recognized in the organic SERP listings later on.
- Use them to collect data and improve your landing page and CTR
Ads offer an incredibly fast way of collecting valuable insights.
Before you invest a lot of time and money into building a new landing page with supporting content and links, you can test the keyword via ads and see if the leads you get are actually valuable. This will help you in determining the search intent. After you confirm that they keyword is indeed right for you and gives you buyer ready traffic, you can build a landing page (if you don’t have one that is) and work on improving it. Google’s Quality score will give you an idea of which aspects you need to work on to improve your conversion rate.
And finally, you can test different titles and descriptions and see which give you the best CTR. You can then use your insights when you write your title tags and meta descriptions.
How to use Google My Business to outrank my competitors?
Set up and optimize your Google My Business to improve your rank in local search results.
Having an optimized Google My Business listing can help you:
- display important information in the SERPs
- appear in the Local map pack
- gather reviews
- rank on your main keyword
- improve E-A-T
When you create a GMB listing, your company will be added to Google maps.
Google maps are connected to the Local map pack that appear in the SERPS when a user searches for local companies. Showing up in one of the 3 spots further increases your visibility and gives you a chance to display information that would otherwise not be visibly in an organic search result.
When you add your company name, you can try to add your main keyword. Sometimes Google will fight you on this and correct it back to only the company name, but if you are persistent, Google should approve it and your company’s GMB could get displayed also when someone searches for this keyword.
A GMB listing can also help improve your E-A-T. Expertise is verified through the reviews you gather, and trustworthiness is increased by verifying your ownership over the company and confirming that all the contact information on the listing and your website are true.
How do I use social media to outrank my competitor?
Social media can be used as a part of a brand awareness campaign. Having more people know and trust your brand will improve the chances of them clicking on your listing in the SERPs and in that way increase your CTR.
I hope you found some insights and are ready to begin implementing some of the recommendations covered in this guide.
As mentioned at the beginning, even changing a single factor might make a difference and help you outrank your competitor/s.