How do I compete with huge companies in search rankings?

As a start-up, do you worry about how you’re going to compete with established companies with huge budgets?


It seems daunting and out of reach, but it is possible to compete in search rankings, we promise. Start-ups need to narrow their focus, hone into the human questions that they have the answers to and compete on their own terms.


Make your business stand out online by taking out those broad keywords that would suit your ‘better-equipped’ competitor. Using longer keywords that draw on the buyer intent will be the lifeblood of any startup’s ability to challenge big-budget rivals. You can compete with huge companies, but you have to use your niche to compete on your own terms.


Here’s how:


Avoid broad keywords

Look for the longer keywords or questions that you rank for. What is it that gives you the edge over the big competitors? Maybe it’s a location, a better price or product specialization?


Use this to your advantage and avoid using general keywords, such as “shoes” or “cloud data”. These searches will produce a mass of results, effectively burying smaller businesses.


By hitting the specific nail on its specific head, so to speak, buyer intent will significantly increase and ROI will benefit considerably.


Our very own Tim Hanson, who focuses on content hacking and SEO, explained:


“Adding one or two words to a phrase that a bigger company is ranking for could very well be an easy way in to rank for competitive keywords.”


Narrow your focus on the customer

So with that in mind, how do you avoid broad keywords to boost traffic? Narrow down a pain point that you’ve been able to deal with as a startup.

What was the problem?


Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to think content. People don’t go looking for solutions to things they’re happy with. Blog posts should focus on an issue that your start-up can solve.


Think about the buyer intent behind keywords with specific questions such as, “How do I take my payroll to the cloud?” or “What are the benefits of cloud storage for my remote team?” These terms, which are highly focused on buyer intent, are engaged in a pain point that potential customers are looking to solve.


Tim adds:

“Focusing on people’s problems and pain points is a simple way to design a keyword or keyphrase strategy that focuses on customer intent and how you can help them.”


Longer keywords have less competition

The more specific you can be, the more you separate from the competitor.


Makes sense, doesn’t it?


There’s really no need to fight with huge companies in the search rankings. Separate yourself by being precise in your topics or search terms.


These kinds of lengthened keywords should address real-life issues. As much as you keep hearing that SEO thrives on keyword repetition – customers are not robots looking at how many times a specific phrase was uttered during a piece of content. While ranking high is the aim, the customer should be at the forefront of decision-making.


Figure out what the content will be tackling or solving for the potential customers and the keywords will naturally fall into place.


GrowthMinds SEO longtail keywords graph


Thinking about, and hopefully answering, those human questions is a much more successful long-term strategy than trying to play the system by cramming in keywords.


According to Search Engine Land 2017 was the first year when drove 34.8 percent of site visits compared to social networks which accounted for 25.6 percent of referral traffic. This is why being specific to your company’s niche in your keywords it so important. It will drive people to your site and, if executed well, turn them into paying customers.


While ranking high is the aim, the customer should be at the forefront of decision-making. Click To Tweet


Content helps people over the sales funnel

When thinking about how to beat the competitor, we’re really talking about improving sales.


How can we rank higher than huge firms and then convert clicks into stealing their sales?


The goal should be to pre-empt the questions that people would have prior to buying your product or service. These should be the basis of your content strategy. Getting in there with the answers before the customers even know they had a question. Help your potential customers get over the sales funnel and investing in your products.


Yes, energy should be put into making content rank as high as possible to oust competition. However, it’s important to remember that these posts should primarily aim to boost ROI by answering those niggling questions.


Content should help people overcome hurdles in the sales funnel by addressing issues before they turn into real problems that could hold customers back from purchasing.


If their problem is a wall, then your content is a ladder

Customers are more likely to buy if they feel informed and confident in a product or service.


For example, imagine a ticketing resale business. By understanding the current climate in the industry, they know that people are worried about being scammed or ripped off by touts. They have fears that the big resale company’s such as StubHub, Ticketmaster or Viagogo have connections with professional touts that continue to bulk buy tickets and resell them at inflated prices.


Potential customers might have questions such as: “How do I know if my concert ticket is real or fake?” or “Where can I buy face-value official tickets for Justin Bieber? Or even “What is a ticket tout?”


This is where a small business can step in before these worries prevent a sale. By providing content that resolves these issues in a customer’s head, you break down the sales funnel, which encourages those people to buy. Simple right?


You are probably wondering how you can identify the right pain points and transform them in keywords or key sentences that answer the questions that your clients have in mind.


This is an exhaustive 6 minutes video produced by SEMRush that can guide you through the process of identifying specific keywords.


So, how do we compete with major companies in search rankings?

To summarise – we don’t. By avoiding broad keywords in our content, we can avoid the need for direct competition. In other words, it’s competing on your own terms. Find out what aspects of the startup are specific to you and run with it.


Narrowing your focus and thinking about the human questions to a topic is key. These are issues that you know your company can solve. Consider the queries that your potential customer may have and turn them into content that builds confidence and understanding around your business.


By breaking down any potential blockages in the sales funnel, customers will feel informed and willing to hand over their money.


So, it’s time to be proactive rather than reactive. Figure out what questions your customers might have and get to them first. Write content that has longer keywords and a narrow focus. You’ll be competing with the big boys in no time.


Looking to start right now? You’re in luck. Here’s out 4 point system to improve your seo today.