Trying to rank on the first search engine results page (SERP) can feel like a gamble. In fact, you probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than having your site rank for some of the most competitive search terms (not to discourage you or anything).
Fortunately, you don’t need to rank your site to boost your organic traffic. If your website finds itself in a highly competitive niche, there are workaround solutions you can use to accelerate your web traffic growth without paying a dime on pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
1. Offer guest posts.
Let’s say your original intention was to rank for the search term “SEO agency” on Google. There are over 140 million search results for this term, so the odds are stacked against you if you want to rank for this keyword.
Instead of tackling the issue from a purely on-page SEO perspective, consider generating leads by guest posting on authoritative sites in your company’s niche. For instance, the first SERP for the terms “SEO agency” and “SEO tools” includes sites from domain authorities like Moz, Ahrefs, Backlinko and Hubspot.
You can piggyback off the authority of high-ranking domains by offering to write pro bono guest posts. Just be sure to create polished content that provides value to the reader and is ultimately worth their time. It needs to be shareable and hold the potential for virality.For guest posting to be a viable part of your content strategy, you need to link to the webpage you’re trying to increase the visibility of. If the guest post ranks, you can benefit from free visibility, leads and potential conversions in perpetuity.
2. Capitalize on event-driven market shifts.
Humans are naturally opportune searchers. When an unexpected event or change occurs, we pull out our phones and search for the best solution or alternative.
Take, for instance, the ongoing “retail apocalypse,” in which thousands of brick-and-mortar stores have permanently shut their doors in the last year alone. Toy retailer Toys R Us closed all of its U.S. stores in 2018, prompting many shoppers to search for “toy stores” and “Toys R Us replacements” to find alternative vendors for toys.
If you operate an e-commerce store specializing in children’s toys and board games, their loss is your gain. Toys R Us filing for bankruptcy and closing their stores should be seen as a potential gold mine for drawing new traffic to your site.
To capitalize on the opportunity, there are two approaches you can take.
First, you could try to rank for “Toys R Us replacement,” which should have a lower keyword difficulty score and a higher-than-usual search volume. Alternatively, you could reach out to an authority site and pitch your site or product to its authors to review in a roundup article -- this is our recommended solution since readers will likely trust a recommendation from an authoritative source.
3. Invest in video marketing.
This one is for all e-commerce retailers out there. Let’s say you’re in the business of selling hair care products for men, including your own private label of shampoo and conditioner, as well as other brands. Unfortunately, there’s a ton of search volume for men’s hair products, and many of the key search terms have exceedingly high keyword difficulty (KD) scores.
Luckily, there’s a relatively simple solution to get noticed on the first SERP without ranking for high-KD search terms. The trick is to create video content for your store’s YouTube channel.
Start by reviewing your products and including links to shop for them in your store. Then, contact an influencer with high engagement levels on YouTube and offer to pay them to review your products and to drop a link to your e-commerce store. Not only can this draw organic traffic to your store, but it can also help bolster your search rankings.
4. Know that content is (still) king.
Despite the naysayers and skeptics, there’s nothing that will improve the visibility of your site like consistently producing high-quality content. Black hat SEO techniques aren’t going to draw viewers to your site more than once or twice, and sooner or later, Google and other search engine operators are going to catch on to your tricks and penalize your site.
Leave the shady tactics for your competitors. Instead, take the high road and put in the effort to make quality content your readers want to share with their friends and colleagues.
When you produce useful content for your niche audience, Google recognizes it. When your readers spend time on your page without immediately bouncing off, they reward your website with increased visibility. The same goes for when your website is shared on social networks.
The quality and usefulness of your content should still be top of mind when it comes to designing your content marketing strategy. If you get lazy with your content creation, you can kiss any chance of increasing your organic traffic without PPC ads goodbye.
5. Design infographics on niche community sites.
The last step is to create visually appealing infographics with useful statistical information relevant to those in your niche. If you don’t have the graphic design chops to get the job done, you can hire a freelancer on platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork and provide them with the data and copy to include in the graphic.
Once you’ve created a polished infographic that solves a problem or answers a question relevant to your niche, share it. Host it on your website, and start increasing its visibility by sharing it on your social media as well as community forums in your niche.
Although this is more labor-intensive than other strategies, infographics consistently outperform regular blog posts and text-based webpages.
There's no magic bullet when it comes to SEO success. However, there are concrete, actionable steps you can take to improve your visibility in the long-term. It starts with producing valuable content in written, video and visual formats and sharing them widely with high-authority players in your market niche.