It's infuriating when, despite your best efforts at online marketing, your closest competitor's website consistently ranks higher than yours in the search engine results pages (SERPs). What's more, as most business owners know that the better a website performs in the SERPs, the more traffic it's likely to get, it's a dilemma that prompts many people to turn to us for help. So, let's consider the matter in more depth.
Unfortunately, there's unlikely to be a simple answer to this, as search engines take a host of factors into account when determining website rankings. They are also, understandably, secretive about how their algorithms work. However, we do know that they consider things such as:
- The authority and history of each domain – new websites are unlikely to rank well initially, for example, while another site could rank poorly if that domain was previously owned by spammers. Additionally, domain names should be relevant and fairly short.
- On-page aspects – if factors such as your website's URL structure, title tags, image alt text, and internal links aren't optimal, it will affect its position in the Google search results.
- The way that visitors to each website behave – if visitors frequently leave your website shortly after clicking through to it, for example, Google will assume that your site doesn't contain the content that people are looking for.
- The quality and quantity of the content on each site – in order to perform well in Google, your content needs to be original, relevant, informative, authoritative and regularly updated. Essentially, it needs to meet your website visitors' needs.
- The links to and from a site – if Google's search engine spiders discover that your website has strong relationships with other high-quality, authoritative websites, your site will perform better.
- Social media signals – while Google states that a company's social media performance doesn't directly affect its website's ranking, research has shown that there's a clear correlation between these things.
How Can You Improve Your Position?
Search engine optimisation isn't an exact science, and it takes time and effort to gain and maintain high rankings on Google.
In the short term, you could compare the content on your website to the content on your competitor's site to see if there are any obvious differences. For example, do they include features that you don't, such as lots of video content, thoughtfully written pieces, customer testimonials or a quote generator? Do they cover more topics than you or seem to be targeting keywords and phrases that you have missed? If so, it may be worth adding appropriate content to your site. You could also examine their backlinks and see whether it's possible for you to gain links from the same or similar sites.
In the long term, however, your best course of action is to develop and implement an inbound marketing plan which incorporates everything from content creation and social media activity to onsite SEO. If you don't have the capability to do this in-house, a specialist agency, like the JDR Group, can help. We can conduct a thorough audit of your website to establish whether any aspects of it need to be improved and help you to plan and deliver a cost-effective strategy.
Image source: Pixabay