The following is a guest post from Eugene Mekeda of Ahrefs, a company that provides data-driven marketing tools that help businesses improve their online visibility.
I can totally understand why most small-business owners try to avoid SEO tasks at all costs. But if you shy away from search engine optimization, your website will get buried in search results and visitors won't find you. To keep them from rushing to your more visible competitors' sites, you have to get comfortable with SEO.
If you’re just getting started with SEO, the three things you need to know are:
- Quality backlinks to your website make all the difference.
- If you devote enough time to content, it’ll pay you back.
- You need to always know what your competitors are up to in order to outperform them.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools that can help you look at your competitors' marketing efforts. You can see what keywords your rivals rank for, where their audience comes from, and what social networks work best in your niche. You can even find everybody who links to your competitors (you need those links to boost your website's rank, too).
Your website needs great posts, case studies, infographics, and videos. But it happens far more often than website owners care to admit that they publish a piece of content on their website and it gets them nothing. No clicks, no retweets, no backlinks and, as a result, no search engine love.
Here are three browser toolbars that help make each new piece of content a hit.
Buzzsumo offers a browser add-on that can help you figure out how much traction a topic or a page is getting on social media. To use it, you need to be a registered BuzzSumo user, but it's worth it.
You can check the number of engagements in each particular social media platform to see if the topic is as popular among your audience as you think. And if you need help figuring out who your target audience is, get insight from BuzzSumo.
To do that, click on View Shares. Voila, those are the people that retweeted the post of your competitor. See where they work, what they like, how they talk, and create content that speaks to them.
But most importantly, use BuzzSumo to look for tendencies on social media. Search the most generic keyword your website aims to rank for and see what heading and types of content perform best on social media.
You can't create viral content on purpose, but it's only reasonable to do some research to increase your chances.
2. Similar Web
Whenever I need a rough traffic estimate for any given website, I go to Similar Web. This browser add-on does an amazing job with the data it collects all over the world.
You can see how much approximate traffic your competitors get, the sources for that traffic, the social media platforms that work best for them, and the geographic locations that provide the most traffic.
Without a doubt, Similar Web is a worthy asset for your online marketing efforts.
3. Ahrefs SEO Toolbar
Backlinks are the pipes that transport SEO juice around the web. You can have tons of retweets and shares, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot to Google. If there are no backlinks pointing to your website, the chances to rank for any competitive keyword are close to zero.
But guess what? Your competitors already have backlinks. And if you create better content than what they have, you can try to claim their backlinks for yourself.
Once you’ve registered with Ahrefs and installed Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, Google the keyword you’d like to rank for. Under each search result, you’ll see a bar with the metrics of a website.
The most important ones are the Domain Rating, URL Rating, and Backlink Count.
Compare these numbers with those of your website to see if you will be able to outrank competition with your content.
And even if you see that the competition for you main keyword is way out of your league, that’s no reason to despair. You can use your competitor's domain rating and backlink count as a benchmark and a resource to build up your own profile.
Here’s how it’d work:
You find the keyword you want to rank for. You find the top five competing pages and make content better than any of them have. Once that's done, you get to the fun part: link building.
Open each competing page in your browser and click on BL (backlinks) in Ahrefs SEO Toolbar.
It will display all the pages that link to the domain you're on. You get in touch with people who linked to the pages that currently rank high for your keyword and convince them to link to you instead.
As an alternative, you can guest post for the relevant websites that never linked to you, look for broken links that could be replaced with a link to your content, or find unlinked mentions of the topic.
Unfortunately, not everything in SEO can be done by a toolbar. Earning links to your site takes a lot of sweat. But with the right tools and enough effort, the results can be off the charts.
About the Author
Eugene Mekeda is a marketer at Ahrefs.com. He used to work in advertising, tech support, and journalism but found himself in marketing and copywriting.