How To Outrank Your Competitors In Google Search

Outrank your competitors with the exact strategies we’ve used to rank our clients above sites like Samsung, Amazon, and even Wikipedia!

It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked by businesses:

How do I outrank my competitors in Google?

The answer is…

…well, it’s complicated.

We know that’s not the answer you were hoping for, which is why today we’re sharing the exact strategies we use to help our clients outrank their closest competitors.

These proven strategies include:

  • Going toe-to-toe with your competitor’s branded terms.
  • Finding terms your competitor isn’t targeting and using them to your advantage.
  • Turning your competitor’s rankings into hundreds of link building opportunities.

Let’s get started.

(Just here to build links? Click here to jump to the step-by-step guide.)

Table of Contents

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Why Is Outranking The Competition So Important?

Let’s answer this question with another:

Do your competitors outrank you in search?

If you said “Yes”, here’s why it makes such a difference:

  • As many as 90% of searchers never make it past Google’s first page.
  • What’s more, a staggering 28.5% of people click on the first result they see…
  • …and the numbers drop sharply from there – just 2.5% for tenth spot!

If your competitors outrank you, they’re taking more of your traffic, leads, and sales.

Before You Begin…

Don’t make outranking your competitors any more difficult than it needs to be! Give yourself a competitive advantage by optimising your site for search with our SEO Optimisation Guide For New Zealand Businesses. It’s free!

How Do I Identify My Competitors?

Your closest competitors are only a search away!

Sure, it may bug you that your competitors are ranking so well in search…

…but in doing so, they’re not exactly difficult to find. This makes it easy to identify who they are, the terms they’re ranking for, and use their high search placement against them to quickly and easily build your site’s authority (more on this later!).

Here’s the easiest way to identify your competitors:

  1. Open Google.
  2. Enter a major keyword related to your product, service, industry, or niche:
    Google search bar for Acukland Accounting Services
  3. Make a note of the top results that appear in search:
    Google search results for Auckland Accounting Services

Wait, so what should I be looking for here?

We already know Google’s first page holds all of the clicks.

So when you’re scouting out the competition, concentrate on this first page.

This is where you’ll find your primary competitors as well as quick-win opportunities that could give you the upper-hand. While browsing these results, you should look for:

Big name brands & websites

Highly searched terms are often highly competitive.

A key indicator of this is the presence of big name brands, businesses, and websites.

You can see this below for ‘Accounting Software‘:

Google search results for Accounting SoftwareWe’re not saying it’s impossible to outperform these big name brands and sites…

…just know that they will be harder to beat.

Low quality competitors

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

And the same goes for your competitors!

Look beyond the search results page and examine these sites in more detail for:

Sometimes you’ll find that potential competitors are only partially related to your business. They could even be of a lower quality, which makes them easier to outrank!

Before You Continue…

Jot down any common names you see in your searches. Competitors will vary depending on the keyword you enter, but you’re likely to find a few that we will use to find hundreds of link building opportunities later in this guide!

How Do I Know What Keywords My Competitors Are Using?

Finding all of your competitor’s keywords can be tricky.

The easiest way to do this is to manually search for terms you think relate to your – and their – business, but it isn’t the fastest way, either. You’re also likely to miss lucrative terms your competitor may be targeting that you don’t even know about.

Thankfully, there are a number of free and paid tools that make the process easy.

We’ve explored some of the most popular options below:

SpyFu
  1. Open SpyFu.
  2. Enter the URL of a competitor into the search bar and hit Enter:
    Spyfu search bar
  3. Click on “SEO Research” and then “SEO Keywords” in the top menu:
    SpyFu menu
  4. SpyFu will show you a list of your competitor’s terms, including their placement:
    SpyFu keyword list
  5. The site only displays the first five results – you’ll need to sign up to see the rest.
Neil Patel
  1. Open Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest.
  2. Enter the URL of a competitor into the search bar and hit Enter:
    Neil Patel search bar
  3. Ubersuggest will show you a list of your competitor’s terms and their placement:
    Neil Patel keyword placements
  4. The site displays the first twenty results – you’ll need to sign up to see the rest.
Ahrefs
  1. Open Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
    • Note: You will need to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial account. We’ll be using Ahrefs again later, so it’s worth a go!
  2. Enter the URL of a competitor into the search bar and hit Enter:
    Ahrefs site explorer
  3. Click on “Organic Search” and then “Organic Keywords” in the menu on the left:
    Ahrefs organic keywords
  4. Ahrefs will display a list of the keywords the site is ranking for including monthly search volume, position, and the URL of the page that is ranking for the term:
    Ahrefs results
SEM Rush
  1. Open SEM Rush.
  2. Enter a competitor’s URL into the search bar, select your country, and hit Enter:
    SEM Rush search bar
  3. SEM Rush will ask you to create an account or log in to an existing one. It’s free!
  4. Click on “Organic Research” in the menu on the left:
    SEM Rush Organic Research
  5. The site will display a range of organic search information, including the site’s top 7 organic keywords. Click on “View all X organic keywords” to view more – you’ll need to sign up for a paid account to see all of them:
    SEM Rush all organic keywords
SE Ranking
  1. Open SE Ranking’s Competitor Analysis Tools.
  2. Enter the URL of a competitor, select your country, and click Analyze:
    SE Ranking search bar
  3. Scroll down to the “Organic Keywords” section and click on “View Detailed Report“:
    SE Ranking detailed report
  4. SE Ranking will display a list of the keywords the site is ranking for including the terms, position, and monthly search traffic:
    SE Ranking keyword list
  5. The site displays the first ten results – you’ll need to sign up to see the rest.

3 Proven Ways To Rank Above The Competition In Google Search

1Fight them on their own (branded) terms

So, here’s a question for you:

When’s the last time you ordered pizza online?

We swear, this question is relevant! You’ll see how shortly…

…but for now, let’s take a look at what happens when you search for Pizza Hut:

Pizza hut search results

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.

Do you see it? Ok, so it’s not hard to miss…we did highlight it for you.

One of the first results isn’t for Pizza Hut at all, but rather competitor Domino’s.

This isn’t a one-off. In fact, it’s repeated across a variety of terms in a number of industries. From “vs” terms like “Oral B vs Philips Sonicare”:

Oral-B vs philips sonicare search resultsThrough to “or” terms like “Samsung or Apple”:

Samsung vs apple iphone search resultsSo, why is this happening?

More than that, how can you leverage this for your business?

Why brand terms are a great source of traffic

Competitor terms are, well, competitive…

…they’re also a proven source of traffic which makes them a juicy search target.

How so? Let’s wrap back ‘round to our first example:

Here’s how many people search for “order pizza online” in New Zealand every month:

Search volume for 'order pizza online'Now here’s the results for “pizza hut”:

Search volume for 'pizza hut'The difference between the two is pretty staggering!

To be fair, this big a difference in search volume may not carry over to your own terms – we doubt 206,000 people are searching for a local dentist, for example! – but the ‘takeaway’ here is the same:

Branded terms are often worth ranking well for.

Let’s find out how…

How can I capture more of my competitor’s branded customers?

It’s time!

We’re going to turn you into the Domino’s of your niche.

Which is to say, we’re going to help you target your competitor’s terms via Google Ads.

Domino’s is unique in that it doesn’t rely on long-form content or landing pages. Instead, it simply pays – likely a fair bit! – to appear in Google Search whenever someone in New Zealand searches for Pizza Hut.

Doing the same thing with your competitors and their terms is relatively easy.

Check out Google’s own ‘Your guide to Google Ads to get started.

Keep these things in mind when setting up your Ads campaign

Understand who you are talking to (and use this to your advantage)

Branded traffic is different to regular traffic.

Someone searching for a competitor already knows what they want.

This is your opportunity to tell them why your business is better! It’s like convincing someone to pick Domino’s over Pizza Hut, rather than choosing Pizza over a Burger.

Deliver an effective sales pitch in seconds

Don’t waste any time – or characters – getting to the point.

You know what they’re looking for, so use your Ad to highlight your unique value proposition such as 24/7 Customer Service, Free Shipping, or a X% Saving.

Take another look at Domino’s Ad and you’ll see how they do this so well:

Dominos pricing offers within google ads

Price is often the deciding factor for consumers, so highlight your great deal if you’ve got it!

Avoid the use of trademarked terms

Google reserves the right to remove an Ad that is in breach of trademark laws…

…so err on the side of caution and avoid using your competitor’s name.

Not only does it look tacky, but it may get you in trouble!

Instead of pulling down competitors like this hypothetical Ad:

A made-up Domino's google adYou want to build yourself up, like this:

Dominos selling points google ads

Use Ad extensions to say more in less time

Google Ad Extensions offer a variety of ways to enhance your Ad.

Better yet, they’re free! Sitelink Extensions allow you to link to additional pages, Callout Extensions let you include additional information like “Free Delivery!“, and Review Extensions allow you to highlight your star rating.

Domninos google ad extensions

This Domino’s Ad uses a Sitelink Extension to guide users to its most important pages.

Convert more of your clicks with a specialised landing page

Domino’s doesn’t direct visitors to a dedicated page, but…

…it doesn’t really need to. It’s Domino’s!

You won’t have quite the same luxury. If you’re serious about converting people who click on your Ad, send them to a specialised landing page that’s tailored to what they’re searching for.

This brings us nicely to…

2. Create ‘VS’ content for long-term search success

So, you’ve gotten their interest…

…now it’s time to talk directly to their interests with a specialised landing page.

Remember, you already know what they’re searching for, so it’s going to be that much easier to design a high-converting page that tells them why you’re the better choice.

The “Oral-B vs Philips Sonicare” search we highlighted earlier is a great example of this:

Oral-B vs Philips Sonicare landing pageOral-B’s Landing Page wastes no time getting to the point…

…in fact, before you scroll down the page it’s grabbed your attention with:

  • A relevant heading – “Oral-B Crossaction Series VS. Philips Sonicare”.
  • A bold claim – “Proven To Clean Better Than Philips Sonicare Diamondclean”.

They’re not selling you on just any electric toothbrush…

…they’re selling you on their electric toothbrush.

We’re willing to bet the conversion rate reflects this fact, too!

Keep these things in mind when setting up your landing page

Tap into the right audience with Keyword Research

Carrying out Keyword Research before you start writing is the perfect way to land on a relevant topic for your Pillar Page and ensure it’s optimised effectively.

What do I mean by this?

Let’s say a business runs an online storage service similar to Dropbox or Drive.

A search of competitor terms in KeywordTool.io turns up a bunch of Keywords:

Competitor content keywordsThrowing these into KWFinder we see a number of these have search volume:

Competitor content keyword search volumeYeah, we know what you’re thinking…

…this hypothetical business isn’t Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.

That’s the thing, they don’t need to be! By using Google Ads to drive traffic to a Landing Page that targets these ‘VS’ competitor terms, this business could provide information people are searching for while introducing their own solution.

Lead with your major selling point

Is your product cheaper? Is your service better? Is your selection wider?

People who arrive at your landing page via Google Ads are looking to be convinced, converted, and sold to, so give them your one-line sales pitch as quickly as possible.

Keep it short, simple, and to-the-point

Attention spans are short. Very short.

You have seconds to convince someone who arrives at your page to stick around.

Remember, you know exactly why your audience is here, so skip the setup and get straight to the point. Stick to short, sharp sentences and save the paragraphs for your Blog Posts!

Add visual interest to keep their attention

Oral-B’s Landing Page highlights how a visual page can hold your attention.

Its clean layout and strong use of fonts and imagery make an impact and encourage you to keep scrolling. A wall of text? No thanks! Deliver a bold, bespoke landing page and your visitors will remember you.

Add sources and back up your claims

Everyone loves facts and figures.

Well, everyone on the internet, that is!

It’s been proven that well-sourced stats, facts, and figures help to build trust and convert a skeptical audience. It also keeps you from getting in trouble for false advertising our outlandish claims.

Include a compelling Call-To-Action

Landing Pages are designed to convert more customers…

…but they can’t do that without a Call-To-Action.

Whether it’s a “Buy Now!” button or an enquiry form, you need to tell your audience what to do next. If you leave them to their own devices, they’re more likely to just hit ‘Back’ on their browser.

How Do We Know This Works?…

…because we used it for one of our clients!

When this client came to us, they were locked in battle with a competitor.

The solution? Fighting them on their own (branded) terms! By creating a dedicated ‘VS’ landing page – as well as a Blog Post – we were able to tap into the competitor’s traffic. The result?

Thousands of visitors & tens of thousands of dollars of additional sales:

Client's google ads content conversionsIn fact, these two pages are the site’s third and fourth highest converting pages right behind the Home Page and Product Page. The site also regularly outranks its major competitor for its own brand name.

This is just one example of what’s possible when you target competitor terms.

What if I told you…

…there’s a silver lining to every competitor that ranks above you?

It’s true! Competitors who outrank you in search are usually there because:

  • Sometimes it’s that they have better content.
  • Other times, it’s that they have a better product or service.
  • More often than not, it’s that they have more – and higher quality – backlinks.

They’ve obviously put in the hard work to land these links.

Now it’s your turn to make the most of them and boost your search rankings.

Competitors are your #1 source of link building opportunities.

It’s true! You can easily turn their backlinks into your backlinks.

So, how do you do this? Welcome to a strategy known as Link Intersect.

Link Intersect lets you use your competitors’ rankings to your advantage by looking at all of the linking opportunities they use that you don’t. It’s one of the quickest, easiest ways to build your site’s authority and improve its search rankings.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Refer to the list of competitors you wrote down earlier in this guide.
  2. Next, open AHREFs’ Link Intersect Tool.
    • Note: You’ll need to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial account. We used Ahrefs earlier, so you should still have access to this tool! Otherwise, you will require a subscription.
  3. Paste your Competitor’s URL into the first text box beneath ‘Show me who is linking to these domains or URLs‘.
    Link intersect competitor URLs
  4. Paste your site’s URL into the first text box beneath ‘But doesn’t link to (optional)‘ and then click on ‘Show link opportunities‘:
    Link intersect show opportunities
  5. AHREFs will return a list of opportunities your competitor is using that you aren’t:
    Link intersect competitor opportunities
Sort through and identify quality opportunities

Now it’s time to sort through the list and find the hidden gems for your site:

  1. Starting from the top of the list, click on the number in the fifth column from the left. This column is usually headed by the Competitor site’s URL:
    Number of competitor links
  2. This will display all of the pages on the site that currently link to your competitor:
    Link intersect opportunities
  3. Click on each of the links listed on the left-hand side, beneath ‘Referring page‘. This will take you to the pages on this site that currently link to your competitor:
    Individual link intersect opportunities
  4. Examine the pages that link to your competitor, and the site itself as a whole.
    • In this example, here is the section that links to the competitor:
      Link intersect on-page opportunity
    • Taking a look at the site as a whole, it looks like this is Xero’s New Zealand website linking out to winners of their local awards:
      Xero awards new zealand
  5. When examining each site like this, you need to decide:
    • If the site is relevant (i.e. could it realistically be used for a link?). For example:
      • Is it a business directory that you could list your business with?
      • Is it a site within your niche that you could also Guest Post with?
      • Is it a forum within your niche that you could also post in?
      • Is it a PR, sponsorship, or partnership – such as the example above – that you might also be able to pursue?
      • And so on and so forth!
    • If the site is of a high enough quality (i.e. is it a spam site?).
      • The site’s DR is above 15.
      • Does not include spam.
    • As an example, the above opportunity might fit. You’d just need to be lucky enough to win against your competitors in Xero’s local awards! That said, there are far more opportunities than just this one in the link intersect list.
  6. Do this for each of the sites in the list that match the requirements above.
  7. Make a list of the relevant opportunities, and then start building links!

Business Directories & Citations

Think of Business Directories like the Yellow Pages, only online (and far less heavy!).

They’re a fast, effective way to improve your online presence.

The trouble? Finding ones that are worth your time. Link Intersect is a great way to dig up quality, niche listing opportunities you may not have found otherwise.

Before You Begin Listing Your Business…

…maximise the value of every directory with our Complete List Of All New Zealand Business Directories. It includes answers to your questions, step-by-step guides, and every single online directory in New Zealand.

Social Bookmarks

Social bookmarking sites are organisers for your bookmarks.

They let you manage your bookmarks, sort them into categories, and even share links with others. It’s this last part that we’re interested in!

Simply sign up, share a few links, and you’re set.

Social Bookmarks Are Easy To Use…

…which is why they have been spammed to death over the last few years. It’s no surprise that you need to tread carefully when it comes to using them yourself! They shouldn’t be a cornerstone of your link acquisition strategy but, rather, a sprinkling of variation over your existing backlinks.

Guest Posts

One of the best ways to improve your site’s authority is through Guest Posting.

Finding sites that accept Guest Posts, however…well, it’s tricky. Link Intersect gives you a headstart. How so? If a site has accepted a post from your competitor, chances are they’ll accept one from you as well.

Get The Most Out Of Your Guest Posts…

with our free guide! It includes everything you need to know about Guest Posting, from making the initial contact, to pitching the perfect topic, all the way through to getting your post published.

Forums

Social media is where we go to discuss anything and everything these days…

…but niche forums still exist. In fact, they’re thriving!

They’re also a great place to land a relevant link. The aim is to leave a helpful comment or ask useful questions, all while finding a natural way to link to your site.

Whether a page has changed, moved, or been removed, broken links are inevitable.

Fixing the odd broken link is easy, but once a site is big enough?…

…They start to slip through the cracks. Your competitor’s lack of time is your opportunity. By reaching out to sites that have broken links to your competitors, you can suggest your site as a replacement.

This is a super effective way to build backlinks from proven, quality sites.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open AHREFs’ Site Explorer.
  2. Paste a competitor’s URL into the text box and hit enter:
    AHREFs site explorer
  3. Click on ‘Broken’ beneath the Backlinks section of the left-side menu:
    AHREFs broken backlinks menu option
  4. AHREFs will return a list of all of the external links to the site that are broken:
    AHREFs broken backlink list
  5. Sort through the list of broken links in the same way you did the Link Intersect opportunities earlier, looking for links within Blog Posts, Articles, Resource Lists, and other similar pages:
    A broken link to Philips
  6. Reach out to each site that includes a broken link using the first template below. If you receive a reply, follow up with your pitch using the follow-up template!
First Email

Title
I found a broken link on [SITE NAME]

Message
Hi [CONTACT NAME],

Just a quick email to let you know I found a broken link on [SITE URL].

Do you still update older posts? Let me know and I can send through the page!

Thanks.

Follow-Up Email

Title
Re: I found a broken link on [SITE NAME]

Message
Hi [CONTACT NAME],

Thanks for the reply!

I found the broken link here: [URL THAT CONTAINS THE BROKEN LINK].

It looks like it links to a page on [COMPETITOR SITE NAME]?

We’ve recently [YOUR PITCH], which I thought might make a quick and easy replacement if you’re updating!

Thanks again.

Outranking your competitors is possible

With the right strategy you can turn your competitor’s high search rankings into your best opportunity! If you want more ways to support your site check out our guides or request a strategy session and learn how Found can help you outrank your competitors and maximise your traffic, leads, and sales in the process.