So you have an SEO client in a field that you may have to concede the top spots? What is the new game plan? Sometimes you get a client that shares a name, shares a city name with other cities or shares a keyword that is sure to run into some kind of competition that can’t be helped.
An example would be travel sites, restaurant sites or tourism blogs. If you have a travel site you can be sure you will see tripadvisor, airlines, car rental sites and other authority strength sites clogging up page one. If you have a restaurant related website you don’t just compete with other people selling “Italian food” but also with review websites, city directories and local newspapers.
Sometime you just have to concede you are up against “search competition” that isn’t really your “business competition”. If you are doing SEO for a Charlotte upscale restaurant and they/you covet the term “Charlotte fine dining”, you will find about.com, the Observer, Citysearch and Opentable.com all occupying the first page. So what do you tell your client when the top 8-10 spots are almost insurmountable?
1. Set the long term goal that nothing is insurmountable. Use other steps to attract customers in the short term but don’t take your eye off the prize. There is almost nothing that can’t be ranked for if you put in the time, content and persistence. Even if you do spend a year and not outrank this kind of monster authority site you will still find that your efforts won you hundreds of other related and long tail searches. If you build the content, links and site structure right even “second place” has a lot of traffic to offer, so why not try in this win-win scenario.
2. Local search is the solution to this. The thinking behind the concept of local search is a way to keep “Fine dining” restaurants in Chicago from competing with restaurants in Charlotte. Submit to Google local / G+, Yahoo and Bing local, Yelp, Manta, Superpages and about 60 other places to help challenge for your term. Many of these are authority top juicy domains themselves and can be a fast way to a slot in the 8-20 range for your keyword The local solution also gets you page one ranking for local searches in the featured spot on Google’s Page 1. Local means both “places” as well as directory sites. This is a fast way to get top rankings as well as a good step in the right direction of Defensive SEO or saturation SEO. Winning with quantity of pages referencing your business is another way to skin this cat.
3. Third, you can change keywords and niche your approach a little bit. If your restaurant near Northlake Mall? Getting more specific is a start. “Fine dining Northlake” “Fine Dining North lake Mall” and similar searches may not feel as good but get 40 searches per month and being on page 1 is better than 500 searches and being on page 3.
4. Hijack some space on the big boys. Monitor your trip advisor, opentable and citysearch pages. Make sure customers leave good reviews and respond to them with updates and specials. If you can’t beat them (yet) join them. This is how SEO has become inbound marketing. The internet has reached the point that the fight for #1 is often not worth the effort. Often times the sites you are trying to beat out have a spot you can “pirate” some of their traffic.
5. Connected to item #2 above is you need to saturate. I have heard it said that you should blog every day for one year and there is no SEO mountain you can’t climb. I think this is a great advice but why limit yourself to all efforts on one domain. I would recommend people to blog ever three days with every post revolving around a common long tail search. This doesn’t always have to be the title it just should be worked into the writing. On our above example you could perhaps write about “name of a good Italian restaurant near Northlake Mall”….. “XXXXX is a great Italian restaurant right by Northlake…”. On the next post 3 days later well do “Asian Restaurant” or “…a great new restaurant by Northlake”. If you are doing this every three days we can use the other two days to build web 2.0 properties instead. Go open that webs.com account, blogger account or Weebly page and put your posts there on other days. In this approach we are pushing 5-10 pages up that we control and not just one. We are also developing 5-10 different C class IP’s we can link with.
Every site with a difficult or overlapping niche is a different approach but the concept is the same. Why would you start a journey pushing a 500lb boulder up a hill when you can smash it into 20lb pieces and walk each one up a little at a time.