Search & Social: How to Lick Your Blogging Competition & Other Sweet Tips

So you blog for your company, clients, and yourself? How would you like to receive more traffic every time you write for your clients from social media, but also search engines? How would you like ongoing traffic like a content stock portfolio that grows every year? You might say, “Sure, doesn’t everybody?”

In this post I’m going to spill the beans on how to seriously beat your blogging competition by brushing up on your SEO skills. This really is the magic sauce, and if you follow along you will rank higher, receive more traffic, and produce better results for your clients.

In December, I covered Search & Social 101 in what began as a series on how search and social work together. I still plan on covering Search & Social 201, but instead of theory and definitions I want to share with you a few little-known SEO secrets to the social world.

In this post I cover who are your REAL competitors in the blogging world, how you should evaluate outranking them, and a couple of stealth tactics that help you rank well every time.

To start, before you can beat them, you have to know your competition. Often, I’ll run into bloggers or website owners who feel their competitors are [INSERT BIGGEST BLOGS IN HIS/HER NICHE HERE].

This simply isn’t true for more reasons than one.

Did you know for every keyword phrase, there is a different competition level? What does that mean for you? That means you have the chance of ranking high and receiving your lion’s share of traffic for every post you write, if you pick your topics strategically. Every post you write becomes an entity in and of itself and you can win on certain keyword phrases with just one post, even if you’re up against some of the largest, most well-known blogs.


What Do I Mean by Competition?

I define competition the way Google defines it, other “results” for your keyword phrase. You can check competition for any keyword by searching for your target phrase on Google and looking at the number in the upper right hand corner: “Results 1 -10 of about #,###,###.” This is your number, whether these website publishers are consciously competing for the phrase or not. This may seem a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. When racing to the top, analyze the top ten results for your keyword phrase, those are the competitors in your heat, so to speak. The key is targeting phrases with a high amount of searches and relatively low competition level. Use these free keyword selection tools, which not only give you demand, but suggest related keywords as well.

1. Wordtracker

2. SEO Book’s Keyword Selection Tool (requires login)

3. AdWords Traffic Estimator

4. Google Trends

Then after you’ve picked a handful of potential targets, go to Google and manually type them in to see what the competition is like.

When I’ve found a phrase that gets searched hundreds of times a day, and the competition is less than one million results, I get excited, because I know I’ll have a better chance of ranking higher quickly and easily for a target phrase I’ve chosen for the post, which leads to traffic. The other key is, you must find a phrase that is at least four words long.


How Keyword Effectiveness Index Helps You Rank

Some call the ratio of high traffic to low competition “Keyword Effectiveness Index,” or simply KEI. Since I’ve been doing this awhile, most of the time I’ll just eyeball this figure. There is a more complicated formula that Wordtracker uses (one of the free and also paid research tools). You can use this tool to rank your target keyword list in order of best KEI. It includes some more fancy variables than just other website results such as the actual phrase being in the other website’s meta titles or not (shows intent to rank).

In general, take your niche and find topics which you can nicely and naturally fit your keywords into a headline. Make your target a four to seven word phrase. Use keyword demand research to know what phrases are worth your time. Make sure there are at least a few hundred searches a day. Check your competition level for that target phrase. If it’s less than 100,000 you’re in major luck, if not, keep searching for article topics with a better and/or quicker pay-off.


How to Outrank Your Competitors With Killer Content

Put yourself in the user’s shoes, imagine going to Google or one of the other major search engines, and typing in a query. Type in the keyword target phrase for a post you have recently written and see what pops up. You want to make sure what you’re putting out is worthy of ranking well and is better than what you see that’s already there above all others. You can do this by offering as much unbiased, thorough, well-researched, and well-rounded information as possible. How do you think Wikipedia and win every time?

The more backlinks, or incoming links, you have coming to your blog, the less you have to worry about competition for any piece of content you put out. We’ll cover inbound links and how to obtain them in the future.

As your blog grows in authority, you’ll be able to take on more highly competitive keywords, but in the beginning it could feel like throwing a rock in the ocean if you are aiming too high. Start by skipping a rock across a pond, get some results, and then you’ll be more motivated down the road to take on the heavy hitter phrases.

Neil Lemons is an independent Search & Social Consultant at To learn more about traffic and audience-building subscribe to his free blogging course.

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