How to Outrank Your Competition’s Best-Performing Page

All is fair in love and SEO.

Ranking for a profitable keyword phrase can quickly become a dog fight, and the SEO battle between two rivals can get heated and ugly in a hurry.

Okay, maybe that’s overly dramatic, but you get the idea.

When you’re battling for search ranking supremacy, it can get dirty, and nothing is off limits.

You need to devise a winning strategy to not only outrank the competition but maintain your position.

One technique I’ve found to be incredibly effective for gaining the upper hand in the SEO battle is to identify your competition’s best-performing page and outrank it.

If they’re bringing in a large volume of leads ultimately resulting in conversions, you know you’ll be in good shape if you can usurp them.

HubSpot even found that “search traffic has the highest lead-to-customer conversion rate of all channels.”

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Dominate the search results, and reap the rewards.

But how exactly do you do this?

Here’s a step-by-step formula I’ve come up with.

1. Get their SEO stats

The first thing you’ll want to do is learn as much as possible about your competitor’s best-performing page.

For instance, you’ll want to find out:

  1. Where their backlinks are coming from
  2. The types of content they’re publishing
  3. Nofollow and dofollow links
  4. Titles
  5. H1, H2, and H3 tags
  6. Hyperlink anchors

How do you obtain this information?

I suggest using an SEO analysis tool such as Rank Tracker by SEO PowerSuite or Ahrefs.

You simply type in a site domain, and these tools will generate a wealth of helpful data you can use to thoroughly analyze the competition.

More specifically, they will provide answers to the first three factors I mentioned above: backlinks, types of content, and links.

Download this quick how to guide to outrank your competition’s best-performing page.

As for the last three factors—titles, tags, and hyperlink anchors—check out their best-performing page to find this information directly.

2. Check for technical issues

Another thing I like about SEO PowerSuite is that they have a tool called “WebSite Auditor.”

This lets you quickly analyze any technical issues a particular page may have such as indexing or crawlability problems, coding glitches, and overall site structure.

Why is this important?

If you know for a fact there’s an obvious technical SEO issue and use this knowledge to your advantage, you stand a very good chance of outranking your competitor.

In other words, you’ll know what their weakness is. By ensuring that your site is free of these errors, you are giving yourself a good chance of eclipsing your competition in the search rankings.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

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Notice that this site has issues with crawlability and is lacking an XML sitemap.

After analyzing your competitor’s SEO stats and technical issues, you should have a pretty clear idea of what you’re up against.

More importantly, you’ll know precisely what you need to do in order to outrank them.

3. Do what your competition is doing—but better

I’ve talked about a concept known as the skyscraper technique before.

This is a term coined by Brian Dean from Backlinko. The technique is designed to dramatically boost your search traffic.

At its base level, this technique revolves around pinpointing a piece of link-worthy content a competitor has created, improving upon it, and connecting with influencers to promote it.

To take advantage of the skyscraper technique, you’ll first need to examine your competitor’s top backlinks.

Ask yourself which pieces of content appear to be having the biggest impact on their rankings.

Once it’s clear which specific pieces of content are boosting their SEO, you’ll want to create content that’s even better.

But how exactly do you go about this?

Next are a few techniques to help you achieve that goal.

4. Create more in-depth content

As you probably already know, I’m a proponent of long content.

Numerous studies have shown that content with a higher word count consistently outperforms content with a lower word count.

Here’s a graph that illustrates this perfectly:

image04

As you can see, the average word count for the number one spot in search rankings is 2,416.

Notice that it’s not 500, 750, or even 1,000 words. In order for content to rank highly, it needs to be well over 2,000 words.

Furthermore, you’re more likely to get more social shares by going this route:

image02

This graph clearly shows that content exceeding 1,500 words is far more likely to result in a higher number of social shares, especially on Twitter.

If the bulk of your competitor’s content is much shorter, simply creating longer, more in-depth content can put you well on your way to outranking them.

If you can create something epic on a particular topic, blowing competition’s mediocre content out of the water, this is definitely going to work to your advantage.

Just make sure you’re genuinely adding value and not merely eating up your word count.

5. Be visual-centric

I probably don’t need to tell you about the power of visual content, but I will anyway.

Since humans are inherently visual creatures, we’re more apt to respond to content with plenty of pictures, graphs, charts, etc. than to text-based content.

In fact, “content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without relevant images.”

image06

If your competition is slacking on visuals, this presents a great opportunity for you.

Incorporating plenty of relevant images throughout your content will likely result in more traffic, more engagement, more shares, and, ultimately, a higher ranking within search results.

I also suggest experimenting with infographics.

This type of media has proven to be tremendously powerful and can optimize the user experience.

image01

If your competition is limiting itself to more traditional and, quite frankly, boring text-based content, presenting information through an infographic can most definitely give you an edge.

For more on how to create infographics, I recommend checking out this list of free infographic tools.

6. Make your content easier to digest

It’s also important to understand how the modern person reads digital content.

Hardly anyone reads an article in its entirety. They simply scan and check out a few key points that appeal most to them.

In order for your content to truly resonate, it needs to be scannable and snackable.

If you’re taking an old school approach, your content is likely to miss its mark.

But if it’s easily digestible, your content will have a maximum impact and could very well outperform your competition’s content.

Here are a few fundamental techniques for creating content with the modern reader in mind:

  • Use short paragraphs
  • Use plenty of H1, H2, and H3 headers
  • Use bullets to create lists

7. Outperform competitor from a technical standpoint

Remember when I talked about identifying technical issues on your competitor’s website?

The final step to this process is making sure that your website doesn’t have the same issues and glitches.

For example, maybe your competitor’s site is lacking an XML sitemap.

This is problematic because it makes it more difficult for search engine bots to crawl their site.

Simply taking the time to create an XML sitemap for your website will give you an advantage.

Just identify any technical issues your competitor’s site has, and ensure you’re not making the same mistakes.

Besides this, there are two more ways to outperform the competition.

8. Speed up your site

One is to make your site quicker than their site.

It’s been documented that Google takes into account a site’s load time when determining rankings.

And while it’s not as big of a factor as, say, backlinks, site speed definitely plays a role.

Not to mention that it will directly impact the user experience and the length of time visitors stay on your site.

In fact, a one-second delay can have an adverse impact on pageviews, customer satisfaction, and your overall conversion rate:

image05

Although I don’t have time to discuss all the details here, check out this article I wrote on how to make your site insanely fast.

9. Create content that’s more mobile-friendly than the competition’s

I’m sure you know just how big of a deal it is to be mobile-friendly in this day and age.

If Google’s “mobilegeddon” has taught us anything, it’s that we sure as heck had better be on board.

And if there’s anything less than a stellar user experience from a mobile perspective, we’ll be in trouble.

That’s why my final recommendation for outranking the competition is to make your content more mobile-friendly than theirs.

This all starts with using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test if you haven’t done so already.

Within seconds, Google will let you know how your site is doing in this area and will provide suggestions on how to improve.

But I recommend taking it one step further and making it a point to create mobile-friendly content, which I cover in detail in this article.

This too can give you the necessary edge to surpass the competition.

Conclusion

Let’s recap.

To outdo your competition, you’ll want to check out their SEO stats and identify the content that’s providing them with the best backlinks.

From there, you’ll want to improve upon that content by using a few proven techniques.

Finally, it’s important to optimize your site from a technical standpoint.

By following this formula, you stand a good chance of outranking your competition’s best-performing page and ultimately cashing in on quality organic traffic.

Can you think of any other tactics that can help you beat the competition?  

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Comments

  1. My favourite technique is definitely to take their topic/post idea, but to do it much better than they have. Whether that’s having content that’s more organized, more in depth, or more interesting than theirs.

    Takes time, though, as with everything in SEO.

  2. Great article Neil. Thank you for sharing the tips. Will start working on it right away;)

  3. Just Awesome! Thank You Neil.

  4. Another ‘tactic’ that might work is to re-arrange content to better answer the needs of the incoming traffic. I see a lot place a ‘FAQ’ last in their articles, while they may in fact contain all the content the reader is actually trying to find – making the bounce rates explode because you’re hiding the content.

    • I do feel that is something worth a look Thomas. The idea usually is to cater for one goal across the content to get the user to the next phase of intent.

  5. Nathan Argenta :

    Thanks so much for this valuable piece of content Neil. Totally forgot about the skyscraper technique. Also will be focusing on more in-depth content, while making it easier to read and digest!

  6. Great actionable, article. What would be great is free or free-trial alternatives to the software tools that you mention.

  7. Francis Quarshie :

    Hi Neil,

    This post tells me Brian’s Skyscraper technique is not complete.

    So, let me try completing it with the value in here.

    This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read this year.

    Thanks for sharing

    Francis

  8. Good one. Am i the only person concern about internal linking between the page will benefit ranking?

    Or is this not so important for a ranking factor?

    • It is important and it improves the experience for the bots and users.

    • Steven Rich, MBA :

      Good stuff for traditional way Google ranked websites and blogs. But, times have changed with the recent Google “E-A-T” algorithm. I have written web page content and blog posts for brand new sites with no links at all and even having coding errors and Google is ranking them in their Top 10 Search Rankings for their main keywords!

      I read the latest Google “Guidelines for Ranking Websites and Blogs” (March, 2016) written for their employees which explains the new “E-A-T” standards. That’s how since last April, I have been getting my clients’ web pages and blog posts consistently into Google Top 10.

      I have published several online articles and blog posts about the new “E-A-T”.

      Steven Rich, MBA

  9. The one thing that I like to do is Do an Article where all of the content is Curated , then reach out to the Authors, of Curated Content , to inform them that I have used their Content in a New Article.
    If I get a response back, there could be a crucial Backlink, which will bring more Traffic and hopefully a higher Search Result.
    As always Neil, your Articles get me to review my current Strategies and change them if necessary….Thanks

  10. Neil, another masterpiece from you, i must say. The post has raised some concern though.

    The following page ranks well for the keyword “smtp server india”
    http://www.digitalaka.com/smtp-server-india/

    I did a research on this page and found that the a lot of ill SEO techniques have been used. Be it onsite or offsite.

    The page is supposed to show list out 10 best smtp providers however there is no content as such except for 2 paragraphs of self promotion.

    I also checked the backlinks and found that most of the links are from the irrelevant websites and directories and moreover the links are nofollow.

    So the case in point here:
    If there is no onsite seo or there’s misleading content and no proper backlink and still the page ranks well. What is the takeaway?

    And as per your 3rd point “Do what your competition is doing—but better,” should i try to follow & replicate what my competitor is doing and in turn outperform eventually?

    Is that what 3rd point trying to say? But again if so, will that be advisable in this case?

  11. George Eblacker :

    Spying on competition is one of the smartest and easiest things you can do to get ahead. Especially when you’re taking bits a pieces from every competitor.

    However there is definitely a couple of things that are off limits in my mind. False negative reviews and negative seo have become a part of the online business cultures and its pathetic. I hope review sites and google figure out a way to filter this. I’ve seen it crush innocent businesses.

    “it can get dirty, and nothing is off limits”

    • George, i agree with your points. And this brings me to this conclusion that Google was an infant when people used to bluff it with comments & directories backlinks.

      Now Google is a kid that is still bluffed with content stuffing.

      So Google has still a long way to grow up and mature, i guess.

    • There is room for improvement on reviews. Some newer software houses are figuring some interesting ways to sort.

  12. Awesome stuff (as usual) from Mr. Patel…

  13. Victor Winners :

    Great stuff Neil. I want to ask a quick question. Regarding the skyscraper model, does one need to credit the original publisher of the idea. Or is it okay if one goes ahead, expand on the idea and just publish it instead?

  14. the search engine content marketing battle is a never ending journey. One has to create unique content back to back daily in order to rank above their competitors in their niche. And he have to have a determined mindset in order to succeed and stay 1 up on competition..

  15. Great article Neil. Thank you for sharing the tips.

  16. Timely article as I’m trying to breathe new life into an old blog. I noticed you’re in the fitness ebook business, do you have any advice for finding info-product affiliates in such a competitive niche?

  17. I have heard about it but I need to go into the depth of skyscraper technique. Thanks for such a wonderful post, Neil!

  18. Hey Neil,
    This is gold! I should try the skyscraper technique on my blog as every blogger recommends using it. Plus, I maybe able to create evergreen content on my website to keep the traffic coming.
    Thanks for sharing the awesome ways to outrank our competitors.

  19. Arifuzzaman Arif :

    When the first sentence is ‘All is fair in love and SEO.’ you can only expect a great article. This article has given me many ideas to work on.

  20. Tally shortcut keys :

    Thanks Neil, I read about email marketing and found it very helpful, I will share it with some professional artists groups that I belong to. Cheers.

  21. dentist email list :

    Thanks Neil for shirring this informative post.it’s really nice post.best of luck.

  22. Obat Sipilis Gang Jie Gho Siah Asli :

    This is very obvious and very easy to understand truly beneficial for those who read thanks neil

  23. Marta Calligaro :

    Hi Neil
    How long after updating a page to give it long content would you expect a bump in the SERPs?

  24. Please clear one query, you are asking to focus on producing large content, but I have seen sometimes Google prefer authority over content length. So, how to compete with this factor?

    should we publish a mass content at once or slightly increase the content length adding few notes every day to improve the SERP?

    • Hey mitesh.

      Authority count.
      Consider Wikipedia’s pages .. some of pages are even shorter then 200 word and still perform better than the 2k word articles

    • It is depth and quality of content plus keeping true to the core topic of the site 😉

  25. And Neil, is that bug or something because it’s weird? I shared your post on FB and still the count shows ‘Zero!’

  26. I value your blog posts and insights. With regard to adding more visuals, it’s hard to find a clear-cut answer re: using others photos. I have a Design/Décor website and at some point I just don’t have enough photos of my own to explain something well. Do you know, is there any set protocol for using others images?

    • I would explore using customers images where possible as it builds trust. Because using other people’s images there are quite a few rules to follow online.

  27. You are kind of a big deal 🙂

  28. Hey Neil, I value your insights but what does making a website “more” mobile friendly mean?

    I and most likely everyone who is into knows the importance of having a mobile friendly website in 2016 but what does “more” refer to?

    Also, what is your take on switching to https vs having the same http version of websites? Any take on that as well?

    Thanks,

    Naman.

    • It means making the site performance suit the device more through speed and adapting to all screen sizes.

      Https is worth the switch but make sure you are prepared when you do it as it can dip before rising again.

  29. Great post Neil. Definitely technical issues can give us an edge over our competitors.

  30. Your articles always help me in growing my blog.. Thank you Neil sir

  31. Great seo tips
    Thank you for sharing

  32. Good techniques for seo ranking

  33. These tips will useful to my seo ranking purpose
    Thank you

  34. Jamie A Andrio :

    Great article Neil. Thank you for sharing the tips. Will start to implement right now 😀

  35. Diseño Web Salamanca :

    Great post! I specially like the “visual-centric” tip.
    Thanks for sharing

  36. Great Article. I’d like to suggest getting better links than your competitor’s page is necessary too. If you create great content, then links will be easier to get.

  37. Great article, really valuable information as I am in a very difficult industry.

  38. Lovekesh Sachdeva :

    Hey Neil,
    Great post again and again

  39. Hello, Neil. I’m running http://www.nakulgrover.com for the last 8 months. As an Indian writer, I understand what works and what doesn’t in India. Indians love connecting themselves with cultural background which I’m always able to create successfully in my posts.

    In the beginning, as you say, content is the king, I updated my blog with big post. People loved my articles too. I’ve converted them as well. But the problem is I’m unable to drive traffic on my website.

    I got too busy in learning SEO that it effected my writing. I used to blog 3 times a week but now I’ve updated my blog 3 times in 2 months which effected my Alexa ranking (from 25000 to 8 lakh).

    Focusing on SEO effected my reading habit too. Earlier, I read 8-9 books a month, now I’m unable to do on the same speed.

    Though, I’m getting good following from social media, but I’m unsatisfied with the traffic.

    I would be greatful if you could share your views on the problem. Should I continue to learn SEO or should I return to reading, writing and updating?

    SEO is damn frightening…

  40. Great Post to Outrank the Competitors, Explained Step by Step process.

  41. Thank you for sharing. So helpfull.

  42. Thanks for sharing the valuable content Neil! I truly admire the way you represent the content. Drafting a worthy blog post is always a better option to drag more and more customers to the website. I personally use several backlink monitoring tool to find out the backlinks of competitor’s website.

  43. Flats near Belgharia Expressway :

    Nice Post.
    Thanks for Sharing.

  44. Wow, Excellent post. Thanks for sharing

  45. Thanks for sharing another information It is very helpful to build my SEO by step by Step

  46. Hi Neil, I have a question regarding backlinks. For the UK website does it matter if backlinks come from the websites with UK ip or it doesn’t matter? What if there will be a lot of websites with US ip linking to UK website?

  47. Thanks for your valuable content.
    I hope following your tips will help me get good results

  48. Neil, you are literally everywhere. Congrats!
    I look forward to checking out your book during the holidays.

  49. I am also trying to outrank one of the popular blog. While i was researching on them via ahrefs, i checked their top pages and got a popular keyword with low competition. I checked my competitor’s article which was back dated. So, created a long and updated post and now m working to rank for that keyword.
    Btw, thanks for this awesome staff.

  50. A great piece of information Neil. I thoroughly enjoyed read and gained some mind blowing knowledge.
    I am reading each and every blog post and just loved it.

  51. Traffic hacks can easily be done by just checking where their backlinks are. But it is also important to analyze the page on the qualitative level.

  52. Thanks Neil for this informative piece. Once again you’ve given me fresh tips for my new venture as a SEO. Thanks!

  53. Hey Neil
    Experiencing more traffic than usual on this particular article?
    Maybe because on your page being shared and liked by Guy Kawasaki. You have got quite an audience 🙂

    Congrats on a yet another amazing article. We love you.

    Ricky

    PS: Please fix the tab order on the comment box. It goes to the logo instead of NAME field.

  54. This is what I have been searching for…. Thank you Neil

  55. Hi Neil,

    This is a very nice post and there is one doubt I would like to ask.

    How many H1 can I use on a single post ? Is it okay if I use multiple ?

    Please let me know you thoughts.

    Thanks
    Sreekanth

  56. Hi Neil
    I am your big fan.
    This information is very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing

  57. Dear Neil,

    Thanks for insight, but I have to add some point which I found with my observation.

    I targeted many long tail keyword, but all those keywords are captured by big shot.

    They are not even targeting those keyword. There are just randomly picked even worst their content did not match with keywords.

    While people like us end up to 2 and 3 page and get 1 or 2 click only. This is kind a worst feeling. It is like Good Guy ditched by women for Bad Boys…

  58. Hello Sir,
    I appreciate your blog.
    Thank you for posting.

  59. Narinder kumar :

    Thanks neil for sharing about google webmaster tools. its really awesome tools to index our blog in google SERP.

  60. Isaac Inegbenehi :

    Wow! This is a very high quality content. The part that interests me most is doing what competitors are doing but far better. Thanks for this article….

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