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How to work out what makes you different from your competitors for SEO

Every business owner I’ve ever met has explained to me the things that make their business different from their competitors, however when it comes to targeting their Google they naturally want to rank for the most competitive, generic search terms. The thing is, for most businesses the best place to start is to try to target their website to those things that make their business different in the first place. The rest will come in time.

Now I’m not talking here about using tools to work out what your competitors are targeting, there are loads of these out there, with anything from Alexa to SE Ranking to SpuFu, you need to be thinking about using these tools at some point but here I’m talking about understanding and using the things that make you different from your competitor, that they can’t compete on, because they’re not you.

Thinking about GrowTraffic to start with, I’ve always positioned myself as a freelance seo consultant, because that’s what I am. I’m not trying to build a traditional search marketing agency, but even if I were to have that as an ambition, we don’t operate as an agency, so it would be wrong to try to target traffic of searchers looking for an seo agency.

Over the years I’ve carried out a lot of seo for London businesses and those businesses naturally want to target their location as being in London, however London is big and that means it’s competitive, you can almost guarantee if you’re doing something in London that a competitor will be there doing the same thing, so why go all guns blazing to start off with by targeting London? Every business in London will have a more granular location that can be targeted first, whether that means targeting the City of London, Westminster, Bayswater, Camden etc. If you pick off and dominate the locations in which your business operates in first you are more likely to be able to get the broader location terms. In the past I’ve proved this by attaining top 3 rankings for the very competitive term Hotel in London, first by targeting Bayswater, then by targeting Westminster and later by targeting London.

Of course this is an example of Location but you can apply it to other types of search queries and the things which make your business unique. For example if you’re a restaurant you may find there are 10 restaurants nearby, you wouldn’t start a restaurant doing exactly the same as those other restaurants, so you make it different in some way. If you’ve created a different type of restaurant to all your competitors, why would you then start to try to target Restaurant in XXXX (XXXX being your location)?

And how would I go about targeting your website in this capacity? We all know that there are only so many keywords you can optimise a page for, there are only so many keywords you can put in the page title and in the H tags so I would always suggest the homepage should be used to do target your business to the things that makes it different and then the next step is to create content that targets you in different ways. So now we’re talking about creating a content marketing strategy to reinforce and develop the targeting of the website.

The creation of blog content is the one sure fired way to help reinforce the trust and authority of your website. I wrote a case study earlier this year about the impact of carrying out a really intensive content marketing campaign in the construction industry for more than a year and the learnings I’ve taken from that and although I saw a grow of around 18% a month in both sales and traffic, it was clear that link building is one of the most important things you need to be thinking about in order to get your content campaign and rankings moving faster.

These links however should always in my opinion come from content that discusses the things that make you unique. I believe this is where many link building operations fail and damage the seo of a website, because people think about quantity of links instead of quality of links on the one hand, and on the other hand think about quality of links in terms of the quality of site and quality content rather than the actual context of the content that’s being created which returns the link.

The things that make you different to your competitors are the things that will make your customers interested in reading about what you’ve got to say. As a freelance seo consultant I target a space that’s taken up by link builders, by wordpress plugin builders, by individuals who have limited business experience outside being a freelancer, whereas I’ve worked with multi-national companies and in national companies in a marketing capacity and that’s important as it something that differentiates me. Yes I can do the technical elements of seo, but I’m going to look at seo from a marketing perspective and I’ve got almost a decade a half worth of experience to back up what I do. Perhaps I need to shout about this more myself!

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