Every blogger wants to look at Google and see that their recent post is thriving, getting the limelight that it deserves. This dream to outrank your competitors on Google isn’t a pipe dream, my friend! 

It’s a strategic approach to writing content.

Today, I will show you how you can find your competitors’ keywords and then write content that search engines interpret as BETTER to outrank them.

Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility… *gong* 

Let’s dive in!

Do Keyword Research On Your Competitors

If you want to beat your seo competition and rank higher on Google, the first thing you need to know is exactly what phrase an article was optimized for. 

Even though you might see an article ranking (being on page 1 of Google) for the search term “blogging disadvantages,” it might not have been OPTIMIZED for that keyword. 

How is this possible?? 

Articles rank for multiple keywords; sometimes dozens. And the main keyword is never the only keyword that brings in traffic. 

Paradoxically, just because a post shows up in search engine results for a specific keyword, doesn’t automatically mean that the post was optimized for it. 

Finding out which keywords make up the traffic to a given blog post isn’t always as easy as it sounds. After all, in a well-written piece of content keywords are used naturally and are therefore not easily spotted. 

Psst. Need a refresher on keywords? Here’s an easy breakdown:

Fortunately, there are many keyword research tools that can help you out! Finding your competitors’ keywords is a feature that’s found in most, if not all keyword research tools.

For this post, let’s look at how you can analyze other bloggers’ traffic in my preferred tool: Keysearch.

Pinterest pin image with woman on computer and text "how to outrank your competitors on Google"

What makes Keysearch the golden goose of keyword research, you ask?

  • It’s affordable for beginners – only $13.60 a month with the discount code KSDISC
  • The interface is much less complicated than other more expensive SEO software
  • There’s room to grow. Start out doing your basic keyword research and continue to explore the features and data as you go

In fact, you’re just about to explore a few new Keysearch features right now!

Step by step, we’re going to walk through the process together. Let’s use the keyword “beginning blogging tips” as an example. We’ve already decided on this keyword and now we’re turning to Keysearch to understand how to write a post that will outrank what’s already on page 1 of Google.

Step one is to…

1. Analyze Other Bloggers’ Traffic

This step helps you find additional keywords to optimize your post for.

Together, let’s open up Keyseach and search “beginner blogging tips.”

Inside Keysearch you’ll see an array of data points, but let’s zoom in on volume. This number refers to the average number of monthly searches for this keyword.

This quick search in Keysearch gives it a measly search volume of 20. 

Screenshot of how to find search volume of Google searches in Keysearch

At first glance, that seems surprisingly low, right? It might even suggest that it’s not really worth spending time and effort on the pursuit of this keyword. 

Yet, the pages that are ranking show something strange. They’re all sites with high Domain Authority (DA). Despite its low search volume, this keyword is still competitive!

Something seems off here.

How to find domain authority of ranking posts in Keysearch screenshot

Would a bunch of big websites be fighting it out after only 20 readers a month? Probably not, which means that we can assume that there’s a lot more traffic going to these articles.

Keysearch can actually tell us the estimated traffic of each of these URLs, so let’s pop open the hood and look.

To find traffic, click on the Rankings/Traffic button and look at the URL Traffic column.

How to find URL traffic in Keysearch screenshot

We can see that the estimated monthly traffic for the top three websites is in the thousands every month.

Now this keyword isn’t looking too bad, amiright?!

But how could that be when the search volume was only 20? Each of those blog posts are ranking for MORE than just that keyword.

In order to understand the makeup of the traffic to those posts, we need to see what other keywords that post is ranking for in Google.

So let’s lean in and look at exactly where traffic to the top three posts is coming from.

In the URL Traffic column, click on the blue number (the estimated monthly traffic number) of the top Google hit.

This will open up a window showing you all of the organic keywords that this piece of content is ranking for.

Screenshot of what keywords in a blog post ranking for in Keysearch

Almost every piece of content has multiple keywords leading to it, acting like bridges onto an island.

As you can see, this post is ranking not only for our keyword best blogging tips, but also for many other keywords that are only slightly different. 

This neat option enables you to see the exact keywords a given post is ranking for and how much (estimated) traffic each of these keywords brings in. You have now found a long list of keyword ideas that you might be able to write and rank for!

More importantly, you can try to outrank your onpage competitors by consciously optimizing for those related keywords that Google connects to your article.

Your action item based on this information: revisit your article before publishing and add in related keywords and LSI keywords for the other top keywords.

Emotional check-in. How’s it going?? If this feels a little overwhelming, try going a few steps back in the SEO process and focusing there instead. You CAN learn SEO, you just need the right resources! My beginner explanation of keyword research can help fill in some gaps (video).

If SEO, or search engine optimization, feels intimidating, use my SEO checklist. In this 40-page guide, I walk you through all the steps of SEO, from keyword research to how to write blog posts that are fully optimized. 

SEO isn’t something only wizards and gurus that work at some digital marketing company can master. Instead, it’s completely doable and should never prevent you from claiming your own corner online.

2. Analyze Competitors Page And Domain

This step helps you find endless keyword ideas and opportunities.

Sometimes finding keywords is just a pain. I mean, do you ever have those days when you have an idea but it seems impossible to find matching keywords? 

This is when I like to take a peek at my competitors for a little more than just inspiration.

This time, let’s turn to another cool feature on the Keysearch keyword tool that lets you take a look behind the curtain of your competitor’s website. It’s called the Competitor Gap and can be found on the Competitive Analysis tab. 

How to find competitor gap analysis in Keysearch-screenshot

There are two columns: one for the web page you want to examine and one for your own domain. 

How to use Keysearch competitor gap-screenshot

Sticking to our example keyword, I’m curious to see if there are any opportunities for the keyword best blogging tips for beginners. I entered it in Keysearch and am looking to compare that article with my site to see if there’s anything I can do to improve my own article.

Let’s insert the number one search engine result, the mighty Hubspot, in the left column and my site on the right.

Remember that some articles rank for hundreds of keywords in addition to the one we researched?

This is clearly the case for this search query as our competitor Google ranks number in the triple digits. Here are some of the relevant keywords that came up:

  • blog tips for beginners
  • blogging beginners
  • blogging basics
  • tips on blogging
Screenshot of Keysearch competitor gap example

As you can see, there are keywords that closely resemble best blogging tips for beginners and keywords that are about something else completely.

What this means for you: use this tool to help you find keywords for A) new content ideas, B) an article that you’re currently writing and C) updating articles that didn’t rank well enough.

How To Outrank Your Competition

So you’ve looked at your competitors and found keywords that are within your realm. The next step is to write something that’s better and knock them off the podium! 

But how do you do that?? What does it mean for content to be good and how can you make yours better??

In order to outrank competitors on Google, you need to work on three things:

  1. The quality of your content
  2. Your on-page SEO
  3. The user experience

Improving any of these three will send powerful signals to Google that your content is good and deserves to be ranked higher.

1. What Is Quality Content?

Anyone who’s looked into basic SEO has probably come across the idea that you look at what’s out there and just do it better. *flexes biceps* 

While this is certainly a good goal, it’salso easy to say. The advice to make better content is not particularly helpful if you don’t know what makes content good in the first place. 

This is important: making something better is more than just adding words. Follow these specific steps instead for better results and real added value. 

Add Graphics

Graphics speak to the Google algorithm as well as the humans that will read your post.

Adding visuals to your content might be the first thing you think of when you’re trying to come up with ways to outdo some of the existing content. 

And this instinct is…. *drumroll* correct! 

Including original imagery, and especially custom infographics, can boost your rankings in an indirect way as they are an opportunity to both showcase your expertise and share who you are and what your brand is all about. 

Think about it: if you are able to produce quality, custom graphics to illustrate your content and get your message across, you must know what you’re talking about! Maybe you can even be seen as an expert.

Likewise, if your brand consistenly puts out educational content filled custom graphics, you’re increasingly likely to be seen as an authority within your niche.

If you make sure your images are branded, and therefore recognizable, you put yourself out there which makes your brand more approachable and trustworthy.

According to Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT), sites that score high in these categories are considered high-quality sites and as a result see a boost in search engine rankings. Creating custom graphics boosts all three of these and will indirectly boost your rankings.

The algorithm likes images, and so do humans. NOBODY likes to be confronted with a massive wall of text. 

If you make your readers feel like they’re reading an essay, they will almost certainly get bored and leave the page.  

As an ex-high school English teacher, I approve this message. 

But the remedy is easy: this is where you should use pictures and graphics to breathe some life into an otherwise unwelcoming page.

While images don’t carry a lot of direct SEO power on their own, they do help you cast a wider net.

After all, the images you include in your blog posts aren’t limited to your website: they can be shared on social media and other search engines like Pinterest.

Optimize For Search Intent

What do people WANT to see when they search something on Google?

Is “search intent” a new vocab word for you? Don’t worry – it’s actually your friend. 

The elephant in the room with outranking your competitors is the voice in the back of your head saying: when somebody else already provided instructions on how to do this, how could my post be a better solution? 

This is where search intent comes in.

When people use Google, they do so to find certain information. Google in turn wants to present its users with the information that’s as close as possible to what users want to see.

An example of search intent in action can be seen when you type in the word pizza into Google. 

The first page is full of pizza restaurants. 

Not a single pizza recipe. 

Nothing on the history of pizza. 

Nothing on the tools you need to make pizza.

Just restaurants.

This is because Google knows that generally, when someone types pizza into their phone, they’re generally interested in ordering it for dinner (or breakfast, no judgment). 

It’s logical that anyone looking to make pizza themselves would type in the query pizza recipe.  

When you want to boost the ranking of your article, keep this in mind. Look at what’s out there and see if you can make your content more aligned with search intent. 

Here’s how you do it:

1. Format

For your keyword, look at the SERPs on the first page of Google (the pages that are already ranking). 

Pay special attention to the kind of posts that dominate page one. Are they lists? How-to guides? Step-by-step guides? Product reviews?

That means that this is the format Google prefers to present to its users and you would do well to follow suit.

2. Intent

Not every post is written with the same goal in mind. Are the ranking posts trying to share information? Show products for sale? Compare different products? Sometimes,

Revisit the top three search results with search intent in mind. Is there any way you can make your article align more with the underlying search intent? Can you make it more informational? Can you write a more in-depth comparison?

Google clearly shows you the kind of content it deems the most relevant for searchers. Optimize for this as well as your keywords!

3. Content

Search engines ant to give their users exactly what they want so make your article more valuable by adding content that people want to see!

The “People also ask” bar on Google can give you an idea of what kind of extra content to add so your blog post aligns more with search intent.

Here’s what shows up when you look for things to do in Havana.

google suggested question search screenshot

There seem to be two main things that people want to know about visiting Havana. Readers want to know what the city is known for and how long a trip should be in order to properly visit and experience the Cuban capital.  

There’s an opportunity here to touch on things like: 

  • recommended number of days to spend in Havana 
  • some of the things that people commonly associate with Havana such as rum, cigars, or Castro 

Don’t forget to give your added content some extra SEO weight by giving it its own subheading! When you add extra information, don’t just sprinkle it through the text. Have it pack a punch!

PS – You can get even more of these ideas by moving off of Google search and into the Content Assistant feature in Keysearch: 

Screenshot of Keysearch content assistant LSI keywords

Word to the wise: adding LSI keywords (via the Content Assistant tab) should become a regular part of your blogging process.

Provide Depth

Zooming back over to Google: the “People ask for” section can give you some excellent pointers of what to include in your article to increase its quality. 

However, sometimes there’s little extra information to add. This is when you need to go deep rather than wide.

One of the best ways to outrank your competitors is to make your content more in-depth than what’s out there. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Looking at what’s ranking at the moment, is there anything that’s been overlooked?
  • Maybe you can explain things that were left unexplained, provide more context? 
  • Is there a way in which you can take it further?
  • Can you add a unique angle to what’s already out there?

The quality of your content is one of the most important ranking factors and regularly publishing sends a powerful signal to Google. This doesn’t mean that it’s your only option for boosting your rankings!

2. Spot-On SEO 

Improving the quality of your content isn’t the only way you can outrank your competitors: you can also up your on-page SEO efforts. 

Many of us have at least some ideas on how to improve our content, or even make ours better than the current SERPs. However, looking at an existing site and coming up with a plan on how to out-SEO them is tricky.

On their site, the people at First Page Sage break down a few of the most important ranking factors and the SEO weight they carry. 

Unfortunately, three of the heavy hitters are consistency, backlinks, and niche expertise and these can only be built up over time. It immediately becomes clear why it’s so hard to compete as a new blogger. No matter how good your SEO is, there is a limit on what you can compete with.  

Sites that consistently put out high quality content centered around a single topic are favored by Google. Newer websites or those with a relatively low domain authority (DA) can’t compete on those fronts with established powerhouses. 

Not sure what your domain authority is? Check yours here. The higher the number the better. 

All this sounds like there’s not much you can do as a new blogger as many of the important ranking factors can only be built up slowly.

The good news is that there are plenty of ranking factors that you CAN work on. By actively improving things like page speed, friendly to mobile devices, user experience, and on-site SEO, you can stretch your ranking potential. 

Obviously these factors in themselves will not enable you to outperform any site you want.  No amount of optimizing will knock down sites like Lonely Planet or TripAdvisor to make room for your brand-new travel blog.

However, if you’re looking to outrank someone that’s just above you, these tips can give you the edge you need. 

So far, these tips on how to outrank your competitors have focused on on-page SEO (optimizing your blog posts themselves), but SEO doesn’t stop there. 

It’s time to boost your content by going off page, starting with backlinks. 

Build Backlinks

One of the reasons an established website is stronger than a new one is because of the number of links it has gathered over the years. 

To be clear, we’re not talking about internal links here. It’s the backlinks that provide the most SEO mojo.

When one website links to another, that’s called a backlink. The best way to understand them in SEO terms is to see a backlink as an independent vote of confidence

After all, you wouldn’t just put any link in your blog post. 

And, neither would any other blogger. 

It is not surprising that Google sees backlinks as a very strong sign of quality and therefore as an important ranking factor.

Accumulating backlinks is something you have little control over and that happens organically over time. The sticky wicket for new bloggers is that generating backlinks depends on people seeing your content in the first place.

I mean, how can anyone link to content they never see? 

It’s been said many times before in the online world: by FAR the best and most effective way to gather quality links is to write quality content that is worthy of being linked to. As long as you have great content, links will slowly come in over time.

However, that doesn’t mean that all you can do is wait! Let’s look at a few ways in which you can speed up the process!

Start strategically building links to your most important content every time you write a guest post, and then gradually build up the strength of the post by continuously building links to it.

The format you choose for your content can have a significant impact on the number of links it receives. Link bait posts, or posts that are DESIGNED to get backlinks, such as guides, how-tos, or posts containing beautiful graphics all have the potential of attracting a large number of backlinks. 

In fact, my most linked-to piece is this post on Pinterest marketing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is classic link-bait material! 

Take a moment to look at what your most link-baity pieces of EXISTING content are by checking your backlinks.

To do this, go to Ahrefs to their free backlink checker tool.

Screenshot of how to check your backlinks in Ahrefs 1

Then after entering your website, select “Top 5 Pages” and see what your most linked-to piece of content is.

Screenshot of how to check your backlinks in Ahrefs 2

Another way to attract backlinks is to join Facebook groups in your niche. Many bloggers will ask for submissions for round-up posts. 

Here’s my most fruitful linking group; it’s focused on the travel space.  

If a group is active, it doesn’t take long to start gathering backlinks!

Once you have that initial boost, you have a better chance of bringing in backlinks organically.

Keywords And Basic SEO

Building backlinks sounds like an amazing strategy, doesn’t it? Well, the sad thing is that nobody is going to build backlinks to your piece if they can’t see it. This is where basic SEO comes in. 

Yes, we’ve gone back to on-page SEO! 

If you want your content to be searchable, you need to master your basic SEO skills. Knowing how to optimize your blog posts is absolutely essential if you want any chance of ranking. 

You’ll quickly find that things like keyword research, writing good headlines and meta descriptions, and optimizing your images aren’t that complicated once you’ve gotten the steps under your belt. 

Promote Your Content

I know it can feel like an eternity before you see any tangible results from your SEO efforts. It can take a while for a post to be indexed and it often takes months before you see a post rank well. 

While things like raising your Domain Authority and gaining backlinks take time, getting your content in front of people doesn’t have to be as slow. 

Especially if you take some time to actively promote your new piece of content. 

Consider sharing your content on these platforms: 

  • Pinterest: as a search engine, this is an absolute must for your content 
  • LinkedIn: this is an often-overlooked place to grow your audience and disgust yourself as a leader in your niche 
  • Facebook: it might not lead to much traffic, but each Facebook share will count toward each article’s share count, which lends authority to your writing 
  • YouTube: if you’re making video content, tactfully create resource lists of your blog posts and include them in each video description 
  • Twitter: at 280 characters a tweet, it doesn’t take much effort to summarize your blog content and share it on Twitter 

Getting into the habit of sharing your blog posts will get your content in front of an infinitely larger audience than a sit back and wait approach. 

If you want to start publishing on Pinterest today, you can use my templates that are specifically designed for the platform:

I bet I know what you’re thinking: the idea that every post comes with a massive to-do list isn’t very appealing. *agreed* 

Rest assured, you’re neither the first nor the only one to feel this way! 

Instead of manually sharing new posts, why not automate and schedule social sharing with one of the free tools on the market? 

Here are my favorites: 

  1. If This Then That (IFTTT): set up automations so that every time you publish a blog post, your post is automatically shared on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. 
  2. Later: schedule social posts across essentially any platform so that you can batch your content sharing for a week, month, or quarter at a time 

3. Improve User Experience

In order to provide its users with the best experience, Google wants nothing more than to present what it deems the highest quality content.

When determining the quality of your content, Google doesn’t just rely on its own set of quality guidelines, it also takes its users’ opinions into account. In other words, Google assumes that if your audience reads multiple articles per visit and stays on the page for a while as they click around, that must mean your content is interesting.

Every time someone binge reads your articles, what’s really happening is that they’re sending signals to Google telling them that your content is worth reading.

These user experience signals are huge

Never forget that in the eyes of Google, quality is more than just endless depth in subject matter. 

After all, when was the last time you saw a super-in-depth scientific article in your search results?

So, what exactly are these powerful social signals? And more importantly, how can you improve them?

Reduce Bounce Rate

Would you recommend content that people seem to discard immediately? You probably wouldn’t, and neither does Google. 

The percentage of people that leave your page without interacting with any of your content is called your Bounce Rate. Obviously, having a lower percentage is better than a higher one when it comes to SEO. 

On average, a visitor decides whether or not to read your post within a matter of seconds. The sad truth is that, as bloggers, we have to pander to people that are very, very impatient. 

And what are they doing in this short time? They’re LOOKING for a reason to disengage with your content. A visitor wants to click away and spend as little time as possible reading, and it’s your job to keep them interested by grabbing their attention right from the start.

While there are multiple ways to work on reducing your bounce rate, these three give you an excellent starting point: 

  • Have your title match your content
  • Write a killer introduction
  • Make your website easily navigable

A huge factor in bounce rate is search intent. People click away once they see that a search result isn’t what they were looking for. Oftentimes, this happens because the title that you see in search results doesn’t fully match the content of a given post. 

Think about it: when you click on a lasagna recipe, learning that it’s vegan after you click might make you leave the page. (pass the REAL cheese please and keep your cashews) 

Finally, the extremely short attention span possessed by the average visitor is an extra reason for you to write a killer introduction for every piece of content. Your introduction is very important for SEO but it’s also important for reducing bounce rate! 

Every piece of content should state the benefit to the reader as soon and as clearly as possible. What’s in it for them? What do they get after reading your content?

You only have a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention so make them count! 

If you need some help with this, I go deeper in my blog post outline article. 

Increase Time Spent On Page

You want to make it very clear to Google that your content is awesome and what BETTER way to do this than have your readers do it for you?

The average amount of time a reader spends on your page is important. In fact, it is so important that Hubspot calls it the number one metric to track

As we talked about earlier, you can keep people from clicking away by picking the right title and taking search intent into account; however, we want more than that. We want people to read our content in its entirety. 

When you write your blog post, keep in mind that anything that’s even a little confusing poses a significant risk of people leaving the page.

Make sure to format your content in such a way that it’s easy on the eyes. Break up those walls of text with:

  • Subheadings
  • Images or graphics
  • Bullet points

Next, make your content even more scannable by including a table of contents. Tell people where to find the information they need and that reading more of your article is worth their time.

Finally, avoid overly long paragraphs and sentences. When it comes to formatting your blog posts, short is better than long and easy is better than complicated.

Never forget that although your audience wants your information, they are very unlikely to spend a lot of time and effort to get it. 

Final Thoughts

Do you feel feel like there’s no point going after some of those competitive keywords? Feel like you’ll never be able to break through to the first page? Then I have some good news for you!

Even as a small or new blogger, there are steps you can take to give your content the boost it deserves. As long as you take a strategic approach to the content you put out, you can do more than you think.

While there’s little chance you can compete with some of the giants in your niche, that doesn’t mean you can’t punch a little above your weight!

With these hacks, you now know how to outrank your competitors on Google! What surprised you most, or what tips do you have to add? I’d love to hear in the comments!