SEO was never a blinkers-on approach. You have to keep your options open and on the table at all times. Plus, you have to be ready to change tracks and try something different each time your Plan A doesn’t work.
It is only natural for an SEO executive to think, at one point or another, about going after competitors’ keywords! It is commonplace to think that your competitors are walking away with the business and the traffic because of their stranglehold on keywords, many of which they have branded for themselves. By branded keywords, I mean those keywords and phrases which have the name of the brand or the sub-brand attached to the keyword.
It is not wrong to think that optimizing for your competitors’ keywords is unethical. You can do that by staying within the rules of the game. What you need to know is how you can optimize them properly so that you derive some benefit out of it. Otherwise, it is much ado about nothing!
Evaluate potency of the branded keywords
To start off this process, you need to evaluate the potency of these branded keywords that you want to target. Are they as efficient as you think? Previously you looked upon them with a tinge of envy, but not anymore! Now you need to cast a critical eye and find out their performance on search engines and their dominance of the market in your domain of business. If you find that the numbers are worth going after, move on to the next step.
The next logical step in this process is to conduct opinion surveys among potential buyers. The question to ask is obvious: why are they buying from the brand you are targeting as opposed to buying from a brand like yours? There are various ways of conducting these polls and we are not going into those details in this post.
Once the reasons are in and you compile them together, the flowchart moves to the next step: can you draw away some of those customers? In this step, you can ask your own brand about the same questions that you put up for customers of your competitors. That will give you an idea of where your brand stands in the perception of buyers. If the two results tally enough for you to say for sure that you can go after the branded keywords and draw away people to your side, you should start the core optimizing part of the operation.
Self Hosted Content
There are two ways in which you can strike out on the content required for optimization. One is the self-hosted kind and the other is the third-party hosted variety. Let us examine each one separately so you know what to do with each of them.
To develop content for self-hosted platforms, you need to identify the right keywords and phrases. Not all branded keywords of your competitors will qualify for your needs. Since you have the volume against keyword chart on your side, you know the keywords that are out of your reach. Don’t get too ambitious!
While you write content for self-hosted web pages, you need to focus deeply on the user experience. Remember that you are targeting customers of another brand. It will take more than the customary effort to wean them away.
Third Party Hosted variety
Moving on the third-party content dissemination, you should follow the usual route of using guest blog posts, especially from influencers and opinion makers in your line of work. You can ask them politely to give their two cents or even get an external reviewer, paid of course, to write some reviews about your products and services. Opting for sponsored content is also something that you can use.
Finally, when the content pages of both types are filled up, it is time to amplify and promote them across the board. Here, too, influencers play a large role in getting your content the kind of exposure it sorely needs. Of course, you need to get your own group of loyal customers on your side. Their bit in plugging your content is always an added impetus. Social networks are quite valuable in this regard.
A note of caution: Before you embark on this plank, get in a word with legal experts about copyright issues on branded keywords and the like. You don’t want legal hassles and I’m no legal eagle to guide you here!