If you want lots of people to click through to your site, you have to create something amazing. Negative SEO doesn’t help with that. Start by entering up to 10 sites in the box on this page, and include your own site so you can see how it performs. Since our example keyword is “walnut tables,” I’ve found a few sites that rank well for that keyword. I also recommend using Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to find out how easy it will be for your site to rank for different keywords. That’s because those businesses used local SEO. You can see this restaurant’s NAP at the bottom of the page: If you use local SEO but Competitor X doesn’t, people close to you will naturally see your site first in the SERPs. Look out for various types of keyword stuffing Back when I started SEO, it was pretty normal for people to use focus keywords a lot. Find hidden keywords This is also a form of finding keyword stuffing, but it’s a lot more deceptive and definitely deserves its own section. Finding keyword stuffing on a page, like the example above, is really easy.
The SEO landscape looks a lot different today than it did ten years ago.
When I started doing SEO, the Internet was a much different place. The rules we have in place now didn’t exist back then.
It was common to practice black hat SEO. Today, we call this cheating.
People used to do crazy things. They’d write their focus keyword 100 times on each page and make the text the same color as the background.
I did more black hat SEO than I’d like to admit back in the day. I was only 16 at the time, and I wasn’t thinking about consequences.
Besides, it was a totally legit method back then.
Obviously, I no longer do any black hat stuff.
One black hat technique that used to be quite popular was negative SEO.
Negative SEO is using black hat SEO on your competitors in order to lower their search rankings.
When you use negative SEO, you launch an attack on enemy sites with the goal of getting Google to penalize them.
It’s pretty scummy.
Over time, I came to realize that if you use negative SEO, you’re not improving your own site.
You’re not trying to move up in the SERPs. Instead, you’re trying to bring your rivals down.
I quickly noticed that negative SEO didn’t have any lasting impacts.
If you want lots of people to click through to your site, you have to create something amazing. Negative SEO doesn’t help with that.
That’s why I always tell people to focus on making great content.
However, there are some ways to ethically bury your competitors in the SERPs.
There’s no black hat SEO here, and your site will improve if you use these techniques.
It’s the best of both worlds. You’ll watch your competitors’ rankings go down, and you won’t lose any sleep over it.
1. Spy on your competitors’ keywords
This is one of the sneakiest ways of getting the upper hand on your competition.
Let’s say your focus keyword is “walnut tables.”
You’ve probably already analyzed that keyword, but have you compared it to what your competitors are using?
You can actually find out the specific keywords other sites use. Then you can use those keywords for your own benefit.
There’s a great site called Alexa that you can use to do this.
Head over to Alexa.com and click the big button on the homepage that says “Try 7 Days Free.”
On the next page, choose the Advanced plan. (Since you’re just going to be using a free trial, you want to get the most bang for your hypothetical buck.)
Once you’ve set up your account, head to your account Dashboard.
In the sidebar on the left side, click on the option that says “Competitor Keyword Matrix.”
There’s a super handy Quick Start guide at the top of the page:
Go ahead and run through that if you want a better idea of what this tool does.
Basically, it will help you find keywords that your competitors are using.
Start by entering up to 10 sites in the box on this page, and include your own site so you can see how it performs.
Since our example keyword is “walnut tables,” I’ve found a few sites that rank well for that keyword.
After you’ve entered all the sites you want, click “Create Matrix.”
You’ll see a lot of information pop up, and it’s all worth examining closely.
However, we’re interested in this section:
This might not look like a lot, but it’s chock full of awesome information.
This table tells you which keywords your competitors are using, how popular those keywords are, and how much organic and paid traffic is coming in from those keywords.
You can create as many matrices as you want! So even if you have 100 competitors, you can analyze every single one of them.
Oh, and did I mention you have access to literally hundreds of thousands of keywords?
Best of all, you can download this information for later use by clicking the Download icon in the upper-right corner of the table.
You’ll get the results in a convenient .csv format.
I absolutely love this tool. It lets you take a peek at your rivals’ strategies and tells you how well their keywords are doing.
(By the way, don’t forget to cancel your trial before the 7 days are up if you don’t want to pay for it.)
I also recommend using Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to find out how easy it will be for your site to rank for different keywords.
2. Use the power of local SEO
Everyone seems to forget local SEO.
Most businesses I’ve talked to spend all their time and energy trying to rank higher for huge keywords on a global level.
Even though local SEO seems wimpy, it’s not, and I’ll show you why.
Have you ever noticed that when you search something like “plumbing,” you get all local results?
That’s because those businesses used local SEO.
Local SEO is its own field of study, but the #1 thing you should know is an acronym: NAP.
It has nothing to do with sleeping on the couch. It stands for three pieces of information about your business: name, address, and place.
You should use your NAP on Google My Business (GMB) and on important pages of your site, like your homepage and contact page.
You can see this restaurant’s NAP at the bottom of the page:
If you use local SEO but Competitor X doesn’t, people close to you will naturally see your site first in the SERPs. That’s the big advantage of this method.
Like I said, this just scratches the surface of local SEO. If you want to read more, check out this article.
3. Personally refer people to your site
Recommendations can go a long way.
A recommendation can actually be a preventative act for your SEO strategy.
Confused? Imagine this.
We’ll say you sell sweatshirts. Customer X wants to find a site that sells good sweatshirts.
What are the odds of Customer X finding you among all your competitors? It might be low or high, but it’s definitely not 100%.
In other words, it’s not guaranteed that…