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5 Ways You Can Really Steal Organic Clicks from Industry Giants



5 ways you can really steal organic clicks from industry giants via helenpollitt1

The giants of fairy-tales have three things going for them: strength, resources, and infamy.

In a similar way, our industry giants often dominate the searches due to the strength of their team, the resources of a large budget, and their brand fame.

A household name, a large team of experts, and a budget to rival the plunder of a fantasy kingdom, isn’t a luxury we all have as search marketers.

So how do you stand out from the crowd in a marketplace dominated by industry giants with resources out of your reach?

We are going to explore ways to win organic clicks and conversions away from the big, established players in your space while working with budgets a fraction of theirs.

In just five steps, I’m going to show you how you can prepare your website to bring down the giants.


1. Look for Their Weaknesses

The first step in competing against the dominant brands is assessing where they have weaknesses.

Content Gap Analysis

Start with a content audit. Using a tool like Ahrefs, you get an understanding of what keywords you are ranking for, which they are not.

In Ahrefs you can enter your domain and a couple of the sites of competitors who are also in the top 5 organic search results into the “Content Gap” feature and compare it with the number one player in your industry.

This will show you which keywords you and your competitors are ranking for which the giant is not. This gives you an idea of where your competitive edge is.

For example, I have chosen the industry “wooden sheds” and entered two websites and the brand I am keen on improving.

If the giant I’m wishing to take down is Homebase, a large home improvement and gardening store here in the UK, then I can see that the keywords they are not ranking for, but some or all of the smaller brands are.


This gives me an idea that I can compete more easily for terms such as “potting shed” and “playhouses”, both with a high monthly search volume but not something the giant is currently targeting.

Screenshot from Ahrefs Content Gap report

Screenshot from Ahrefs’ “Content Gap” report

Content Format Gaps

The other aspect you should be looking at in your content gap analysis is the formats of content that are not being utilized by your heavyweight competitor.

Whatever your industry there is always the scope to go outside of the standard “text on a page” template for your site.

Diagrams, videos, and audio files all increase the ways your website can be found through search. You can easily use a crawler to search the code of a site for the indicators that it is using formats such as PDFs and even videos.

For more detail on how to use a web crawler and custom extraction to identify types of content on a page, such as YouTube iframes, take a look at Screaming Frog’s guide to web scraping and data extraction.


Once you have an idea of what content your competitors are not using you can start to take advantage of that gap.

For instance, producing video guides to explain how to set up the technical products you are both selling, or the audio explanation of complicated medical topics could give you that edge in usability and conversion.

Make a Display of Strength

Improving how your content is displayed in the search results can be an easy shot to take against a behemoth competitor.

Oftentimes, due to the sheer volume of products or pages on a site, they rely on templated page titles and descriptions rather than having the time or facility to craft them all by hand. Use that to your advantage.

Writing a compelling meta description to encourage click-through might seem like a fundamental of SEO.

Up against the likes of Amazon, however, whose inventory is in the millions, it can cause you to get the click even if you aren’t out-ranking them.


Mark up Your Unique Content

The best way to maximize the effectiveness of the content types you are utilizing that your competitors aren’t, is by using schema markup.

This will enable some search engines to pull through this information and display it in the SERPs in a more appealing way than a standard search result.

For example, if you choose to use videos on your site you can mark them up in such a way that Google can use them to populate the video carousel, a spot in the SERPs that is reserved purely for videos.

Even if your giant has great written copy that answers a user’s question it will not be able to outrank the video you created that visually answers their query.

Aim for Featured Snippets

The holy grail of search results, the featured snippet, evens the playing field when it comes to search rankings.

No matter if your site is not ranking in first position for a search query, you are still eligible to appear in the “position 0” placement if your content best answers the user’s search.


Studying the search results related to your industry can allow you to see when featured snippets are appearing and what is the content currently populating this area.

Google’s John Mueller has shared some details on how to rank for featured snippets.

Use Your Other Resources

If you are lucky enough to have access to paid search accounts for your brand then make sure you are using the data gathered from them. Analyze the converting terms that are relevant to the campaign you are running.

Larger brands may well find their teams working in silos, or even outsourcing elements of their campaigns to different agencies which means the cross-channel insight is harder to come by. Use this to your advantage.

2. Be Quick & Nimble

Juggernauts are intimidating, but they are also slow. The benefit of a small company or agency is the speed in which you can pivot.

If a campaign is not effective, getting sign-off to learn from it and try something new is not as much of a bureaucracy-laced endeavor as with a large brand.


Quick to React to New Opportunities

Many enterprise businesses have several layers of authorization required to make the smallest change.

Being able to adapt quickly to a change in the market or capitalize on a new audience gives your SEO team the edge.

Keeping an eye on what is performing well on social media can help you to ride the wave of an emerging trend.

This kind of adaptation is often out of reach for larger brands who are beholden to strict marketing and content plans that cannot be deviated from easily.

Through your understanding of market trends and the ability to move swiftly, you can create content for digital PR purposes a lot quicker than a team that is on a strict content plan.

Make Changes Swiftly

An extensive development queue is frequently a barrier to getting changes implemented to a website quickly.


Often, there are other priority tasks your in-house or agency developers are focusing their time on. Multiply this delay by ten for an enterprise site.

Being able to talk to your developers and ask them about priorities is a huge benefit that comes from working in a smaller company.

You may still be outsourcing your development work, but chances are you have a direct dial to a member of their development team or your account manager rather than having to submit a request and escalate it through slower, more official channels.

Make sure you take advantage of this closer working relationship by:

  • Discussing your needs with your development team.
  • Educating them on the importance of SEO, if it’s an area they are not familiar with.

3. Identify Your Secret Weapon

Your secret weapon against strong competitors is likely going to come out of your ability to focus your time and efforts where they cannot.

Stay Local

In some instances, this could be within a local community.

If your business serves people from a physical location, you are far better placed to rank for queries with a local intent than a purely ecommerce site.


If your large competitors also have brick-and-mortar stores but not in a location near yours, then your niche will be your local area.

Your small business that is in the heart of a community will be able to gain relevant local links from charities, sports clubs and community events in that area far easier than a large multinational corporation.

If you have a handful of shops across a small area, you are more likely to be able to spend time building relationships with local contacts than a centralized SEO team for a company that has hundreds of locations to cover.

Highlight Skills & Expertise

Another great way of differentiating your client or your company from larger competitors is by using its staff to build authority for your site.

The chances of the CEO of a company that has 100 employees being open to working with you to secure local media coverage is higher than one who is overseeing a 10,000-strong company and not even resident in the country you are optimizing the site for.

Expertise within the brand you are trying to promote will be more accessible within a smaller organization than it would be within a massive one.


Get to know the experts within your brand and start looking for opportunities for them to contribute to digital PR efforts.

Data that has been produced through their research or their expert opinion on a topical subject will go far in promoting the website as a source of authoritative information within the industry.

Keep the Battle Small

One of the key points to remember in taking on a giant is that you are only going to be able to beat them in certain conditions.

For example, you have no hope (or need) to beat Amazon in the SERPs for “cheap pillow cases” if you are a retailer of luxury perfume.

It is key to look at the few pages within their site which are actually competing against your website and identify how you can outrank those.

It may be that you can earn better, more relevant links to your product pages than your big competitor can purely because they have more products so their team’s time will be spread more thinly than yours.


Be Bold

One weakness larger brands have is very tight brand guidelines and sign-off procedures that stop innovation from occurring.

As a smaller brand, you have the opportunity to be bolder in your marketing.

Whether this takes the form of irreverent calls to action in your meta descriptions or taking a swipe at the competitor through a comparison article, you have the option to make an impact where a larger brand is wrapped in red-tape.

4. Develop Your Battle Plan

The key to winning any fight in the SERPs is having a great strategy.

In the case of fighting industry giants, it is imperative that you are developing a battle plan that capitalizes on their weaknesses we’ve already discussed.

Add the Value They Can’t

In many cases, this includes answering the queries they are not. This will likely be long-tail searches that require in-depth research.


A great source of material to start your long-tail strategy off is user forums.

Subreddits can be a gold mine of information on the sorts of questions users want answers to but cannot find an answer to online.

Through sites like this, Quora and Answer The Public, it’s possible to build up a picture of what your target audience is interested in but don’t necessarily have access to.

Use this to create content that engages your target audience in a way that your competitors aren’t.

Bring the Fight to Your Battlefield

It might be that the players dominating the industry on Google are not as hot in other search engines, or indeed, are neglecting other channels altogether.

A key question to ask is, are you ranking in the right search engines?


For instance, it may be that due to their lack of video content that you identified through your content gap analysis they are not visible on YouTube at all.

Is this a channel that you can exploit further? Don’t fall into the trap of only fighting them on one front.

Consider more industry-specific search engines, like TripAdvisor, is this a more level playing field for you to thrive in?

By looking outside of your primary search engine you can open up another line of attack that might not be where their efforts are focused.

5. If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Another option is that if your industry behemoth is actually a marketplace or reseller, like Amazon, it may be a good move for your brand to start selling through them.

This sort of decision is usually outside the purview of a digital marketer, especially if you are working within an agency, rather than in-house.


However, it may be within your remit to make recommendations and use the data you are gathering as part of your reports to encourage this to be considered.

For brands that aren’t ecommerce, another option is to piggyback off the success of your industry competitor and look at partnering with them.

Can you write for their blog so you are getting traffic through referrals from their site and raising your profile with their audience?

For instance, sites in the UK targeting medical information terms such as “eczema treatment” will likely find themselves outranked by the National Health Service (NHS). However, this site does link out to reputable, authoritative websites that may give more specialized advice than they do.

If you stop looking at links as only being there to boost your backlink profile and see them as avenues to raise your profile with your audience, then you could find traffic and engagement rising drastically.


It isn’t impossible to steal organic traffic from the big players in your industry. It’s just daunting.


Put together a robust plan of attack and you should be able to start chipping away at their organic traffic and building up your own.

Soon, you might find you start to level out in size.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, August 2019

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Top Priorities, Challenges, And Opportunities




Top Priorities, Challenges, And Opportunities

The world of search has seen massive change recently. Whether you’re still in the planning stages for this year or underway with your 2024 strategy, you need to know the new SEO trends to stay ahead of seismic search industry shifts.

It’s time to chart a course for SEO success in this changing landscape.

Watch this on-demand webinar as we explore exclusive survey data from today’s top SEO professionals and digital marketers to inform your strategy this year. You’ll also learn how to navigate SEO in the era of AI, and how to gain an advantage with these new tools.

You’ll hear:

  • The top SEO priorities and challenges for 2024.
  • The role of AI in SEO – how to get ahead of the anticipated disruption of SGE and AI overall, plus SGE-specific SEO priorities.
  • Winning SEO resourcing strategies and reporting insights to fuel success.

With Shannon Vize and Ryan Maloney, we’ll take a deep dive into the top trends, priorities, and challenges shaping the future of SEO.

Discover timely insights and unlock new SEO growth potential in 2024.


View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

10 Successful Ways To Improve Your SERP Rankings [With Ahrefs]

Reserve your spot and discover 10 quick and easy SEO wins to boost your site’s rankings.

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E-E-A-T’s Google Ranking Influence Decoded




E-E-A-T's Google Ranking Influence Decoded

The idea that something is not a ranking factor that nevertheless plays a role in ranking websites seems to be logically irreconcilable. Despite seeming like a paradox that cancels itself out, SearchLiaison recently tweeted some comments that go a long way to understanding how to think about E-E-A-T and apply it to SEO.

What A Googler Said About E-E-A-T

Marie Haynes published a video excerpt on YouTube from an event at which a Googler spoke, essentially doubling down on the importance of E-A-T.

This is what he said:

“You know this hasn’t always been there in Google and it’s something that we developed about ten to twelve or thirteen years ago. And it really is there to make sure that along the lines of what we talked about earlier is that it really is there to ensure that the content that people consume is going to be… it’s not going to be harmful and it’s going to be useful to the user. These are principles that we live by every single day.

And E-A-T, that template of how we rate an individual site based off of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, we do it to every single query and every single result. So it’s actually very pervasive throughout everything that we do .

I will say that the YMYL queries, the Your Money or Your Life Queries, such as you know when I’m looking for a mortgage or when I’m looking for the local ER,  those we have a particular eye on and we pay a bit more attention to those queries because clearly they’re some of the most important decisions that people can make.


So I would say that E-A-T has a bit more of an impact there but again, I will say that E-A-T applies to everything, every single query that we actually look at.”

How can something be a part of every single search query and not be a ranking factor, right?

Background, Experience & Expertise In Google Circa 2012

Something to consider is that in 2012 Google’s senior engineer at the time, Matt Cutts, said that experience and expertise brings a measure of quality to content and makes it worthy of ranking.

Matt Cutts’ remarks on experience and expertise were made in an interview with Eric Enge.

Discussing whether the website of a hypothetical person named “Jane” deserves to rank with articles that are original variations of what’s already in the SERPs.

Matt Cutts observed:


“While they’re not duplicates they bring nothing new to the table.

Google would seek to detect that there is no real differentiation between these results and show only one of them so we could offer users different types of sites in the other search results.

They need to ask themselves what really is their value add? …they need to figure out what… makes them special.

…if Jane is just churning out 500 words about a topic where she doesn’t have any background, experience or expertise, a searcher might not be as interested in her opinion.”

Matt then cites the example of Pulitzer Prize-Winning movie reviewer Roger Ebert as a person with the background, experience and expertise that makes his opinion valuable to readers and the content worthy of ranking.

Matt didn’t say that a webpage author’s background, experience and expertise were ranking factors. But he did say that these are the kinds of things that can differentiate one webpage from another and align it to what Google wants to rank.

He specifically said that Google’s algorithm detects if there is something different about it that makes it stand out. That was in 2012 but not much has changed because Google’s John Mueller says the same thing.


For example, in 2020 John Mueller said that differentiation and being compelling is important for getting Google to notice and rank a webpage.

“So with that in mind, if you’re focused on kind of this small amount of content that is the same as everyone else then I would try to find ways to significantly differentiate yourselves to really make it clear that what you have on your website is significantly different than all of those other millions of ringtone websites that have kind of the same content.

…And that’s the same recommendation I would have for any kind of website that offers essentially the same thing as lots of other web sites do.

You really need to make sure that what you’re providing is unique and compelling and high quality so that our systems and users in general will say, I want to go to this particular website because they offer me something that is unique on the web and I don’t just want to go to any random other website.”

In 2021, in regard to getting Google to index a webpage, Mueller also said:

“Is it something the web has been waiting for? Or is it just another red widget?”

This thing about being compelling and different than other sites, it’s something that’s been a part of Google’s algorithm awhile, just like the Googler in the video said, just like Matt Cutts said and exactly like what Mueller has said as well.

Are they talking about signals?


E-EA-T Algorithm Signals

We know there’s something in the algorithm that relates to someone’s expertise and background that Google’s looking for. The table is set and we can dig into the next step of what it all means.

A while back back I remember reading something that Marie Haynes said about E-A-T, she called it a framework. And I thought, now that’s an interesting thing she just did, she’s conceptualizing E-A-T.

When SEOs discussed E-A-T it was always in the context of what to do in order to demonstrate E-A-T. So they looked at the Quality Raters Guide for guidance, which kind of makes sense since it’s a guide, right?

But what I’m proposing is that the answer isn’t really in the guidelines or anything that the quality raters are looking for.

The best way to explain it is to ask you to think about the biggest part of Google’s algorithm, relevance.

What’s relevance? Is it something you have to do? It used to be about keywords and that’s easy for SEOs to understand. But it’s not about keywords anymore because Google’s algorithm has natural language understanding (NLU). NLU is what enables machines to understand language in the way that it’s actually spoken (natural language).


So, relevance is just something that’s related or connected to something else. So, if I ask, how do I satiate my thirst? The answer can be water, because water quenches the thirst.

How is a site relevant to the search query: “how do I satiate my thirst?”

An SEO would answer the problem of relevance by saying that the webpage has to have the keywords that match the search query, which would be the words “satiate” and “thirst.”

The next step the SEO would take is to extract the related entities for “satiate” and “thirst” because every SEO “knows” they need to do entity research to understand how to make a webpage that answers the search query, “How do I satiate my thirst?”

Hypothetical Related entities:

  • Thirst: Water, dehydration, drink,
  • Satiate: Food, satisfaction, quench, fulfillment, appease

Now that the SEO has their entities and their keywords they put it all together and write a 600 word essay that uses all their keywords and entities so that their webpage is relevant for the search query, “How do I satiate my thirst?”

I think we can stop now and see how silly that is, right? If someone asked you, “How do I satiate my thirst?” You’d answer, “With water” or “a cold refreshing beer” because that’s what it means to be relevant.


Relevance is just a concept. It doesn’t have anything to do with entities or keywords in today’s search algorithms because the machine is understanding search queries as natural language, even more so with AI search engines.

Similarly, E-E-A-T is also just a concept. It doesn’t have anything to do with author bios, LinkedIn profiles, it doesn’t have anything at all to do with making your content say that you handled the product that’s being reviewed.

Here’s what SearchLiaison recently said about an E-E-A-T, SEO and Ranking:

“….just making a claim and talking about a ‘rigorous testing process’ and following an ‘E-E-A-T checklist’ doesn’t guarantee a top ranking or somehow automatically cause a page to do better.”

Here’s the part where SearchLiaison ties a bow around the gift of E-E-A-T knowledge:

“We talk about E-E-A-T because it’s a concept that aligns with how we try to rank good content.”

E-E-A-T Can’t Be Itemized On A Checklist

Remember how we established that relevance is a concept and not a bunch of keywords and entities? Relevance is just answering the question.

E-E-A-T is the same thing. It’s not something that you do. It’s closer to something that you are.


SearchLiaison elaborated:

“…our automated systems don’t look at a page and see a claim like “I tested this!” and think it’s better just because of that. Rather, the things we talk about with E-E-A-T are related to what people find useful in content. Doing things generally for people is what our automated systems seek to reward, using different signals.”

A Better Understanding Of E-E-A-T

I think it’s clear now how E-E-A-T isn’t something that’s added to a webpage or is something that is demonstrated on the webpage. It’s a concept, just like relevance.

A good way to think o fit is if someone asks you a question about your family and you answer it. Most people are pretty expert and experienced enough to answer that question. That’s what E-E-A-T is and how it should be treated when publishing content, regardless if it’s YMYL content or a product review, the expertise is just like answering a question about your family, it’s just a concept.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi

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Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result




Google Announces A New Carousel Rich Result

Google announced a new carousel rich result that can be used for local businesses, products, and events which will show a scrolling horizontal carousel displaying all of the items in the list. It’s very flexible and can even be used to create a top things to do in a city list that combines hotels, restaurants, and events. This new feature is in beta, which means it’s being tested.

The new carousel rich result is for displaying lists in a carousel format. According to the announcement the rich results is limited to the following types:

LocalBusiness and its subtypes, for example:
– Restaurant
– Hotel
– VacationRental
– Product
– Event

An example of subtypes is Lodgings, which is a subset of LocalBusiness.

Here is the hierarchical structure that shows the LodgingBusiness type as being a subset of the LocalBusiness type.

  • Thing > Organization > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness
  • Thing > Place > LocalBusiness > LodgingBusiness

ItemList Structured Data

The carousel displays “tiles” that contain information from the webpage that’s about the price, ratings and images. The order of what’s in the ItemList structured data is the order that they will be displayed in the carousel.


Publishers must use the ItemList structured data in order to become eligible for the new rich result

All information in the ItemList structured data must be on the webpage. Just like any other structured data, you can’t stuff the structured data with information that is not visible on the webpage itself.

There are two important rules when using this structured data:

  1. 1. The ItemList type must be the top level container for the structured data.
  2. 2. All the URLs of in the list must point to different webpages on the same domain.

The part about the ItemList being the top level container means that the structured data cannot be merged together with another structured data where the top-level container is something other than ItemList.

For example, the structured data must begin like this:

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1,

A useful quality of this new carousel rich result is that publishers can mix and match the different entities as long as they’re within the eligible structured data types.

Eligible Structured Data Types

  • LocalBusiness and its subtypes
  • Product
  • Event

Google’s announcement explains how to mix and match the different structured data types:

“You can mix and match different types of entities (for example, hotels, restaurants), if needed for your scenario. For example, if you have a page that has both local events and local businesses.”

Here is an example of a ListItem structured data that can be used in a webpage about Things To Do In Paris.

The following structured data is for two events and a local business (the Eiffel Tower):

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@type": "Event", "name": "Paris Seine River Dinner Cruise", "image": [ "", "", "" ], "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "price": 45.00, "priceCurrency": "EUR" }, "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.2, "reviewCount": 690 }, "url": "" } }, { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 2, "item": { "@type": "LocalBusiness", "name": "Notre-Dame Cathedral", "image": [ "", "", "" ], "priceRange": "$", "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.8, "reviewCount": 4220 }, "url": "" } }, { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 3, "item": { "@type": "Event", "name": "Eiffel Tower With Host Summit Tour", "image": [ "", "", "" ], "offers": { "@type": "Offer", "price": 59.00, "priceCurrency": "EUR" }, "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": 4.9, "reviewCount": 652 }, "url": "" } } ] } </script>

Be As Specific As Possible

Google’s guidelines recommends being as specific as possible but that if there isn’t a structured data type that closely matches with the type of business then it’s okay to use the more generic LocalBusiness structured data type.

“Depending on your scenario, you may choose the best type to use. For example, if you have a list of hotels and vacation rentals on your page, use both Hotel and VacationRental types. While it’s ideal to use the type that’s closest to your scenario, you can choose to use a more generic type (for example, LocalBusiness).”

Can Be Used For Products

A super interesting use case for this structured data is for displaying a list of products in a carousel rich result.


The structured data for that begins as a ItemList structured data type like this:

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "ItemList", "itemListElement": [ { "@type": "ListItem", "position": 1, "item": { "@type": "Product",

The structured data can list images, ratings, reviewCount, and currency just like any other product listing, but doing it like this will make the webpage eligible for the carousel rich results.

Google has a list of recommended recommended properties that can be used with the Products version, such as offers, offers.highPrice, and offers.lowPrice.

Good For Local Businesses and Merchants

This new structured data is a good opportunity for local businesses and publishers that list events, restaurants and lodgings to get in on a new kind of rich result.

Using this structured data doesn’t guarantee that it will display as a rich result, it only makes it eligible for it.

This new feature is in beta, meaning that it’s a test.


Read the new developer page for this new rich result type:

Structured data carousels (beta)

Featured Image by Shutterstock/RYO Alexandre

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