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Difficult would not even suffice to describe how hard it is to outrank websites that create comparisons and lists on a specific topic. For most, competing with comparison sites for the top spot in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) may sound like an impossibility, but I am here to tell you that it’s not as impossible as you might think. It might feel as though you can never outrank these kinds of websites, but that is not always the case.
On the other hand, ranking for the top spot against comparison websites is undoubtedly one of the hardest things a lot of SEO practitioners would face in their careers. What I mean by ranking against comparison websites is that you will try your hardest to rank for a specific search query or researched keyword that has a plural comparative intent behind it.
If you are having trouble understanding what I mean by comparison sites, here are some examples that can help you:
Let’s say you are trying to rank for the keywords “iPhone Arcade Games” because you just came up with a brand new arcade game for the iOS. However, when you input “iPhone arcade games” in the search box, you’ll automatically see the Techradar, Mashable, iMore, CNET, and much more. These are your competitors and they can be considered as comparison websites.
Another example would be when you have a new action movie and you want it to be visible in the search results for the keyword “Best action movie” you will be going up against some major websites. Some of them would be IMDB, Rottentomatoes, Ranker, Complex, and much more. These sites are also in the niche of comparing movies and other cinematic works.
For the last example, If you want to rank for “best restaurant in Paranaque” and you are an owner of a restaurant in Paranaque, it would be difficult for you to outrank Zomato, Tripadvisor, Phonebooky, and much more. It’s almost a comparative website at the top spot almost all the time.
Identifying the Problem
So, what do you do to get that top spot? It’s easy. Always identify the problem on why is it that these type of sites have continuously outperformed their competitors. Although this is not absolute, it’s close enough. So, what are the problems that you’ll face?
- Not Using the Correct Words and Phrases
If you’re an owner of a restaurant in Paranaque, you might want to not use words such as Mama Lou’s or Sensei Sushi Bar or some other words that are terms owned by your competitors. Aside from legal issues, it might also be an issue for brand guidelines. This could lead to a difficult problem too hard for you to solve.
- Trouble with the Searcher’s Intent
In the examples I have mentioned above, the general intent in them is to compare multiple things. So, if you have an individual movie, restaurant, or iOS game, it is basically not answering the searcher’s intent. Historically, it used to be easier, however, ever since the introduction of Rankbrain and Hummingbird, which improved the search engine’s understanding of a context. But, our time now makes it exceedingly challenging.
- Hard to earn links
When you’re purely releasing content out of promotion or self-interest, then you are just one brand trying to outrank these less selfish websites. These comparison websites could be understood as going along the lines of selflessness which enables them to have an easier time in earning organic links.
These issues are what I will address in today’s article.
- Separate Your Blog or Editorial Content
You could approach this in two ways. You could either opt for a separate domain or you could editorially separate it. If you opt for a separate domain, it will be hard because you will not be able to transfer the domain authority of the old one, and it will be a new domain so, it will be challenging – to say the least. Editorially separating it means that you will segment the promotional content. This will help you rank for these kinds of queries because, basically, you will have some sort of editorial independence in your content.
- Guest Posting/Contribution
If you can approach top ranking websites that are independent, editorial, and media-driven, then convince them that you are an independent author that has done thorough research and is not biased, you might have a chance to improve your rankings. If you earn links from these top ranking websites, then it might cause some sort of domino effect and can help you in approaching other top ranking websites because you have proven yourself as a contributor that is unbiased and thorough.
- Employ Independent Research
You might have noticed that this is something that numerous large companies do. They hire an independent research firm, then ask them to do some research on a particular topic or field. After the research has finished, it might be something that the press will notice. These press websites will be the ones that you will earn the rankings from.
I know that some of your are not comparable to these large companies that have exorbitant research budgets, well, in all honesty, you don’t have to be. You can already ask a single independent researcher, someone you could trust, and ask them to do some research a certain topic that is related to your niche. If this will be noticed by press websites, then you have been extremely successful in this regard.
- Use a Microsite
If you want to do the research yourself, but for some reason, you do not want to keep it on your own site, then you can opt for a microsite instead. Hopefully, the microsite will perform well in the search results, and more often than not, this strategy works.
- Win the Lists.
Going against these already successful websites will be hard – to say the least – but there is actually a loophole in this online competition. If all your efforts are in vain, and you can’t really overtake the top performing websites, then just win their lists.
If you have a new iPhone arcade game, then make it the best one yet – that will get you to numerous lists. If you are trying to rank for the “best action movie” then make sure that it will be as famous as Die Hard. For the restaurant in Paranaque, make sure that your food and fame is comparable to Mama Lou’s or Sensei Sushi.
By winning the lists prepared by the top performing websites, then you will be saving yourself from a lot of trouble, BUT you have to put in the as much effort as you can in the production of these kinds of things.
There will always be some clues that you can find inside the SERPs, and from there you will know where to go. The most difficult part in this aspect is this is not as simple as marketing, SEO, or content generation. It has everything to do with the quality of your product, your brand name, your position in the SERPs, and your overall website.
This article serves as your source of strategies – which is minimal on the internet – and as hard as this may sound, but competing against comparison websites for some keywords that have a plural comparative search intent is not IMPOSSIBLE.
Do you know any other strategies for this problem? Let me know in the comments below and let’s help each other out.