Can Your New Blog Compete with other Authority Blogs in Your Niche?
For a while now, I’ve been brooding on ways that a new blogger can compete against authority blogs and actually win sustainable traffic to your blog.
It’s been two long weeks and over 84 hours collating the views of thought leaders and seasoned bloggers from literally every space of this noisy web. I’ve scoured more than 6 social media platforms, listened to more than 10 podcasts, and read more than 30,000 words to create this summary on how a new website can compete against authority websites in a niche.
I bet every new blogger struggles with how they can rank quickly on search engines, and you my friend, are just about to find out.
Authority websites, as the name suggests, always rank at the top of search engines for the basic reason that they have established “authority” through actively performing certain tasks such as creating quality content and building links over time. Unlike your newly found blog, these authority websites already have millions of backlinks, thousands of pieces of content, and a consistent stream of online visitors.
How do you, a novice blogger with limited capacity, resources, and experience compete against dominating authority websites?
First of all, and thankfully so, SEO is no longer about volumes only. It’s not about who has been on the web longer, or with more links. Rather, SEO has a lot to do with who gets to solve a search engine’s biggest mandate… and that is completing/ satisfying the user intent.
In itself, the idea that a search engine’s sole mandate is to end a user’s intent is epiphanic and eye-opening in very many ways. This, however, isn’t our focus today.
While the volume of content, backlinks, and content are not the only things to help you rank- they are certainly important and you can’t wish them away for now.
Our focus here is finding out how you as a new blogger can compete against authority websites. So, let’s dive deep into the findings of my research.
- Specialize in a Niche
While many new bloggers want to focus on a broad category of topics that they are comfortable in, the first key step to winning against authority websites is going narrow into a niche.
For new bloggers, niching down helps you get to focus on one particular topic and go deep into it. This works much better, compared to spreading thinly on a variety of topics.
With a niche, you get to build some level of depth in your particular topic, and the chances of succeeding in competing against authority blogs increase exponentially.
While authority websites gain a lot of traffic from their high volume keywords, there are lots of niched medium and low volume keywords that fall through their cracks. These niched searches are uneconomical for the authority sites to rank for. However, they are a great and sufficient traffic resource for new bloggers.
- Rank for Long Tail Keywords
Unlike the general short keyword phrases that large authority websites rank for, a new website is definitely going to have a better chance at ranking for long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are a type of very specific search queries that have a more targeted/ niched audience. Rather than gaining minimal relevance in a large crowd of traffic, long term keywords grant you maximum relevance in a topic with small volumes of traffic.
Long-tail keywords if targeted will help you rank and satisfy the intent of search engine users who need a more specific result to a search question.
In the end, while you certainly couldn’t have won traffic on the generalized short terms that have higher search volumes, you get to gain traffic from a category of users who need specific answers to their specific queries.
Great thing is, long-tail keywords are easier to optimize for ranking and do not require high off-page investments to rank, compared to competitive short keywords and phrases.
- Leverage Localization For Optimization
Going for a local audience, even if your end goal is to target the national/ international audience- certainly helps you to grow fast and gain more authority.
Local search is becoming more relevant and ranking for queries from your locality is easier than ranking for national/ international queries. This is especially important if your blog is part of a business that serves your local residents.
While authority sites are busy going for the high volume keywords that serve the needs of national and international users, chances are that many local users with the same intent are looking for a localized response to the query.
For example, while an authority site is aiming to rank for the keyword “iPhone repair”, a new website could compete for some part of the traffic by aiming to rank for “iPhone repair in Denver, CO”.
- Personalizing Your Audience Interactions And Grow Into an Authoritative Content Creator
Most of the new bloggers feel the need to represent a huge and often unreal image of themselves. However, most of the seasoned bloggers I interviewed shared that there is a huge benefit of being “you” for your new blog.
While authority websites have an established brand that collects several represenatives, being you could be a great and effective strategy for drawing a loyal following by focusing on your personal brand.
Loyal following grows where personality is present for those who follow you, to interact with. Authoritative websites seem to have it all figured, with their end goal of profitability very clear.
However, for a new blogger with minimal resources, you are far much better at building a liking and following for your new blog- which is certainly going to give leverage in competing against competitor authority websites.
Of course, the vehicle for building a liking and loyalty will be through personable content that relates to and solves your audience’s problems. Gaining a following on social media will help you boost content engagement massively and will have a ripple effect on your rankings on search engines.
To build your personal brand through content, you will need a content strategy to help you manage time. As a new blogger remaining consistent and productive is your priority.
- Reverse-engineer Your Competitor’s Backlink Profile
When asked what they would do differently if they started their blogging journey again, most seasoned bloggers say it’s building backlinks to their blog and content.
Seasoned bloggers such as Adam Enfroy, Mike Pearson, Tracy Fobbs, and Debbie Gartner recommend link building for your new blog. And they recommend it for quite an important reason… Backlinking is an important trust index for search engines, and which gives you an immense boost in growing your website authority and rankings.
Reverse engineering your competitors’ backlinks to understand and attempt to replicate their backlink profile has a lot to do with knowing where to “buy the gas that accelerates the authority and growth of their websites.”
Knowing your competitors
Competitor analysis is your first step in link building. Chances are, there are already several authority websites in any specific niche. So, the first step is to identify your competitors. Here are some tips that will help you know how this is done.
Step 1: Identifying websites in your niche. You can do this by simply looking for the main keyword in your niche in Google and finding out the websites that rank for that keyword.
For example, if you are in the furniture renovation niche, google “Furniture renovation blog”.
You can also google “list of blogs” plus your keyword. For example “List of Furniture furniture renovation blogs and websites’.
Step 2: Use Google Search Operator. This is a simple and neat technique of using a Google Search Operator. All you need to do is search “related:yoursite.com” to see the results.
The results displayed are websites that relate topically to your website used in the search query.
NOTE: The search operator only works on websites with a proportionate amount of traffic. You can instead use any big competitor that you know to find other competitors.
Link building and all of it’s related activities is considered as the work-in-the-trenches that every blogger has to put up with, to fire up their ranking and success. Tools such as LinkMiner can help in making this process easy.
Get a Link Miner free 10-day trial account and spy on up to 500 backlinks every 24 hours.
- Domain competitors
Domain competitors are the websites that compete in the same niche as you. Their backlink profile can reveal numerous opportunities for backlinking opportunities
- Page competitors
Page competition happens on a page level and is different from domain competition. If you wrote an article on “the best plumbers in Denver”, there are other articles ranking for the same keyword.
Get the first result and run the URL through LinkMiner to check out the backlinks pointing to that blogpost. You can then check for backlinks that look interesting to you and add them to a list.
What to Consider When Evaluating Your Competitors Backlinks
The strength of the link- Link strength measures the power of a backlink on the basis of the authority of that website. If a link comes from an authoritative website, then that link passes more authority onto your website.
NOTE: Only check for do-follow links as they are the only links that pass authority.
Link Relevance- Always check the linking page of a backlink to ensure that it’s relevant to your topic. Irrelevant backlinks don’t have any value. Valuable backlinks are in the body of the text. Backlinks in footers, sidebars, and author bio are no longer effective in passing authority.
Once you select backlinks that are strong, relevant, and well-placed from your competitor, the next step is replication.
How does this happen? Through the good-old (seemingly tedious and unpleasant) email outreach.
You will contact the websites owners or the authors of these posts where your competitors gain their backlinks from and request them to;
- Link to your website rather than the website of your visitors: In your blogging journey, you will hear other bloggers and webmasters referring to this method as the “Skyscraper Technique”, a term coined by Brian Dean.
- Add your article/ website as an additional resource next to your competitor.
Of course, you will have to prove that your website/ resource is a better resource compared to that of your competitor.
You can create a better and more link-worthy article compared to that of your competitor by; Making more in-depth content that is longer, better, and with updated information.
Doing email outreach is altogether another topic that needs your full attention if you want to lowball your competitors and gain more traffic to your content. I suggest you read XYZ’s article on how to do email outreach for info resources.
Please note that link building is a proven pivotal ranking effort that pays off in the end. It’s totally worth it as it gives a considerable boost in your rankings and traffic.
Focusing on the BIG picture
Single Grain founder Eric SIu recommends that you focus on the big picture when it comes to punching your competitors in the face. Search engine optimization isn’t just about mining backlinks and hitting keywords anymore.
It’s about the whole SEO picture of grasping everything that sets your content apart. It’s about making your content insanely valuable to the readers and enjoying the benefits of your hard work.
The web is crowded and it’s not fun to dig hard for the great stuff. While research suggests that 75% of search engine users don’t go beyond the first page, it’s important for every new blogger to focus on the big picture.
Your competitors are literally doing everything that you don’t do. And they are reaping big out of it. Falling behind in focusing fully on SEO only means one thing for you- a slow death to your dreams and visions.
Protecting Your SEO Strategy
This is a key risk management strategy that can help you remain standing when algorithm updates hit your competitors hard. White hat SEO is one of the most time consuming and costly SEO strategies to use. However, its benefits outweigh the risks 100:1. It doesn’t help much in the short term, but it assures you of long-term success if you stay on course.
Short-term black hat and grey hat SEO strategies only help up to a point when search engines change their algorithm and improve to reward the websites that do things the right way. Stay focused on content marketing, brand building, and link building strategies that are in line with search engine policy. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before Google catches up and knocks you off to the abyss. You’ll have to start from scratch or keep up with doing things that aren’t sustainable for your blog- which isn’t a great business model.
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