One of the lowest hanging fruits in SEO is to create content for “alternative” and “versus” queries. Some brands take it a step further and rank for use cases of their competitors. In this article, I highlight 3 examples of brands that are doing this really well for your inspiration.
Back when I worked at Atlassian, there was one move from our competitor Zendesk that put us in awe: the Zendesk Alternatives.
Zendesk went out to create a fictional band called “The Zendesk Alternatives” to rank for the query “zendesk alternative”. Crazy but it worked.
They created the site, a video, a Twitter account, and even a MySpace account (yep, that’s how old it is).
The effort paid off. The screenshot below is from 2017 and shows that the site still ranked #1 for “zendesk alternative” at the time.
Even today, it’s on #2 (see screenshot below), which is rare to see because Google interprets the user intent for “alternative” queries in a way that prefers review sites (like G2).
Aaaah, the good ‘ol hacky days.
Does competitor SEO still work?
The short answer is “yes”. You should have to be smart about it.
To take a step back, “competitor SEO” describes the art and science of ranking for
- “alternative queries”, e.g. “zendesk alternativ”
- “versus queries”, e.g. “salesforce vs. hubspot”
- competitor documentation
Ranking for such queries is so incredibly powerful because you catch customers in two central points in their user journey. The first is when they’re a customer of one of your competitors and you want to persuade them to become your customer instead. The second point is when a prospect evaluates your product against a competitor and you want to steer their choice in your favor.
Either way, you address users at the very end of their buyer’s journey and that’s where you want to be the most present. If you do nothing else, do this because you build a funnel or content strategy from the ground up. Once you got your competitor SEO strategy in place, you can create more content for earlier parts of the buyer’s journey (what used to be MOFU and TOFU).
So, let’s dive in to 3 example of brands that are killing it in competitor SEO
Example 1: Filmora
Wondershare Filmora is a software company for video editing software and they’re going up against a big incumbent: Adobe.
Adobe Premiere Pro is the #1 competitor product for Wondershare but they have a clever strategy to gain customers: attacking Adobe’s documentation.
Adobe Premiere’s product documentation is… thin and complicated at best. Filmora identified that gap and created how-to content for specific problems in Premiere Pro.
This page has 0 backlinks (yes, zero) but ranks for > 160 keywords.
And yet, they rank for all sorts of keywords that Adobe should be ranking for but doesn’t.
Filmora add not only several CTAs for their own product throughout their competitor articles but also videos on how to do it in their own product.
Filmora created a whole content hub with many of such competitor tutorials under filmora.wondershare.com/adobe-premiere/, which ranks for over 8K keywords (see screenshot below)!
Example 2: Convertkit
Convertkit did an interesting thing with competitor SEO: they created a blog article about why you shouldn’t switch from Mailchimp to Convertkit.
This is not reverse psychology but rather a play on reverse value, i.e. do you not want something better?
But what I like about this strategy is that ConvertKit ranks with 2 pages for “Mailchimp vs. convertkit” (position #2 and #3), a query with ~1,400 monthly searches.
In essence, Convertkit has three landing pages/articles for Competitor SEO against Mailchimp:
Example 3: Wistia
I know what it’s like to go against Youtube, one of the largest tech platforms out there as a former member of Dailymotion.
What I find really clever (and meta) is that Phil Nottingham explained the pros and cons of Wistia vs. Youtube in a Wistia video and in a Youtube video (see below).
With the article, Wistia ranks #1 for “wistia vs. youtube”.
The video on Youtube has almost 20K views and surely benefits from the recommended videos feature on Youtube. Very clever.
How to develop your own competitor SEO strategy
I probably shouldn’t write this because the competition is always watching but whatever. The point of Competitor SEO is to attack the weaknesses of your competitor as close to the point of conversion as possible.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Find your competitors from a search perspective.
Those could be different from your perceived market competitors. So, make sure to google versus and alternative queries to identify a set of search competitors.
Step 2: Build a landing page for each competitor/alternative.
Show a detailed comparison of your solution versus your competitor. Don’t forget to add a CTA throughout the page and use videos if you can.
Note that you’re not limited to creating alternative pages for comparisons with your brand but also between two other competitors.
Step 3: Identify weak points in documentation or landing pages.
Critically assess your competitors and look for weak execution of
- product documentation
- product landing pages
- industry landing pages
- product videos
- Use case landing pages
There are probably even more opportunities to get traffic from your competitor depending on what vertical you operate in.