Search engine optimization isn’t an easy task.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to get more organic traffic and improve your SEO.
On top of that, SEO takes countless months of work, testing, and trial and error.
You have to go through the ups and downs of SEO to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
You need to learn what’s worth your time and which tasks will destroy your budget before you can see any real results.
It’s not for the faint of heart and it isn’t something you can do overnight.
But you also need that organic traffic to survive.
What if I told you there was a way to bypass the months of effort and work it takes to build better SEO?
What if I told you that you could skip the A/B testing and bypass the budget issues that come with it?
Thankfully, you can. How?
You need to take a deep look at the most important aspects of good SEO and analyze your competition.
If you can go in-depth with their content to see what works, you can copy their strategies and skip the grunt work.
Here’s an SEO cheat sheet with four ways to steal your competitor’s rankings, traffic, and leads.
1. Steal their backlinks
Backlinks are critical when it comes to stealing your competitor’s rankings, traffic, and leads.
Backlinks have the power to do a few major things:
- Increase your ranking potential
- Drive targeted, high-quality traffic to your site
- Increase brand awareness
Let’s break each one of these down before diving into the “how-to” portion.
For the first one, it’s true. The more backlinks you get, the better rankings you get:
The highest-ranking posts on Google will always have the highest number of backlinks.
That’s true for now, at least.
Secondly, it gives you the chance to drive highly targeted traffic back to your site.
For instance, when a new post goes live on a different site than mine, or I get mentioned, it can drive huge groups of traffic with a single link:
Lastly, it can help you build major brand awareness on new sites and potentially new markets.
Getting your brand in front of new audiences is the best way to build a following and grow your leads.
But doing that isn’t easy. You need to get mentioned and even put a face to the name.
For example, check out my author page on Entrepreneur:
These backlinks help me build huge brand awareness and establish myself as a thought and topic leader in the industry.
It shows that I am a skilled professional and that my advice and brand are credible.
Now that you’ve got a grasp on the three major ways that backlinks can help you, you know how critical it is to acquire them in larger amounts than your competition.
To get started, you want to explore their backlink profile to see where and how they get these links.
Fire up Moz’s Open Site Explorer and enter their link into the URL bar:
From here, hit “Search” and then navigate to the “Compare Link Metrics” section:
This will help you analyze whether or not the site of your competitor is worthwhile when looking for links to steal.
Scroll down to the section with root domain metrics to see how many total links their entire site has:
If they’ve got thousands of links, it’s definitely worthwhile.
If they don’t have many, you can probably skip them as they probably don’t have a dedicated link strategy to copy.
Next, head back to the inbound links section and select the following search filters:
This will display all the links for the entire site as well as only external backlinks.
Lastly, click on the domain authority (DA) button to sort the list by top-ranking sites.
With all that setup work, it’s finally time to dig into their links.
You now have a curated list of their top backlinks just waiting for you to steal.
The key here is to find sites that are excellent and to analyze how those links were acquired.
To do this, I’ll show you an example.
Here is one of the best links that Kissmetrics has right now:
That’s a 100 domain authority link. It’s the best of the best. You want this type of link badly.
So, how did they get it?
First, read the title of the backlink source:
5 Simple Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate on Your Website
That’s interesting. So this article is about proven ways to reduce bounce rates. Now, take a look at the link anchor text:
It says “ran a study.” This means that AddThis, the backlink provider to Kissmetrics, used a data point from Kissmetrics’s own study for reference in their article.
That data was what helped secure this link.
It wasn’t just any data from another source, either. It was a study done by KISSmetrics itself!
That’s a goldmine for a marketer.
That shows me that non-replicable data sets are huge sources of links.
If you can run a study or publish a case study and a proprietary data set, you have the chance to get tons of links.
How do you do this? Create a quick survey on Google Forms and blast it on your social media and email lists.
Try to get some data that is interesting in your niche.
The goal here is to replicate all of the tactics that your competition used, giving you a great shot at getting the same (and more) links.
2. Hijack their keywords
Keyword research is one of my least favorite things to do for SEO.
It takes a long time to find long-tail keywords that are worth your time.
And most of them seem to be overly crowded by great sites, meaning it’s nearly impossible to rank high for them.
But when you find the right keywords, you can make a big difference on your site and get more traffic.
Luckily, there is a way to bypass the time spent doing keyword research while still reaping the rewards of the process!
You can spy on your competition. You can hijack their keywords and use them against them.
My favorite tool to do this with is Alexa.
To get started, you can run a free report for your competitors without signing up for a trial just yet.
To do that, head to Alexa’s Site Info tool and plug in your competition:
Hit “Find” and you can pull up some great data.
First, you can see how much of their traffic is from organic search:
I like this feature because it’s a great indication of whether or not the competitor is putting a lot of effort into SEO.
If the number is higher, they are likely investing heavily in it.
Next, as a free bonus, Alexa gives you the top 5 keywords that a given site is ranking for:
This is a good benchmark measure of what types of keywords your competition is using and which ones you should start to target.
For example, if they take up more search engine traffic percentages, they are higher in search volume.
If you want even more data, I suggest creating a free trial account:
Once you’ve created a free account, navigate to the “Competitor Keyword Matrix:”
Next, enter the sites that you want to spy on:
If you have multiple competitors, simply keep adding them to the box to gather a comprehensive report on all of your competitors!
From this search, you should start to turn up tons of amazing keywords and data:
You can see the popularity of the search, competition levels, and more.
Once you’ve created a list, you can download all of it into a spreadsheet by hitting the download button up in the top right corner.
The last step here is to decipher which keywords are going to be your best bet.
To do this, head to the “Keyword Difficulty Tool.” You can see your chances of personally ranking for the keyword based on your site strength:
The combination of these tools will save you hours of work and research to find the right keywords.
Chances are, your competitors have found amazing keywords that are just waiting for you to steal.
Get more traffic in less time by piggybacking on their keywords.
3. Create better content than them by improving on their ideas
Better content is crucial when it comes to driving more traffic, leads, and better rankings.
But again, creating topics and writing posts takes time.
Thankfully, by conducting just a few minutes of spying, you can steal ideas and improve upon them to outrank your competition.
First, you need to know what type of content is best.
Currently, according to Orbit Media data, the typical marketer is writing blog posts that are just over 1,000 words in length:
That’s great, but when you look at the disparity between top-ranking content and this data, you can see a huge untapped opportunity:
The top 10 ranking content is at least 1,750 words.
If you want the number one spot, you have to write double the average word count.
Though this might sound daunting, it’s an opportunity.
Your competitors are probably writing 1,000-word posts. If you take their post and make it better, adding another 1,000 words, you can outrank them and steal their leads.
To get started, head to BuzzSumo and search for their top-performing content:
Next, click on the first result that you see.
Open up the link, select all of the content on the page, and paste it into a new Google Doc to see the word count. Here’s what it looks like with one of my blog posts:
Once you’ve noted the word count, set a target goal.
If the word count is 1,000 words, double it.
The goal here is to make your content a one-stop shop so that no user needs to navigate back to Google to click on the competition!
It’s a trick that has gotten me tons of traffic and leads, leaving my competition in the dust.
Next, you can copy their outline. To do this, simply run through the post and take notes and inspiration from their structure.
Figure out which topics they have covered and add those to your list.
Lastly, head to Google to put the icing on the cake. With this move, you can enter your keyword for the post and get more ideas to expand that blog post and get more traffic.
Scroll down to the bottom of the SERP and look for the related searches box:
These are common searches related to your keyword. People who are interested in content marketing, in general, are also searching for examples, strategies, and how-to guides.
This is a resource that can tell you exactly what your article needs.
For example, adding a strategy guide, explaining the types of content marketing, and offering a lead-magnet PDF could be a game changer for your SEO.
You would virtually supply all of the things that users are looking for with a single post, making it much less likely that a user will click on a competitor.
Pull topics from here that you can use to expand your competitor’s post and steal their rankings, traffic, and leads.
4. Be faster than your competition
In 2017, Google released a huge report showcasing the importance of page speed when it comes to SEO.
The key factor they found was how it impacted CTR, bounce rates, and rankings.
One of the most important graphs was Google’s data on bounce rates:
The longer it takes for your site to load, the higher the likelihood of someone bouncing.
Speed is critical when it comes to rankings. If waves of users are clicking on your content but bouncing due to load time, Google will easily pick up on that and move your site down in the rankings.
So, if you want to steal your competition’s leads and traffic, you need to be faster than them.
You need to give the user your content without hesitation.
To do this, you also need to know how fast your competitor’s website is.
Head to Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool and run it on your competition:
If you notice that their speed levels aren’t up to par on mobile or desktop, you have a window of opportunity to outrank them:
For example, if they have poor mobile speed, they are making a mistake, like me.
Mobile traffic is currently more popular than desktop traffic.
Optimizing your pages for speed could give you a big edge over your competition.
And the good news is, Google notes that most sites in every industry are too slow:
A great way to quickly improve your speed is to start compressing images.
Compressing your images can save your page speed and it requires almost no work!
It’s a quick fix that can help you improve your speed and technical SEO.
One of my favorite plugins is WP Smush, which you can install for free. You can instantly start to smush the existing images on your site or do a bulk upload:
Pro tip: when you install this plugin, navigate to the settings tab and make sure to enable smushing every time you upload a new photo to your site:
Take advantage of the technical improvement in your SEO by adding an image compression tool to your site.
It can increase your speed and give you that edge to outrank and outperform your competition.
Search engine optimization is tough and time-consuming.
There are dozens of ways to make your SEO better and more effective, but knowing which ones will have a big impact isn’t easy.
On top of that, your competition is probably trying to do the same exact thing.
They may even already outrank you with better keywords, rankings, traffic, and leads.
That means that they are probably already ahead of the curve.
Thankfully, that presents a great opportunity for marketers looking to boost their SEO traffic.
It means that you can copy what they have already done, avoiding the potential downsides that come with overhauling an SEO strategy.
To get started, you need to steal their backlinks.
Backlinks are a huge factor when it comes to ranking high for organic searches, and you can easily do it on Moz.
Scout their best backlinks and try to replicate their strategy.
Next, hijack their keywords. See what keywords are driving tons of traffic and start to compete for them.
Be sure to create better content than they do by expounding on their posts and adding more valuable content.
Lastly, make sure you’re faster than your competition so that you get the majority of clicks and your traffic stays on your site.
Simply use a plugin like WP Smush, and you’ll be on your way to a faster site.
If you want better traffic and rankings, spy on your competition with these tips.
What are your favorite ways to spy on your competitors to get better SEO rankings?