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How To Outrank Your Competition
By Giselle Aguiar

ike it or not, when it comes to marketing, you are always competing with someone for your target market’s business. You may be blessed to have little or no direct competition, but what else are you competing against? Alternatively, you may be in a highly competitive area with your main competitor right across the street. At any rate, you still need to stand out above the crowd. There are various ways to do that in today’s digital marketing age, so I’ll highlight some examples of clients of mine with low, medium, and high competition.

Continuous Scrolling On Google
Before I get into it, you may have noticed that when you search on Google on your phone, tablet, or desktop you have the search results in a continuous scroll. Google removed the “more results” button or link at the bottom. The question for you is: How far does a potential customer need to scroll to see your name when searching for self-storage space? Ideally, you want to be in the 10th spot or better depending on the level of competition.

If your website has been up for a while, where do you come up when someone searches for your main keywords or phrases? Your goal is to improve that position by bumping your competition down and putting yourself above them in the search results. Keep in mind that Google brings up the freshest, most relevant, and most useful content that matches the searcher’s query. If your website is brand new, you have some work to do.

Little Or No Competition
You may be lucky enough to not have much competition in your town, especially if you’re in a rural area, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any competition—at least until the next storage facility opens across town.

First, I’ll tell you about one of my clients who opened the very first Rage Room in Tempe (and the whole state of Arizona). Being the original, he had no competition. He enjoyed being on the first page of Google search for “rage room Phoenix” and “anger room Tempe,” among other phrases. Even if the searcher didn’t know the name of the company, he was found by searching for what it is. That’s one of the first things to remember when it comes to search engine optimization: What is your target market going to enter into the search box to find what you are offering if they don’t know your name?

For almost two years my client enjoyed being the only one in the Phoenix Valley until another rage room opened nearby. At a networking event, I met someone who opened one in the North Valley. My client can’t afford to become complacent; he has to continue his marketing efforts or he’s going to lose the coveted top spot on Google.

One Formidable Competitor
Another client of mine has only one competitor for one aspect of his business, however, they are a formidable one. They publish an article at least five times a week. So, the challenge here was not to bump them off but to at least come up on the same page. In this case, the strategy was to blog about recent news items related to their business and how his service could solve their problems.
Medium Competition
One of my clients was my chiropractor. Specifically, he’s a Gonstead Chiropractor (that’s a particular method of chiropractic medicine). Some people search for that and there are only a few in the Phoenix Valley. On top of that, he also practices holistic and functional medicine, which tries to find the source of the pain or issue rather than treating the symptoms. He offers several weight-loss programs as well. Now, in that field, he has a lot of competition.

He told me he liked working with older people, helping them with “healthy aging.” That gave me the idea for him to offer a “healthy aging screening” that would get folks into the office. Then, depending on their medical problem, he could offer various treatments. That helped him stand out and reach a specific target. We focused on sharing articles on healthy aging, and we built a following with that strategy.

High Competition
In doing research for a client who has a faith-based clothing line in an e-commerce store, I discovered he had more competition than we both thought. His competition is national, if not global. I knew it was a competitive field going in, but I didn’t realize how competitive till I started doing searches online. All of a sudden, I started seeing ads for faith-based clothing stores on my personal Instagram. Every day a new one would pop up. Yikes! I first listed the top eight that came up on Google search, and then I found three more significant ones from the Instagram ads. If he wants to be successful, he’s going to have to budget some dollars for paid ads.
Keep Tabs On The Competition
Yes, you can spy on your competition in a few ways:

  • Find out how often they blog. With the free e-news reader Feedly.com, you can subscribe to their blogs without them knowing or having to receive their emails.
  • Create a “private list” on X (formerly Twitter) and pin it to the top of your X app to monitor it. You can see how often they post and what they are posting. Copy (or improve upon) some of their ideas!
  • From your LinkedIn Business Page, you can follow your competitors’ business pages. Go to Analytics in the left menu, then to the Competitors tab. Go to “Edit competitors” and search for your competition. If they don’t have a LinkedIn Business Page, then you’re ahead of them right there!
Gaining Your Target’s Attention
Back in the day of three TV networks and a morning newspaper, the bolder headline, the catchier tune, and the snazzier commercial got your attention. A business tested ads with coupons to see if they were effective. They looked for ROI (return on investment).

Now, you’re not just competing against your business competition. You’re up against everyone else that your target follows online and on social media, which includes but is not limited to:

  • family
  • friends
  • celebrities
  • entertainment
  • major brands
  • politics
  • the latest news or trends

So, what’s an independent self-storage owner supposed to do?

  1. First and foremost, clearly define your target market personas. You can have more than one. The free workbook at https://azsocialmediawiz.com/define-target-market-workbook/ is a good starting point.
  2. Determine what sets you apart from the rest. What makes you different? What makes you unique? What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  3. Research the target(s). Get to know them. Which social media networks do they frequent the most? Do generations factor in? What are their pain points? What are their other interests? (That’s what you’ll be competing with for their attention online.)
  4. What keywords are they going to enter into the search engine to find you? Use Google’s free keyword tool (https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/). The keyword list will tell you which phrases are most searched for each month. It will also give you variations of keywords and phrases. You can get a list by location and try several different phrases. This list will help you write the copy for your website and social media network profile pages and give you ideas for blog articles.
  5. Who’s your direct competitor? Using an incognito window, do a Google search for your major keyword phrases and questions. Who comes up on the first page? Start with the top organic (non-paid) listings. Visit their websites.
    • If they have a blog, how often are they blogging?
    • Are they on social media? (which networks?)
    • How many followers do they have?
    • How often are they posting?
    • What are they posting?
    • If they’re not blogging weekly, then you need to blog weekly, if not daily, to bump them down and you up. Obviously, if they’re not active on the social networks, then you need to be. The more active you are, the faster you’ll grab their spot in the search results.
  6. Set up your website and social media networks optimized for local search. Branding must be consistent throughout.
  7. Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals. Based on your competitor research, choose metrics that make sense for you.
  8. Plan your strategic efforts to get your target market’s attention and meet your goals. If competition is low to medium, then organic (non-paid) marketing should be sufficient until more competitors show up (and they will). Since location is a factor, you may also get away with just doing organic marketing. Local businesses with high competition will have to budget for paid advertising or get very creative and clever.
  9. Then comes the tactical plan to implement the strategy. How many blog articles or videos will you do a week? How many posts to X, Facebook, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn per day?
  10. Then, just do it. Yes, it takes time to build a following on social media and even to start getting traffic to your website. Clearly, you must put in more time upfront. Figure it will take at least two to three months (depending on how competitive your market is) to start seeing results.
  11. Monitor and measure at the end of each month to see what worked and what didn’t work. Plan accordingly for the next month. Check your website analytics as well as your social media insights. Compare the results month to month. Do you see improvements? If you put in the effort, you should.
An Involved Process
It’s more involved than you likely thought. Take a lesson from Master Chef, “Do your best. Just hope that your competition does a lesser job or makes a mistake.”

As you can see, it’s not as simple as putting up a website and doing a few posts or ads on Facebook. It’s complex, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you take it one step at a time.

Giselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz in 2011, is a social media content and digital marketing consultant and trainer. She’s been involved in internet marketing since 1995. Today, she specializes in strategic and tactical planning, social media setups, 1:1 digital marketing training and coaching, SEO copywriting, and WordPress websites. She is a trainer and mentor for the Arizona Commerce Authority as a founding mentor of its Digital Academy. She is also an avid blogger. Visit her website, AZSocialMediaWiz.com, for more information.