Small businesses face numerous challenges trying to break the mold in this increasingly crowded online world. A notion that is especially true when it comes to ranking in search engines.
How do you possibly compete with much bigger brands who have sizeable SEO budgets?
Not only is it competitive, but everyone’s using the same tricks. So standing out is harder than ever.
However, there are certain platforms and established websites that seem to hold the secrets to SEO success. They always rank at the top of search engine results and dominate their niche.
I’m talking, of course, about review and comparison websites.
Consider TripAdvisor for a moment. It’s the world’s most comprehensive traveling website and the go-to source that can help you find the perfect destination for your vacation. It features extensive user reviews, and it offers you the chance to compare destinations before you make a decision.
What is it about TripAdvisor that makes it the top ranking website for a long list of competitive keywords in the travel industry?
Let’s take a look at the SEO secrets behind review and comparison websites like TripAdvisor, and see how you can apply similar tactics to your own efforts.
Secret #1: Create landing pages for different locations
Location plays a vital role in customizing your website content and SEO efforts. People are becoming increasingly smart about how they search the web and expect to receive the most relevant results for their local area.
Local landing pages can help you attract more of the right customers to your business, because by targeting specific locations, you are narrowing down the pool of people you are likely to attract to your website.
To make the most of this tactic, create a list of relevant local keywords, and develop a range of standalone landing pages on your website that fulfill the needs of these keywords.
Google’s algorithm prioritizes local results, so follow best practice of local SEO as well as targeting these relevant keywords, and your website could shoot to the top of the rankings.
You will find that almost all review and comparison websites have locally relevant landing pages to categorize their content – especially if their industry is location-based, such as travel or food.
For example, see below the different pages popular restaurant comparison site Zomato has for New York City and Sydney:
Secret #2: Use customer reviews in search results
The numbers paint an accurate picture: 90% of consumers will read online reviews before deciding if they want to do business with you or not. They trust a stranger’s input more than they trust your marketing message. As such, the more positive reviews your business has, the higher the chance they’ll perceive you as trustworthy.
Now, you may be asking yourself what the connection between reviews and SEO is? Well, in simple terms, reviews can be the decisive factor in the “should I click or not” debate. Plus, Google has understood the role reviews play in the decision-making process, so they added the possibility to filter local search results based on reviews from different users. That way, when you use Google maps, the platform will feature the businesses that have positive ratings.
These Google customer reviews also show up in search results if you have your Business Page appropriately set up. For example, huge Australian comparison website iSelect shows off their 1,300+ customer reviews in a Google search for “best car insurance”:
If you want to gain an advantage over your competitors, then make a habit of asking for reviews from your customers.
Secret #3: Build definitive resource pages to attract links
Content, as we all know, can attract links. And quality links, are a huge factor in where your website ranks in search results. That’s what makes resource pages such a valuable strategy for your website’s SEO performance. They feature informative articles or in-depth guides that can generate traffic and links.
Make sure that the content is relevant to your business and has the potential to rank for a worthwhile search term. Use Google Trends, or the AdWords keyword planner to find popular topics related to your industry and provide useful, shareable content on your platform to attract links.
For example, Australia’s largest comparison website Finder, is well known for this tactic. Below is a snapshot of one of their resource pages for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, a relevant resource guide considering they provide comparisons on mobile phone plans:
Secret #4: Offer an embeddable widget to other sites for links
Another way you can build links to your site is to provide an embeddable widget to other websites. Something of value that these websites would naturally want to use on their site. These widgets will act as a small gate to your site that people can spot and then navigate to reach your platform, or even if they don’t, you acquire a link for your efforts.
A great example of this in action is with Dimmi’s restaurant reservation widget. Dimmi is a restaurant reservation and comparison website that provides restaurants with an easy-to-install widget for their website so that customers can make restaurant reservations in a few simple clicks. The widget is then synced to an internal reporting system where the restaurant owner or manager can keep up to date with table bookings.
Here is the widget in action on the website for a restaurant called Ester:
Secret #5: Leverage user-generated content
Creating high-quality content on a regular basis can feel like a daunting task.
So, why not let your audience take some of the pressure off your shoulders?
Here’s the thing: every piece of content your audience creates, from reviews to comments to guest articles, can help you advance your SEO efforts.
Not only does user-generated content help you understand your customers better, but it can also boost your image and trustworthiness.
TripAdvisor is without a doubt the best example of this when it comes to comparison websites. Not only do they have an in-depth customer review system, but they also have a question and answer platform for every restaurant, location, or holiday rental on their website. This produces an enormous amount of valuable, and searchable content for Google to take notice of:
Secret #6: Use a site-wide footer to give link prominence to key pages
The footer on your website is like a second menu bar people will use to navigate your content. So, if you have something you want them to see, be sure to link to it in this section.
The beauty of the footer bar is that it shows up on every page but it is non-intrusive. So if you have key pages on your website you want to rank for, giving them this kind of prominence from an internal linking perspective, without crowding the top half of the screen and ruining user experience, is gold.
Make sure that the footer has a friendly design and is easy to read. The last thing you want is to cram hundreds of links into a small section that is impossible to read. Choose your footer links wisely, but don’t forget about them!
An example of this can be seen on popular insurance comparison website Compare the Market, where they link to their “Financial Services Guide” and “Financial Services Guide – Life Insurance Products” in their footer:
If you’re unsure about where to start when it comes to SEO, why not draw inspiration from the big websites already doing it so well.
These six tips, and the examples of great SEO tactics from comparison and review websites, are the perfect starting point for your new and improved SEO strategy.
Keep in mind that at the end of the day each of these tactics revolve around one simple principle: it’s all about user experience.
Guest Author: Nital Shah is the CEO and Founder of Octos Digital Marketing Agency. He is an expert in search strategies, planning and management with ten years under his belt and is serving top corporate brands in Australia. Nital can be connected on Email and LinkedIn.