Whether you’re optimising a website with a view to selling a tangible product, service, or digital service (such as SaaS), no organic product marketing strategy is complete without incorporating comparison keywords.
Google continuously gets better at understanding the various user end goals (not just the intent) behind search queries and tailoring search results pages to cater to different “perspectives” around a specific term.
Incorporating comparison keywords into your growth strategy, especially if your market is heavily saturated with competitors, can help improve your organic search visibility and traffic.
It also helps users better understand your product in the context of the marketplace.
Typically, there are two types of comparison search phrases that you need to include in your strategy. They represent two different types of users:
- “Alternatives” search phrases: Users are aware of one specific product and may be aware of some others but are not yet convinced of a solid alternative.
- “Versus” search phrases: Typically, users at this stage have done more market and product research and are now directly comparing a shortlist of solutions.
Some websites bundle these two target phrases together on a single page. However, it is important to differentiate and create the user experience necessary to fully satisfy these different user groups.
Identifying Comparison Phrases
In addition to your keyword research and all of the data that your tools provide, a complete opportunity list also incorporates:
- Your own market knowledge.
- Feedback from prospects as to who they are comparing you against (whether you see the other company as a competitor or not).
- What Google is returning in terms of results (which is an indicator of its perceived value).
I always recommend starting with your alternatives first, as this can help expand the number of sites you believe were your competitors through the search terms your target user base is using.
Let’s use Airbnb as an example of the leading competitor in the marketplace where we’re trying get to organic traction.
At face value, Airbnb alternative search phrases (as a category) have a search volume of 5,300 and use a number of modifiers including best, physical location, “ethical” and price (cheap).
But what’s more important from the list of 173 keywords that Ahrefs is giving me is that I can see the brands that users are closely associating with Airbnb, so you get a double brand alternative:
- airbnb vrbo alternatives
- alternatives to airbnb and vrbo
- vrbo and airbnb alternatives
From here, we can also look at the search results for VRBO alternatives. They may have some relevance (or crossover) with Airbnb alternatives, expanding the content opportunity.
The next step is to find the information you’re looking for on the SERPs. In some industries, such as travel, a large number of travel sites have done the leg work for you.
In other niches, you may find sites like G2, and in SaaS varying tech blogs.
Performing the search for [airbnb alternatives] from a UK IP, I get the travel sites that have done the work for me.
I can identity VRBO, Flipkey, TurnKey, Plum Guide, Homestay, Sonder, onefinestay, Agoda Homes, Third Home, Vacasa, and HomeToGo.
Performing the search for VRBO, I can add to this list Casamundo, Wimdu, and Tripping.
This gives me 15 potential comparison content pages to produce.
Taking the search volumes of phrases including [x] there is a potential monthly search volume of 6,190, which for a small comparison hub just looking at alternatives isn’t bad.
This search volume is then combined with [your-brand vs. competitor brand] to find the page’s potential.
So if we look at [airbnb vs vrbo], the combined search volume potential for this page is 16,500. And if we use the CTR for desktop from the latest seoClarity study – 8.17% – we end up with a monthly traffic potential in the region of 1,350.
These are relatively self-explanatory, once you’ve built your list of competitors from your own marketplace knowledge and alternative keyword research.
I tend not to focus too much on search volumes at this stage. Users who are searching direct comparisons between your product and competitors are typically both well researched and close to a conversion point.
As a result, the traffic may not be low in terms of volume but very high in terms of quality.
With versus, you want to build out a comparison table in plain HTML so that Google can easily read all of the content without having to interpret an image. Be sure to include the features you have and your competition doesn’t as well as those elements your competitors have but you don’t.
It may seem counter-intuitive to directly highlight features that your competitors have that you don’t.
However, you’re actually providing a better “user experience forecast.”
Users who specifically need something you don’t have won’t generate a lead or waste the sales team’s time. They won’t sign-up and then churn quickly and end up with a negative view of the product that didn’t meet their needs.
Building A Great Comparison Page
With both these phrases, you can build out a great comparison page that objectively and factually compares your products/services with another. And it will do so in a way that communicates a high-value proposition for users.
For structure, establish an initial “hub” or a page element on the specific product and solution pages that internally links to the comparison pages.
A lot of websites make the mistake of trying to create a standalone user journey for their comparison content. In reality, it has a lot of value being internally linked to product/solution landing pages.
On each individual page:
- Have an introductory section qualitatively explaining and providing three key reasons as to why your product is an alternative to the one the user is comparing you to. From here, you should internally link to the relevant product/solution pages on your site, and any supporting blogs or support articles further explaining the product features highlighted.
- The second section should be a more quantitative comparison using plain HTML tables to compare direct product features, indirect product features such as support, and access to any other “added value” services.
- Create a conclusion with a paragraph or two talking about some lesser (positive) differences between your product and the competitors, including a heading and some information about how users could transition from their product to yours.
Hopefully, with the help of this article, you can begin the discussion and build the business case for comparison pages.
They are not only a great way to improve search visibility but also act as a tool to help convert and demonstrate trust and expertise to users, as well.
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