Whether you’re optimizing a website with the goal of selling a tangible digital product or service (such as a SaaS), no organic product marketing strategy is complete without incorporating comparison keywords.
Google is constantly improving at understanding different user end goals (not just intent) behind search queries and tailoring search results pages to cater to different “views” on a given 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 to better understand your product in the context of the market.
Usually, there are two comparison search terms that you need to include in your strategy. They represent two different types of users:
- Search terms for “alternatives”: Users are aware of a particular product and may be aware of some others but are not yet convinced of a solid alternative.
- Search phrases “versus”: Typically, users at this point will have done more market and product research and are now directly comparing a shortlist of solutions.
Some websites group these two target phrases together on one page. However, it is important to differentiate and create the user experience needed to fully satisfy these different user groups.
Define comparative sentences
In addition to keyword research and all the data your tools provide, the full list of opportunities also includes:
- Your knowledge of the market.
- Feedback from potential customers about who they compare you to (whether or not you see the other company as a competitor).
- What Google delivers in terms of results (which is an indication of their perceived value).
I always recommend starting with the alternatives first, as this can help increase the number of sites that you think were your competition with the search terms used by your target user base.
Let’s use Airbnb as an example of the leading competitor in the market as we try to reach organic traction.
Ostensibly, Airbnb’s alternative search terms (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 more important than the list of 173 keywords Ahrefs gives me is that I can see which brands users most closely associate with Airbnb, so you get a double branding alternative:
- airbnb vrbo alternatives
- Airbnb and vrbo alternatives
- vrbo and airbnb alternatives
From here, we can also take a look at the search results for VRBO alternatives. They may have some fit (or crossover) with Airbnb alternatives, which expands the content opportunity.
The next step is to find the information you are looking for in SERPs. In some industries, such as travel, a large number of travel websites have done the work for you.
In other niches, you might find sites like G2, and in SaaS blogs of diverse technology.
Do a search for [airbnb alternatives] From a UK IP address I get travel sites that did the work for me.
I can select VRBO, Flipkey, TurnKey, Plum Guide, Homestay, Sonder, onefinestay, Agoda Homes, Third Home, Vacasa, and HomeToGo.
Doing the search for VRBO, I can add Casamundo, Wimdu, and Tripping to this list.
This gives me 15 potential comparison content pages to produce.
Take search volumes from the terms including [x] There is a potential monthly search volume of 6,190, which isn’t bad for a small comparison center, just looking for alternatives.
This search volume is then combined with [your-brand vs. competitor brand] To find page capabilities.
So if we look at [airbnb vs vrbo]the combined search volume for this page is 16,500. And if we use the desktop click-through rate (CTR) from the latest seoClarity study — 8.17% — we end up with potential monthly traffic in the region of 1,350.
These are relatively self-explanatory, once you’ve built your competitors list from your market knowledge and alternative keyword research.
I don’t tend to focus too much on search volumes at this point. Users looking for direct comparisons between your product and competitors are usually well-informed and close to the point of conversion.
As a result, the traffic may not be low in volume but very high in quality.
With vs, you want to create a comparison table in plain HTML so that Google can easily read all the content without having to interpret an image. Make sure you include the features that you have and that your competitors won’t have as well as those items that your competitors have but that you don’t.
It may seem counterintuitive to directly highlight features your competitors don’t have.
However, you are already providing a “better UX prediction”.
Users who specifically need something you don’t have will not generate initiative nor waste the sales team’s time. They won’t sign up and then quickly turn around and end up with a negative view of the product that doesn’t meet their needs.
Build a great comparison page
With these two phrases, you can create a great comparison page that objectively and realistically compares your products/services against others. And you will do so in a way that conveys a high value proposition to your users.
For structure, create an initial “hub” or page element on the specific product and solution pages that link internally to the comparison pages.
A lot of websites make the mistake of trying to create an independent user journey for their comparison content. In fact, it has a lot of value being linked internally to your product/solution landing pages.
On each individual page:
- You have an introductory section Qualitatively explain and present three main reasons why your product is an alternative to the product the user is comparing to. From here, you should link internally to relevant product/solution pages on your site, and any support blogs or support articles that further explain distinct product features.
- The second section should be more quantitative comparison Use plain HTML tables to compare direct product features and indirect product features such as support and access to any other “value-added” services.
- Create a conclusion With a paragraph or paragraph that talks about some of the lesser (positive) differences between your product and competitors, including a title and some information about how users move from their product to yours.
Hopefully, with the help of this article, you can start the discussion and build your business case for comparison pages.
Not only is it a great way to improve search visibility but it also serves as a tool to aid conversion and show users confidence and expertise as well.
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