4 tactics for beating the aggregators
You may have noticed when you’re searching for B2B solutions online, that more and more of the organic real estate is dominated by aggregators. Here, TopLine's Luke Budka discusses how to beat them at their own game.
If I search ‘video conferencing software’ the top eight organic results are:
- https://www.techradar.com/uk/best/best-video-conferencing-software (aggregator)
- https://www.softwareadvice.com/uk/video-conferencing/ (aggregator)
- https://uk.pcmag.com/cloud-services/9067/the-best-video-conferencing-software-for-2019 (aggregator)
- https://www.computerworld.com/article/3412299/skype-alternatives--the-best-video-conferencing-software.html (aggregator)
- https://communications-software.financesonline.com/c/video-conferencing-software/uk (aggregator)
- https://www.g2.com/categories/video-conferencing (aggregator)
- https://www.capterra.com/web-conferencing-software/ (aggregator)
- https://zoom.us/ (the first instance of an individual vendor ranking for the keyword – UK organic desktop CTR for fifth place is 2.94% - the keyword gets 320 searches a month in the UK so Zoom can expect to get a little over nine clicks a month)
Google assumes a searcher wants a list of options and it therefore prioritises comparison sites. These sites order the video conferencing vendors according to the number of reviews they’ve got and various other factors – a lot of the time it comes down to sponsorship. I suspect in the longer term aggregators will be penalised for this model (and I recently covered the reasons why) – essentially though they’re turning organic search into a pay to play game by harvesting vendor content and charging for first place rankings within their own ecosystems.
So, if you’re a vendor, then how are you supposed to compete for those all-important organic clicks if the majority of the search engine results are eaten up by aggregators?
1. Outrank them by playing them at their own game
There’s nothing stopping a Lifesize or Zoom from creating their own roundups. However, if I search the Zoom site (site:zoom.us “video conferencing comparison”), I find nothing of the kind. This is a tactic however employed by other more SEO savvy companies (e.g. HubSpot and their blog featuring 10 competitors which ranks for ‘marketing automation software’). Vendor sites can win the day if they adopt this approach. If they feature competitors (or other companies than could be classed as competitors i.e. none of the companies in the HubSpot blog are true HubSpot competitors) they can outrank aggregator sites. If we take that organic results list again and review their respective domain authorities (a number from 0-100 indicating SEO authority - more on Domain Authority here):
- www.techradar.com – DA 92
- www.softwareadvice.com – DA 69
- uk.pcmag.com - DA 92
- www.computerworld.com – DA 89
- communications-software.financesonline.com – DA 69
- www.g2.com – DA 66
- www.capterra.com – DA 32
- zoom.us – DA 82
Zoom has a significantly higher DA than four of the top seven results. If it produced a comparison type piece to rival the aggregators’ lists, it could feasibly rank first – especially as Zoom’s site is 100% focussed on video conferencing. This is quite a competitive example; usually the search engine results aren’t that challenging from a DA perspective and there’s more opportunity, but even in this example, with the right content, Zoom should outrank Capterra, G2, FinancesOnline and Software Advice.
2. Target PAA
Aggregators are mainly focussed on bottom of funnel keywords. They need to attract users ready to make a purchase as their business models are often dependent on affiliate dollars. This leaves a lot of mid and top of sales funnel for the vendors themselves.
Google makes it really easy to identify the right types of mid and top of funnel questions to target – just take a look at the ‘People also ask’ section in the search engine results:
These PPA questions appear under the first organic search result. Answer them and you can outrank nine other organic results.
Admittedly these questions are better suited to prospects higher up the sales funnel. But attract customers while they’re still in the research phase and you automatically put yourself in contention when they come to making a purchase.
3. Rank for brand names and modified brand names, not generic products
Know when aggregators aren’t featured? When brand names are included. For example, ‘zoom video conferencing’ gets 2,400 searches a month in the UK and there’s not an aggregator in site.
Interestingly though, there are opportunities to take some of those first page organic results away from Zoom. Much like the classic pay per click tactic of bidding on a competitor’s brand name (BlueJeans and others appear in the ads for this keyword) there’s also an opportunity to do so in the organic results. Though and behold, when you search ‘zoom video conferencing’ the fifth result is a Lifesize blog comparing its software to Zoom’s.
4. Join them
The search engine landscape is always changing. If you’re being outranked by an aggregator then make sure you’re included in the aggregator’s listings. When I stumbled upon HubSpot’s approach to ranking for the keyword ‘marketing automation software’ by listing its competitors in a round-up, I also noticed the automation company featured in the search engine page one aggregator round-ups too – I then asked HubSpot’s director of acquisition Matthew Howells-Barby for his opinion on the matter – this was his response:
Exactly. We’d rather own a part of the conversation that also includes our competitors vs having no convo at all. We also need to balance what visitors actually WANT, and this includes competitors. Our goal is to appear on every page ranking on page 1, regardless of who wrote it.— Matthew Howells-Barby (@matthewbarby) November 6, 2019
There you have it – don’t let the aggregators get you down. There are a variety of tactics you can employ to beat them at their own game, ensuring your brand benefits from all the free ‘read to buy’ traffic generated from ranking on page one.