October 10, 2019

The power of “competitor alternative” pages

For any popular product, there’s always a bunch of people who are unhappy or who want to compare alternatives.

One nice trick is creating a comparison page targeting the “[your competitor name] + alternative” search term. For example, EmailOctopus has a “Mailchimp alternative” page.

Even if the search volume is low it's one of the best terms to rank for because anyone Googling has an intent to purchase. A “[competitor] + alternative” page with 50 / mo organic traffic might convert more paid users than a blog post with 5000 / mo organic traffic.

Podia, the online course platform, nails this strategy. Let’s run through it:

A hub of pages

The first area where Podia excels is volume. In total they have 37 “[competitor] + alternative” pages (all variations of the same template) pulling in 5,500 organic traffic / mo:

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I like this strategy because once the first template is built the marginal cost of adding another is minimal. It also allows Podia to hedge their bets. No matter which competitor becomes “the next big thing” Podia are ready to pinch any unhappy customers.

Highly Persuasive

The beauty of “alternative” pages is they allow you to position yourself as the antidote to your competitors' pain. And Podia doesn't miss an opportunity:

1) For each competitor, their copy hits at the heart of why someone might want to migrate away:

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2) The categories in their comparison table are handpicked (from a much larger pool) to best highlight each competitor's deficiencies:

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3) Even their testimonials are targeted. For instance, the “Gumroad alternative” page showcases a customer who previously migrated from Gumroad:

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Engage each user

Podia also do a great job of encouraging dialogue. On viewing one of their “alternative” pages a message appears reading:

Hey! 😊 Quick question: are you currently using [Competitor]?

The aim is to turn a landing page visit into a sales interaction. I bet Spencer is well versed on each competitor's pain points.

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Defend territory

Finally, Podia have also built a “Podia Alternative” page themselves where they compare the competition.

Given this page is on their domain it’s sure to come in at No 1 for the “Podia Alternative” search term.

This prevents competitors with “Podia Alternative” pages, strolling to the top of Google unchallenged, and pinching their own customers.

Results

Does Podia's strategy actually work? Well, to quote Annie Maguire, who wrote the copy for these pages, “they're converting visitors to trial accounts at over 10%.” So that is a resounding yes!

Summary

To summarise Podia’s execution:

  • Create a “[your competitor name] + alternative” template
  • Duplicate for all competitors
  • Be the antidote to the pain your competitors bring
  • Encourage dialogue with a targeted message popup
  • Cover yourself by creating your own alternative page.

Phew! You made it. Couldn't resist trying out the new Indie Hackers markdown features! Thanks to @andreboso for the tip! Originally published here.

If you found it useful, I write about real world marketing examples over on marketingexamples.com and also post quick marketing tips on Twitter. Any questions, I'll be in the comments :)

  1. 7

    Great post. I found the "defend territory" technique particularly clever, and will be sure to consider factoring these ideas into my products!

    1. 2

      Thank you . I also love that one.

      Think of this stuff like Chess. And that tip is like castling, to keep the defence line nice and tight, whilst you advance your knights up the battlefield!

  2. 2

    Thanks, Harry!

    Definitely, going to implement this.

    1. 2

      Thanks Onar! Let me know how you get on :)

  3. 2

    I'm gonna do this at the weekend. I had a page exactly like this before but I felt like the copy was garbage. I'll give it more thought and time.

    1. 1

      Good luck Mick! Remember to get "competitor + alternative" in the h1 tag. That's the key from Google's point of view.

      1. 1

        That old page I mentioned is still up.... and it's still rubbish. All I did was remove the link to it from my homepage: https://songbox.rocks/soundcloud

      2. 1

        Thanks!

  4. 2

    Great job, Harry! I've checked this piece out via your thread on Twitter.

    I also like Podia's "Examples" page, which is a lot like "Testimonials" on other websites, but actually also serves the purpose of showcasing what can be done with their product.

    I'm thinking there will be fierce competition for these keywords when every business starts rolling out such a list of "Competors of X" articles...

    1. 1

      Cheers Valentine. Appreciated.

      You're right. For any industry which where digital marketers get paid cash money this stuff is going to get saturated. For example "email marketing" companies are all over this tactic.

      But there's still some really easy wins in some other niches. For example my parents run a study skills business. So this weekend I'm going to make a batch of pages for their competitors. No one's doing it in that space!

      Just checked out Podia's example page. Really, really like that. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 1

    Is there any legal action a competitor could take to make you remove this type of page?

    1. 1

      Judging by the fact that literally thousands of companies do it, I'm going to say no. As long as the truth is being spoken.

  6. 1

    Great stuff. This has been on my list and this post is now added to that task item.

    1. 1

      Cheers Josh! Much appreciated. Good luck implementing.

      1. 1

        Similar to this we've done one on integrations i.e. "Referral Program Integrations - <Vendor Name>"

        We have pages for each integration we have. Those get us a decent number of search clicks per month.

  7. 1

    Thanks for sharing this, super interesting!

    1. 2

      Pleasure Fahim. Appreciate the encouragement.

  8. 1

    Great Post!

    1. 2

      Thanks Tejas!

      1. 1

        I have subscribed on marketingexamples.. great website.. loved seo strategy of specsavers.

  9. 1

    Thanks Harry ✌️ (PS My IH handle is @andreboso - I will get it on Twitter too one day - 😂)

    1. 1

      Cheers Andrea. Have edited! And wish you luck with that.