In October 2019, we released a report analysing the online performance of Safari Holiday providers. But with the shifting landscape of 2020, especially in the travel industry, plenty has changed. Take STA Travel, for example. They were 7th place in our league table, knocking on the doors of greatness, and they have now ceased trading. But this does not mean you should look away. Rather the opposite, in fact. As any Attenborough enthusiast would tell you, fresh meat is an easier meal than that which needs a hunt.

For brands who don’t want to play nice, those who’d rather get down to the bones of it, your gaze should firmly be on the STA meat that’s been left behind. Here, we provide an easy guide on how your brand can capitalise on the demise of competitors. A little unpalatable perhaps, but hey, it’s the Serengeti out here and you better act quick. The vultures won’t be far away.

Contents:

  1. Sizing up your meal – where’s the best meat?
  2. First bite – replicate content and outreach to STA Travel’s link profile
  3. Clean the bones – a long-tail SERP play
  4. Summary

Sizing up your meal

The basics, but fruitful. Your first port of call should be checking how your old competitor used to perform. AHREFs isn’t a bad place to start, although however your digital marketing team completes competitor analysis should suffice.

From the above stats, we can get a feel for where is best to start. STA Travel clearly had a strong link game, with 3600 referring domains. They also ranked for an insane amount of keywords, upwards of 440,000. A slight assumption perhaps, but a large keyword base and strong link profile generally means a website considers content as king of the jungle.

Let’s dig in.

First Bite: Replicate and outreach content to STA Travel’s link profile

When any domain goes down, there is a butterfly effect across the web. Whoever was linking to that site now has a broken link on their own site. This is a signal to Google that they do not keep an eye on their content and can often lead to performance drops.

For this reason, broken links are something webmasters are keen to avoid. By and large, they’ll replace a broken link with one that works. It’s a you scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours kinda’ deal. And with most safari holiday and travel sites at risk over the coming year, these opportunities are likely to continue.

Using STA Travel as the example, we’ll show you how to capitalise on broken links caused by a brand who has gone under.

1. Analyse their backlink profile

We used AHREFs to rank STA Travel’s content and pages by their amount of incoming links. If you can’t afford an account, consider using their 7 day free trial or use a free backlink checker like The Hoth.

What you want to find is the most linked pages. This then allows you to start finding easy backlink opportunities. When completing this ourselves, we started on AHREFs best by links tool, accessible in the sidebar on Site Explorer mode. Simply putting in the competitor domain, we could see the most linked pages, regardless of the fact they no longer present the post.

Ignoring irrelevant pages (home page, about us etc), we found STA’s best linked content. Take a look at the referring domains for each post in the table below. There are more than 500; all pointing to content which no longer exists.

Every one of these links is now sending Google signals that their own content is poor. What’s more, their users won’t be too happy when they’re directed to content which doesn’t exist. That’s where you come in.

2. Match your content to STA’s best linked pages

This step is all about matching your content to STA travel’s broken pages. Check out the highlighted parts of the URLs in the table above. These are your titles or topics. Next, check out the referring domains column. Clearly, the higher number of referring domains, the more sites you can get in touch with and outreach your existing content. If you don’t have content that feels similar, create it! Most of these are a simple blog post and will take no more than a couple hours to recreate.

Potential titles:

TitleReferring Domains
The Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel51
The Best Eco Gifts for Travel Enthusiasts49
The San Sebastien Travel Guide47
Unesco World Heritage sites – The 2020 Edition46

3. Outreach to the sites with broken links

Once you have live content similar to the best linked pages of your old competitor, you’ll want to let them know. Be friendly and to the point, identifying their broken link, followed by a request to change the link to your post. As mentioned, it’s a rather successful tactic as you’re offering value and helping improve their web page.

To find the referring domains an individual post ranks for, input the exact URL of the STA Travel post to AHREFS Site Explorer. Then, click backlinks in the left side panel. Again, AHREFS isn’t the only tool you can do this with. Find a free tool if you’re on a low budget.

This will present a list of every external URL which has a broken link to the no-longer STA Travel post. Filter through these results and find the sites you would like a link from.

If you have certain criteria for links, such as a domain rating above 30, you may want to complete this step before you write the posts. This will ensure you aren’t writing posts for poor links. Instead, you’ll have identified the best links and produced content with specific targets in mind.

To make a successful backlink more possible, you’ll want to screenshot exactly where it is on the page. From the above example, we checked the anchor text then jumped over to the post in question. Completing a simple find text action through your browser you can find exactly where the broken link sits.

Now, simply find an email address for somebody at the company, preferably a webmaster or marketing employee. Let them know about their broken link and politely offer your post in its place.

Clean the bones – a long-tail SERP play

Another quick task capitalising on the demise of a competitor is targeting low difficulty, high volume keywords they ranked for. If you don’t have access to SEO tools, simply do a site search on google with a broad theme, then choose one of the top posts. This likely means it ranks for a number of keywords.

Find out what keywords that post ranked for using a keyword checker tool. Again, we’ll use AHREFS.

At this stage, you want to look for keywords they ranked well for. You’ll also want to filter your results to those which had decent volumes and low difficulties. In the screenshot above, you’ll notice 8 keywords all on page 1. The majority are in positions 1-3 and have very low difficulty ratings. In total, this post ranked for keywords with a total of 680 searches per month – not bad for ten minutes work.

(You’ll notice that despite the fact said post now results in an insolvency page, it’s still ranking well for keywords. It won’t be for long, so strike while the iron’s hot.)

Create a post around these keywords or optimise existing content with them in mind. You won’t always jump straight to the top but it gives you the best grounding for SERP success. The final step is to rinse and repeat. Find as many of these opportunities as possible and pick the bones clean.

Summary

While it’s rather dark to capitalise on the success of another’s failings, the SEO world is all about taking the right opportunities. One brand’s loss is another’s gain. With the travel and safari industry in real danger of capitulation, it’s important to take opportunities where you can, regardless of the taste they leave. Simple tasks like the above are great for brand-building and climbing the SERPs while times are tough. They’ll also help Google’s view of your site. So, while we mourn the loss of STA travel, we’d like to see someone take their place. Keep these tactics in mind over the coming months. There may be more meat for the taking.