How To Rank Higher On Google For A Keyword
Are you wondering how to rank higher on Google, is there a particular keyword that you’re trying to rank for? Is there a certain search term that you would just love to see your website appearing on the first page of Google for? Well it’s not necessarily that easy to do unless you’re like Wikipedia. But the good news is that it’s not impossible – I’ve done it.
The process of ranking a website to get it to appear in organic search for a particular keyword does follow a bit of a formula. Now this formula won’t yield the same results 100% of the time, and if your website is new and you are going after highly competitive search terms, well then, it’s going to be that bit tougher to get the results quickly. However, if you invest more long term into your content marketing and SEO strategy you will start to get things moving in the right direction for sure. You can increase SERP’s and in turn your traffic.
In this article we will detail 10 steps to rank higher on Google for a keyword
Step 1: Correct Foundations
This could probably be considered as more of a pre-step opposed to the first step. Before there is any chance of getting a website to rank higher on Google for any keyword its necessary to get a few basic things in place first.
An Authoritative Website
This is determined by Google’s algorithm and it is affected by a number of different factors. Everything from the age of your website, to the amount of content you have, the engagement that your page gets, the quantity and quality of back links to your website, even the number of social signals. If you want to find out more technical information on the best practices a good place to start would be Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
An Existing Network To Distribute Content
If you already have an existing network to share the new content that you create, it means you can give it a quick boost and get it a bit more traffic straight of the bat which is going to help you rank quicker. It also could help you to get some links back to specific pieces of content as some of your network may share your articles more freely once you begin to develop a relationship with them.
Just remember that it really is the story of the tortoise and the hare when it comes to building an authoritative website that ranks well. You really just want to do things right from the start so that you don’t end up having to do them again or worse get your website penalised for some questionable tactics that got you some quick wins early on. Steady growth from white hat tactics is really the only advisable way to go.
Step 2: Do Search Term Research
We call them search terms now because they aren’t just single words anymore. Gone are the days that you can just rank for a single word. Well you can but it’s pretty unlikely. Plus no one searches like that anyway. Typically, they use questions or phrases and luckily for use these longer tail search terms are typically less competitive as they are a bit more niche. But just because they are low in competition doesn’t mean that they are low in traffic. That’s why it’s so important to use a keyword tool to check search volumes for keywords you have thought of and then also to suggest others that you may not have. It’s always good to be able to check the competition and the search volume for your keywords before you go creating content targeting them, that way you can prioritise certain ones and also decided the word count that you are going to go for. Main things to look for when choosing a keyword:
You want good volume. But not too much of it.
As a general rule you don’t really want to be shooting for keywords that have a low search volume. Especially if there is a similar search term that has a lot more search volume. For instance, if there is double the number of monthly searches for _____ _____ jobs versus _____ _____ careers. It obviously makes more sense to go with the keyword that has the highest search volume. This is true except when the keyword with the higher search volume is also twice as competitive and as such is not really worth your time until you have a more authoritative website. At the end of the day you aren’t going to rank for the search term airline unless you are actually an airline.
Select a search term that is relevant to your business model
You are going to be way more likely to be successful in ranking your website for a keyword if it’s actually relevant to your business or the content on your website. You are also going to be way more likely to generate an actual return on your efforts. A website ranking for a keyword, and then sending traffic based on that keyword is only really of any value if it’s driving leads or sales. For instance, a party planner could target the search term how to cook for a party. That would make sense, however, how to cook rice is probably just lacking the relevancy required to bring anyone who is planning a party. Although it is fair to say that the more keywords you rank on the first page, the stronger your website will be, even if they are not necessarily relevant to your business. But generally, if you’re going to be putting all this effort into creating content, it’s probably just better to try and rank for keywords that will actually help to drive actual business.
It’s also a good practice at this stage to make a list of close variations for your main keywords that you are targeting. You can use them to optimise content later on so that the same pieces of content can rank for these variations also.
Step 3: Scope Out Your Competition
Once you have finally picked a keyword that you are going to go for, run it through a search on Google and see what articles come up for it already. Have a look at the competition and see what they are doing. There are a few things to pay special attention to:
Domains and URLs
How many of these are exact match domains? And does every top 10 URL have the search term in it?
Check to see if the title tags include the search term as well
The Content Type
What content is ranking? Are they long form articles? Are they product pages? Are they videos?
Size The Businesses
How big are the businesses that are ranking? Are they small businesses or are they large multinational brands? Or worse are they big online media publishers?
How Authoritative Is The Competition?
There’s a variety of different ways to check the age of a site, as well as to check its DA or DR and also the number of backlinks and referring domains that it has. When you put this data side by side with the same metrics from your website, it should give you a pretty accurate picture of where you stand in relation to them. From this you can tell how strong your plays will need to be in order to win.
You Should Constantly Be Finding New Ways To Differentiate Yourself.
If you have any hopes of beating your competition you will need to be doing at least as much as them. But realistically if they have the advantage you will need to be doing more than they are and ultimately doing it better.
Step 4: Think About Search Intent
When it comes to search engine marketing (SEM) intent is essentially what we are guessing that the person searching for is actually looking for based on their search query. The more specific that you can get with your keywords and think longtail keywords here, the easier it is going to be to work out the search intent and ultimately its going to make it easier for you to provide those searchers with what it is that they are looking for. Take a look at the following list of search terms and see how much easier it is to work out the search intent as you work your way down and get much more granular with the search terms.
- discount sunglasses
- discount sunglasses frames
- discount sunglasses frames for men
What you need to do is ask yourself what type of content is going to best serve this keyword? In the example above it would clearly be a selection of men’s sunglasses on sale. With the first search term you wouldn’t even know if the person was looking for drinking glasses. Even the second search term’s intent might be to find images of sunglasses. There is no real clear intent to purchase. Generally, if your business is ecommerce your will want to rank for search terms that have a commercial intent.
According to the founders of Google the most perfect search engine would only ever give you one result. And that’s the result that you want to be striving to be, the one that totally satisfies the searcher’s needs so that they don’t have to bounce straight back to the search results to look for a better, richer more fulfilling piece of content.
Step 5: Plan the Content
Now is the time for you to plan and conceptualise the content that you are going to create in order to rank higher on google for a certain keyword. There are a ton of different ways to go about ranking a piece of content for a keyword. These pieces of content include but are not limited to:
- An article
- A long form blog post
- A detailed product page
- An index or directory of links
- A downloadable authoritative guide
- Video or Animation
How long is it going to take to make this content rank higher on google? Who should actually be making it? Should you so it in-house or outsource it? Do you have the resources? Do you have the budget that’s required? It’s easy to get overwhelmed. But it really doesn’t matter the size of your budget, everyone has the ability to write a blog post. Granted making infographics and video content will need more resources potentially ones you will need to outsource. Sometimes one of the better ways is to create something useful that answers a search query, like some sort of tool. For instance, a mortgage calculator. Obviously, something like this would require a bit of custom WordPress development but you wouldn’t believe how effective it could be for driving new traffic and in turn new leads.
Step 6: Execution
This is where you really start sucking diesel. It’s time to execute the plan you have been working on. Again, this is not the time to start rushing any of these steps and you really shouldn’t be rushing this one either. The main aim of a search engine is to find rally high quality content that is in line with what the searcher is actually looking for. The search engines aren’t looking for keyword stuffed spammy pages that are rammed with ads and that are only designed to benefit the site owner. When it comes to organic SEO you really have to earn the traffic. It’s important that you always put your audience and the quality of your content first if you want to see a sustained growth in traffic.
Step 7: Optimize Your Content Base On Your Keyword
Realistically it would be best for steps 6 and 7 to be combined. It makes more sense to optimise your content when you are creating it or at least in the final stages or writing it. Rather than going back at the very end when it’s all done to shoehorn some keywords in. This again is where that list of variant keywords you made in step 2 comes in pretty handy. You want to try and include those keywords in your content as much as you can. But don’t be some sort of crazed keyword spam bot. Always put user experience first where possible. There is always a load of different places that go somewhat unnoticed where you can add your search terms. And we are not talking about using white text on a white background or anything questionable that would violate Google’s guidelines. We are talking image file names and alt image tags and descriptions and various places that your users won’t see but can still count for increasing the keywords that your website will rank for.
If you would like to check out a complete list of on-page SEO optimisation factors take a look at SEOmoz’s guide to the “perfect” page. You can also have a look at Wikipedia as their pages usually have some exemplar on-page optimisation.
Before you go ahead and pop that publish button it can sometimes be worth having a quick look over your keyword research again. Sometimes your content can evolve a bit as you are creating it and you just want to check that the content you have produced is still aligned with the keywords that you want to rank for and the intent those search queries likely have.
Step 8: Hit Publish
It’s that time! You can now go ahead and send your content out into the big bad world. You may want to think about scheduling this step depending on what your content is. If your content is evergreen than you don’t need to worry so much about this. But it could be important if your content is somehow tied a news story that may break soon or an event that is coming up. There may also be a requirement to coordinate stuff with a PR department, for instance if it was content relating to a new product release.
Step 9: Promote Your Post
This is a huge step that is quite often forgotten and it can have an impact on how you rank higher on Google. The second you publish your post you should be promoting it in any way that you can. For big and original pieces of content you could go ahead and do a bit of media outreach prior to the content going live. The aim of this game is to get as many eyeballs looking at your content as you can, before it even has the time to rank for any search terms.
Share content on your social accounts
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn you name it you should share it on their. If you have an account on it well then you should be sharing it there. You can even share it on your personal accounts to. Whatever you have. If you have written some quality content, then you should want to share it.
Use social buttons to increase shares of your content
You want to make it as physically easy as possible for your readers to share your content. There’s the old saying if you don’t ask. So, the easiest way to do this is with some simple share buttons. While we’re on the topic it would be great if you could go ahead and give this post a share. All the links are always appreciated.
Build links into the content
Google likes to see links. To your site and from your site, they just love seeing links because that is pretty much how their search engine works. It helps to show that you are contributing and doing your part. So, go ahead and share some links. But just make sure that they are high quality. You don’t want to be giving links to any spammy looking sites that might reflect badly on the quality of your site, particularly in the eyes of Google’s crawl bots. If you want to rank higher on Google you need to increase your reputation with them in any way possible.
Step 10: Analyze Your Efforts
You are nearly done! It’s the last step. When you think of the internet you need to think of it as a living and ever changing medium, and what that means is that it is never too late to improve the optimisation of your content. You can take a look at your keyword ranking either manually or with a rank checking tool. You can also use Google analytics to see what keywords are bringing traffic to what landing pages. Sometimes they aren’t the same ones that you were initially targeting. If after 6 weeks or so you have not started to rank higher on google for the keywords you had intended that content to rank for, then that means you have some more work to do. You will need to go back over your content and ensure that it is actually optimised correctly for that search term, that the content is of high quality and that the page is actually visible to the search. It could always just be that the keyword you originally were going for was just too competitive in relation to the strength of your site and as such you may need to reduce your expectations for now. Go after the less competitive keywords until you have built up a higher level of authority.
And that’s pretty much it! How easy was all that? This is basically a step by step guide that has been used over and over to rank higher on Google for a load of keywords for us and for many others as well. It doesn’t matter what niche your business is. You can use this process to begin to rank higher on google for a keyword too.