12 Nov Find out how to Rank #1 on Google for Any Keyword!
It’s the dream of every website owner to rank #1 on Google. And so everyone wants to know how to get to that top spot for their targeted keywords. But how can you know the route to position #1 when it is that Google changes what “number one” in SERPs means pretty often.
That’s why Small SEO Tools is putting together this guide to help you navigate your way to the top.
But there’s a question:
WHY IS A TOP RANKING ON GOOGLE IMPORTANT?
With search engines rated the most trusted source for finding information in the world, organic visits remain the most valuable traffic. Reason? Organic traffic consists of conversion-ready, engaged visitors who’re already sold on your topic. You aren’t trying to force-feed them your words, they’re already looking for your content. Search engines send the most traffic to websites beating social media by 300%, but to take full advantage of the opportunity, you have to stay within the first page of search results.
Why? Research finds that about 75% of users never click past the first page of search results.
Another study finds that results in the #1 spot get far more clicks than results in others positions.
Precisely, the #1 rankings in Google get an average of 36.4% click-through rate (CTR), while the second page rankings get a measly 1.5% CTR.
Thus, reaching that top position would mean increased traffic to your website and the potential for sales to catapult. Also, we’ve found that ORGANIC LISTINGS get more clicks than PAID ADS in the SERPs.
Now, the fact that top ranking packs loads of values and benefits opens door for so much competition. This begs another question:
HOW EASY IS IT TO RANK #1 ON GOOGLE?
We are going to be frank with you, friend:
The hard, cold truth is that it is NOT EASY at all to rank number one…
…especially for popular keywords that are being targeted by industry heavyweights. It’s even worse if you’re just starting out. Even the most skilled and knowledgeable marketers struggle with getting the top ranking spot because of the competition factor associated with most key terms. Almost every industry already has long-standing players who have been publishing content for years, getting thousands of backlinks, and doing SEO like a boss.
The domain authorities of some of these top competitors are in the range of 90+ and that alone is going to blow any new entry out of the water. So as a “newbie” with low domain authority, a tiny backlink profile, and not so much content pieces, you are going to have to do things a bit differently to gain any traction. You have to readjust your strategy and literally make purposeful efforts to show up for your targeted keywords.
But first, decide what you want to rank number one for.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO RANK #1 ON GOOGLE FOR?
There is a handful of things you may want to rank #1 for, including:
- Your business name
- Your service in your city
- Your service in your country
- Your service or product industry-wide
- Industry keywords
Each of this has its own level of difficulty from “easy” to “overly hard” and requires a certain amount of input to attain. For instance, it is usually easy to rank #1 for your own business name and picking a unique brand name would go a long way to see you there. On the contrary, ranking #1 for your service or product industry-wide is practically difficult as there are many businesses competing for the same search terms. Thus, it takes more than keywording but advanced optimizations like quality link building.
After you’ve decided what to rank for, it’s time to decide “the how” — i.e, how do you want to rank?
Typically, there are a few common ways to get to spot one. These are:
- Natural/organic listings (usually free and includes featured snippets, blogs, local listings , news, images, videos, maps, places, and social updates.
- Paid Google ads
It turns out that the organic listing is the most valuable because you do not pay per click and you get a lot more traffic through organic search.
With that in mind, the rest of the steps in this post to ranking #1 will be focusing on ranking ORGANICALLY.
WHAT TO DO TO RANK #1 ON GOOGLE
1. Play by Google’s rules
First things first, you have to follow THE rules.
You want to rank on Google. Google has rules for you. If you must rank, you must follow the rules. Simple!
Google’s webmaster guidelines clearly document the practices that Google approves of and those they don’t.
For instance, in those terms and conditions, Google makes it obvious that they will penalise your site or worse, remove it entirely from its index of the web if you’re involved in illicit practices for higher rankings.
“We strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the Quality Guidelines below, which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise affected by an algorithmic or manual spam action. If a site has been affected by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.” GOOGLE 2018
So you will have to stay within Google’s orb if you’re aiming for #1 spot on their platform. They own it, remember!
To begin with, use the tools that Google has provided (Google Search Console, Google My Business, etc.) to configure your website to meet their best practices.
Configuring your website to meet Google’s requirements is a prerequisite for you to do well on SERPs.
2. Niche it down
Ranking on the top spot is ALL ABOUT COMPETITION and Google recognizes this. The more popular the terms you want to rank for and the more focused the niche you want to rank in, the higher the level of competition you are going to face. It’s this competition that Google will use to rate your site…which means your ranking indirectly depends on what your competitors do or not do. So to run a successful SEO, you have to understand the competitive landscape.
As a small business, you don’t want to be competing against large organizations with outrageous marketing budgets. Of course it’s possible to outrank them using tactical SEO practices, but chances are that you will end up LOSING [your time and money] facing off these giants.
This is why it’s so important to first focus on a niche.
Instead of trying to compete with big companies for popular keywords, niche down and become a “big fish in a small pond.” Once you adjust your strategy to focus on a particular area of the market, it’ll be easier to rank faster for any niche keyword that’s relevant to your new strategy.
And talking about keywords:
3. Get your keywords RIGHT
Like you read above, you shouldn’t try to compete for extremely popular keywords. Those are taken by big competitors and may not come easy. A good place to start is to target and dominate long-tail keywords. They are far less competitive and have the potential to convert better than short-tail ones.
Also, there are more long-tail keywords out there than there are big, popular short-tail key terms. So finding them won’t be a problem.
While a top short-tail keyword can drive tons of traffic, ONE long-tail keyword may not. So the trick is to combine a bunch of them. When you do, you’re sure to get a lot of traffic from a set of long-tail keywords.
In short, if done well, a summation of long-tail keywords can drive a lot more traffic than popular short-tail ones.
Amazon makes 57% of their sales from long-tail keywords.
Amazon’s sales have long been on an upward growth trend that correlates to the company’s decision to embrace long-tail optimization.
Long-tail searches also make up the majority of searches on Google. The search giant estimates that 70% of search traffic is from long-tail keywords
The reason is that long-tail keyword searchers look for specific information, whereas short-tail keywords are more general.
Here’s an example:
Short-tail keyword: “WordPress themes”
Long-tail keyword: “free responsive WordPress themes for blogs”
You should target these long-tail keywords because they’re easier to rank for, and can drive a good amount of “specific” traffic. And that means they’ll usually take less time, less money, and less competition.
Need help with keywords? Check out our free keywords suggestion tool that is trusted by hundreds of thousands of people.
4. Publish loads of compelling and useful content
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” Google, 2018 If you want to rank at the top, you aren’t going to be able to do that WITHOUT CONTENT. Hence, you need to continually and regularly produce and publish content… a lot.
See content as the substance that connects your site to Google’s #1 position.
But don’t just add content for the sake of it; make your content useful, valuable, high-quality, relevant, unique, and compelling.
Such content will help you boost your rankings in three key ways:
- First, more content means more keywords, and therefore more opportunities for Google to return your site in the search results.
- Second, more content means more links to your site because people will be linking back to you. And backlinks are super important for high ranking.
- Third, more content means longer dwell time and reduced bounce rate. These two are some of the most important ranking signals in the new era of SEO (RankBrain).
We recommend that you write more posts than your competitors. This is so important because:
- One, writing more posts gives you a better shot at outranking your competitors, generally. When Google notices that you are publishing a lot more valuable content pieces than your competitors, they’ll start pushing more of your stuff to higher positions. Thus if your competitors are writing 16+ posts per month (which is the average number of posts most blogs publish per month), then writing 5-10 posts a month won’t cut it. You can’t reasonably expect to outrank a competitor or catch up to an industry leader by writing less.
- Two, the more content you write, the more of your pages that get indexed, and the more traffic you bring to your site. Then, the more people that visit you site, the greater your popularity and Google recognizes popularity as a ranking factor and will thus push your site upward.
In summary, you need to write like your business depends on it…because based on statistics, it does!
And it can’t be any old-style 500-word blog post that you slap together in an hour. The top results on Google (first page) have an average of 1890 words, according to study.
5. Perform on-page optimization with your keywords in mind.
On-page SEO (aka, on-page optimization) is still largely considered one of the most useful search engine optimization to-do. It will be a DISSERVICE to select the right keywords, create useful content, and then DO NOTHING to optimize those for the best possible position in SERPs.
Just in case you didn’t know, on-page SEO involves the optimization of the elements that exist within your website, including content, site speed, visual elements, meta tags, meta descriptions, permalink structure, internal links, etc.
On-page SEO is necessary for your pages to get indexed properly and accorded the top positions they deserve as well as for traffic and engagement.
For instance, optimizing headlines and meta descriptions for searchers can result in a 10% increase in click-through-rate (CTR). And an increase in CTR means you’re on your way to ranking higher because Google RankBrain loves high CTR.
6. Build so much links (off-page SEO)
On-page SEO is not all there is to do. In fact, the other side of SEO is equally important.
It’s called off-page optimization and it has to do with all the things you do off your website to claim better SERPs rankings.
While off-page SEO includes things like social signal optimization and local SEO, the majority of it consists of link building activities. If there’s anything the big competitors can use to beat smaller players, it will be their scads of backlinks.
Backlinks are so important that Google even calls it one of its top three ranking signals, along with content and RankBrain. For the best backlink analysis, check out our freemium backlink tools.
TO CONCLUDE…RANKING #1 IS MORE THAN THE CLIMBING
After climbing to the top, you have to figure out a way to stay there. Competitors are continually vying for that same spot and any misdeed on your part could result in a drop. Now, if you were to claim a top spot in a competitive industry without quality links and relevant content over a period of sufficient time, that can raise a red flag to Google.
There have been sites that got up to the top using low quality techniques, but got dropped back, sometimes even up to 3 pages back. It could happen at once or over a period of a few months. Some get delisted while some get a manual spam action.
If you are at the top of a COMPETITIVE result, you can bet that competitors will try to do everything under their power to take it over from you. But it doesn’t stop there; Google will also take a closer look at your site. That might mean a deeper algorithmic analysis of your site or even a manual review. Google has tens of thousands of manual reviewers who rate the quality of results pages and the sites that feature in them.
Below are some low-quality signals that Google reviewers look out for:
- Malicious, harmful, or deceptive practices
- Bad user experience
- Fake or inaccurate information
- Untrustworthiness and lack of credibility
- Negative reputation and bad reviews
- Auto-generated content
- Unmaintained websites
- Website containing lots of spammy comments
- Poor page design
- Keyword stuffing
- And more.