Though Google’s algorithms are complicated (and mysterious), there is no mystery about how to rank your website or even a single web page in Google. Good is a calculator. it can’t read your mind and it has no moral compass – it doesn’t really know good from the bad.
Google relies on input and signals from users to not what is worth ranking and what is not. While this may make ranking a competitive business, it is not complicated. Google uses these signals to determine your websites’:
- User experience and,
…for certain keywords.
Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to put yourself in the running for a first-page position is keyword research. It’s critical. Keyword data – properly researched and applied to your site is the art of good ranking for any website.
1. Choose your Keywords According to their Value
By value I mean:
- High Converting and,
- High Volume (5,000 monthly searches or more is a reasonable guide)
Let me give you an example of high converting. Out of 1.5 billion results, I rank on the first page of Google for the phrase, “First page of Google”. This is nice, and just the way it should be. But, the majority of the searches for that keyword are probably not looking for SEO Services.
So, it’s high volume, but not necessarily high converting for me.
For example, in my line of work, a high converting phrase would be, “Expert SEO Services”. People looking to hire someone for SEO would likely type in a phrase like that.
One easy way to begin to research keywords n your niche that are both high volume and high converting is to use Google’s own search.
Search for the phrase you think your target audience is likely to type into Google. I will use, “real estate in palm springs” since I tend to have a lot of clients in real estate who are looking for this kind of SEO support.
Then, have a look at three things.
- Google Adwords results – these have been carefully chosen to match your search
- Google Suggestions – these appear at the bottom and reflect Google’s idea of a relevant alternative
- The Competition in the first five results – check out what’s on the corresponding page
Suggestions from Google Search
Notice that there is a vast difference in suggestions. I have highlighted the variations that might apply to someone wanting to sell real estate. So, of course, in addition to these variations, you might also include phrases about homes for sale, house and property for sale, etc.
Take half a dozen or so of the most valuable (to your niche) keyword suggestions and Adwords results for your niche. The ones that are most likely to send you qualified – or high converting clients.
Add them all in to Google Keyword Planner and look at the Volume.
Condo’s and houses are different things, so I have weeded out the Condo’s in this example.
I would then examine one competitor. In this case, I am going to ignore Trulia, Zillow, and the like and go for a one-man band appearing in 4th place on Google.
What I am looking for here are any areas I can improve upon regarding this competitor’s result and corresponding page. I go in to more detail about how to take advantage of these results in Google in my little post about publishing content online.
From this small amount of research, I can begin to build my content.
2. Only Go after one or two Keywords per Page
Limit your goal. Don’t go for every keyword you can. It’s better to write ten pages, each targeting a different keyword than one page targeting ten. Those ten pages, if properly optimized using long-tail keywords and the internal linking of a content hub (see here for details on how to do this), are going to yield a greater volume of high converting clients than the one page will normally do.
In this example (real estate), I am going to focus on two keyword phrases only:
- Palm Springs Real Estate and,
- Homes for Sale in Palm Springs
They are going to appear:
- In my Title and URL – once
- In my Meta Description – once each.
- In the article once each.
In the hope of getting this result…
In this example, my main keyword is going to be “Homes for Sale in Palm Springs”. I could make this a longer tail keyword by adding, ‘California’, or ‘CA’, to the Title and Description or by adding he word, ‘Find’ to the start of the keyword.
3. Optimise Your Entire Page for those Keywords
People ignore on-site optimization to their own disadvantage. It’s not enough to have a keyword-rich title and description, the whole page – and the whole site – needs to be just as well produced for the keywords you are aiming to rank for.
On-Page Factors Include:
- Optimized images with Alt and title tags filled in
- lean Code
- Fast Page
- Mobile friendly
- Original Content of more than 500 words
Putting your main keywords or a closely related keyword in bold – once, max twice – like this, “… To find the right family Home for Sale in Palm Springs, California you need to consider….” can help indicate the subject and corresponding keyword phrase you are talking about.
Having a Logical hierarchy of headings (H1, H2, H3, H4, etc), with H1 being my Title and either H2 or H3 being my subheadings is also critical.
If any of these things are absent, Google will actively push down the ranking you might enjoy by orders of magnitude.
I have watched websites multiply their traffic and search position almost immediately just by some simple on-site optimization.
This is the point where we also have a closer look at the competitor we are wanting to out-gun.
Using SEO Quake (an Add-on in Chrome and Firefox) to assess his content and Open Link Profiler to assess his existing backlinks, a few things stand out about the competitor’s page mentioned above.
I will list them briefly along with a strategy to outdo him.
The site has a number of high-quality links pointing to it from home-style websites – Outreach for a Guest post to these sites and similar might be worth a look in
However, from SEO Quake I learn that:
- He has over optimized his description and keyword meta tags
- Not one of his H1-H5 is optimized – there’s an opportunity
- Images are without Alt tags – another area I can improve upon
- Text to HTML ratio is 30.74% – (800 words) I could improve on that.
Look at which keywords (or words) are bold. Look at the position of your competitor’s keywords.
You can also use SEO Quake’s Addon to look at the keyword density.
Look for ways you can improve on what your competitor has done. What value could you add to a competing page to make it better. Go for 5-10% improvement ion every area.
4. Build Relevant High DA Links to those Pages
For today’s Search Engines Optimisation, quality over quantity is how you should think about Keywords. It’s also the way you should think about links. When it comes to driving SEO at scale nothing beats Guest Posting.
People shy away from this but not only is it easy to do once you know how it is also very satisfying. It’s nice to build legitimate links to your site by contributing to other people’s domains.
Here are the key points for getting yourself on to other sites by guest posting:
- Have the post written before you reach out so you have something to show.
- Check it for originality (even if you wrote it) using Copyscape or Plagiarisma.net
- Include links to authority sites
- Use your brand name 90% of the time in the anchor text
Include your keyword in the title and once in the body of the article
If guest posting or using a guest posting service is not your thing you could offer a link to your content to replace a dead link of the same topic on another site. You can also offer up an infographic with a link back to your content on an existing article on another site which is relevant to your keyword.
If all of that is beyond you, hire an SEO service that is good at guest posting high-quality and original work. I have a hit rate of around 1 in 5, meaning for every five sites I approach, I usually score one guest post.
It’s not that I am overly spectacular at outreach – or guest posting. It’s just that practice makes.. well, makes you at least average in the guest post batting department.
5. Build Quality Links to those Links
One more thing to really make your keyword research pay off.
If you have built a number of guest posts, infographics or other content, why not boost their link value by linking to them?
This is what is often described as tier two link building (your guest post being a tier one link). My experience tells me that a boosted tier one link can be 5-10 times more powerful than creating another guest post.
Some strategies for boosting your keywords via a tier two link include:
- Social Media
- Bookmarking Sites
- Creating Authority Property Pages (WordPress, Rebel Mouse, Tumblr, etc)
- Purchasing high PR Blog Posts
The idea is simple. You have created a good keyword-rich article on your site. You’ve pointed to it via guest posting. Now boost the link value of that guest post by pointing a truckload of lesser quality links to that guest post.
The link authority will increase and boost the keyword value for your own article.
Just be sure not to point bad links directly at your own site (or anyone else’s). Also be sure to use plenty of generic anchor texts for those tier two links (go here, click this link, visit this site, etc).
Continue month by month to build a few more links either tier one (guest posting) on high authority sites or (and) tier two links that point to your guest posts.
Repeat this keyword strategy for all your articles as well as maintain good internal links that help boost the authority of your most important keywords.