Got your mind set on a keyword? Want to see your website on the first page of a Google search results page? Brace yourself: Unless you’re Wikipedia or the Los Angeles Times, it won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. At Arpi Design studios we do it all the time!
Ranking for a keyword in organic search engine results is a process consisting mainly of repetition. Ranking for a keyword is a slow and steady process, especially if your website is new and you’re trying to rank for a popular keyword. Approach content marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) seriously to start making a dent in your marketing strategy. This includes factors like ranking, traffic, and sales!
Here are the ten steps to rank for a keyword in Google:
Step 1: Lay the Foundation
This first step is a collection of prerequisites to prepare for the keyword ranking process. There are some basics that you should have in place prior to beginning:
– A strong website – the longer your website has been around accumulating clout and links, the better. It’s also vital that your website follow SEO best practices. You can begin with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines if you don’t
know what this means.
– A network to draw on – In order to rank more efficiently for a given keyword, it’s very useful to have an existing network to share your new content with. This can be in the form of a blog following, a following on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or email contacts you send out regular newsletters and subscriptions to. If you don’t have any of these in place for your website, it’s time to begin thinking about link building as relationship building!
It’s important not to rush these things in your preparation for keyword ranking. Network-building takes time and cannot be achieved overnight.
Step 2: Do Primary Keyword Research
You may already have a keyword in mind for your website ranking, but it’s important to fact-check your instincts. Use different keyword tools to get an idea about the search volume for the keyword before finalizing your keyword choice. Some important factors to consider are:
Go for a keyword with good volume, but not too much volume. Keep in mind that you don’t want to choose a keyword that has relatively low search volume compared to a similar term that’s much more popular. For example, there are usually twice as many searches for “jobs” versus “careers.” Choosing a keyword with the highest volume isn’t a good idea either, because some keywords are just too competitive and not worth your time and effort. For example, you’re not going to rank for “airline” unless you’re actually an airline!
Choose a keyword that correlates directly with your website and business. You’re more likely to succeed in ranking for a keyword if the word is relevant to your website and what you have to offer. You’re also more likely to get real return on your ranking when your chosen term is relevant to your website. Keep in mind that rankings by themselves aren’t valuable – what’s valuable is the traffic, leads, and ultimate sales they produce. For example, a party-planning business can target “how to cook for a party” although it may have a higher search volume than “how to cook rice,” which isn’t very relevant to their business or their target audience.
At this step of the keyword ranking process, you should have a list of equivalent variations on your primary keyword. This list will be helpful in writing and optimizing content for your site in the future.
Step 3: Analyze the Competition
Once you’ve chosen your keyword, do a search for it on Google and other search engines to look at the competition. Consider the following when looking at the top 10 results:
- The domains and URLs – how many are exact match domains? Does every single URL in the top 10 results include the keyword?
- The titles – How do the title tags incorporate the keyword?
- The type of content – What content is in the results? Product pages? Blog posts? Videos?
- The types of businesses ranking – Are they huge companies? Small businesses?
- Longevity of websites – Use a plugin like SEO for Firefox to check the age of the websites, the size of their link profiles, etc.
Keep in mind that you need a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. What are you offering that they don’t already offer? If you’re going to surpass your competitors, you should be doing what their doing, but doing it better and doing more to brand yourself and your unique product or service.
Step 4: Consider User Intent
The more specific the keyword, the easier it is to understand the user’s intent, which makes it easier to serve up what the user is looking for. In website marketing, “intent” is the closest thing we have to guessing what the person using at the other end of the search query is looking for. Consider the following keywords and pay attention to how much easier it is to guess the intent of the user from words alone as you go down the list:
- discount eyeglasses
- discount eyeglass frames
- discount eyeglass frames for kids
What kind of result best suits the keyword here? It would be a selection of kid’s eyeglasses for sale. With the term “glasses,” you don’t even understand if the user is looking for eyeglasses or drinking glasses. With the term “eyeglasses,” the user might just be looking for picture of eyeglasses without any intent to purchase. An e-commerce business is mostly going to try to rank for commercial keywords relevant to their products.
The founders of Google have said that the perfect search engine would return only one result. You want to be that one result that the user is looking for so they don’t go back to the search results looking for a better match.
Step 5: Visualize the Content
In this step, you need to begin conceptualizing the content for your website. The content you create should incorporate and therefore rank for your chosen keyword. There are many ways to rank for a keyword within website content, including the following:
- Blog post
- Product page
- Directory of links (to other pages on your website or around the web)
- Authoritative guide
Some questions you might have about content are:
Who should write the content?
How long will it take to create the content?
Will content writing be done in-house or be outsourced?
Do you have the proper resources and budget?
Don’t give up! No matter the size of your budget, you have the ability to write an article or a blog post. Content like videos and infographics may require more resources. Maybe the best way to answer a search query is with some sort of handy tool, like a mortgage calculator. This will require some web developing resources.
Step 6: Act
This is where all of your research is put to work. Act on your plan. Don’t rush any of these 10 steps, but it’s especially important not to rush this one. Remember that quality is more important than quantity. Search engines are increasingly looking for high-quality content that benefits the person conducting the search, not keyword-stuffed spam pages full of ads that benefit you (the advertiser). If you would prefer instant results instead of putting in the effort it required to earn free organic search traffic, inquire about PPC. Nobody said that SEO was easy!
Step 7: Optimize for Your Keyword
Step 6 and 7 should actually be one big step. Optimize your content as you’re creating it instead of adding content here and there later. This is where the list of keywords you came up with in step 2 will come in handy. Use those keywords where you can in your content, while taking care not to sound repetitive or robotic. Keep in mind that there are also “invisible” places for keywords such as image file names (users won’t see these if they’re not searching for them, but they can increase your keyword rankings). Never use white text on a white background or other scams which violate Google guidelines.
For a complete list of on-page optimization elements, search SEO Moz’s guide to the “perfect” website page. Another tip is to copy Wikipedia, whose pages have great on-page optimization.
For a full list of on-page optimization factors, check out SEOmoz’s guide to the “perfect” page. Another good tip is to copy Wikipedia, whose pages tend to have stellar on-page optimization.
Before you publish your page, it’s a good idea to quickly double-check your keyword research. It’s possible that your content has changed and evolved during the development phase, and you’ll need to make sure that the relevance still exists between keyword and content.
Step 8: Publish
It’s finally time to present your content to the world! You may need to be careful about the timing of publishing your content, depending on the type of content it is. This is relevant for content that’s tied to the news, a specific event, or a trend. You can also coordinate with PR or other parties interested in your business when launching content related to a new product or service.
Step 9: Promote
This step is very important and should take place immediately after publishing. In fact, you can promote and provide a “sneak-peek” of what’s to come prior to publishing to create the suspense in your audience. Do what you can to get your content to as many internet users as possible before it even has a chance to rank for the keyword:
- Share your content through the business’s social accounts – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. You can share the content through your personal accounts as well if it’ll reach more users.
- Use social media buttons, links, or widgets on your website to promote independent sharing and make it easier for users to keep the chain going. They’re more likely to share or retweet your content if all they have to do is click a button.
- Build links to your content – Whatever the future may be of PageRank, link building is still a major, although annoying, part of SEO. Increasing page views and social shares will help you build links, in turn bringing you closer to earning that keyword ranking.
Step 10: Analyze
You’re almost done! The world wide web is a living organism, and it’s never too late to optimize your content. Check your keyword ranking regularly (make sure you’re signed out and not seeing personalized results) with a rank checking tool. Use your results to see what keywords your content is actually ranking for, because they might not be the exact ones you targeted initially. If after a couple of weeks you’re not ranking for the targeted keywords, make sure that your content:
- Is actually optimized
- Is actually high-quality
- Is actually visible
It may be possible that your targeted keyword is too competitive and you need to scale back to a keyword with less search engine result volume. Try targeting a less competitive keyword until you’ve built up more authority.
That’s it! This is the same process we follow to rank for hundreds of keywords related to search marketing for various websites. Whatever your business or target audience, you can make the same process work for you. So GET STARTED and GET RESULTS!