In 10 Easy Steps, Learn How to Rank for a Keyword

Have you set your sights on a keyword? Do you want your website to be on Google’s top page for a specific search term? Prepare yourself: it won’t be simple unless you’re Wikipedia or The New York Times. But it’s also not impossible. Seriously, it’s something we do all the time!

Ranking for a keyword in organic search is a process that can be repeated. You won’t always get the results you want, especially if you’re a new website attempting to rank for a big term, but if you take content marketing and SEO seriously, you can start to see results. Rankings, traffic, and sales, to name a few.

The following are the ten steps to ranking for a keyword in Google.

Step 1: Lay the Groundwork

This is more of a preparatory step than a starting step. Before you can hope to rank for any random keyword, you’ll need to have some fundamentals in place. These prerequisites are as follows:

  • A solid website – The longer your website has been around, the more authority and links it has accumulated. It’s also critical that your entire site adheres to SEO best practises — if you’re not sure what that means, start with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
  • A network to draw on — In order to rank rapidly for a term, it’s really helpful to have a built-in network to share new content with – a blog following, an audience on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, email connections you can reach out to for occasional link assistance. If you’re not sure what it implies, it’s time to start thinking of link building in terms of relationship building.

Don’t speed through this in your quest for Internet money. If you don’t do things correctly the first time, you’ll have to redo them later.

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Step 2: Do Your Initial Keyword Research

You may believe you know what keyword you want to target, but double-check your assumptions. Before you finalize your keyword choice, use different keyword tools to obtain a sense of the search volume and competition for the keyword. Your primary concerns will be:

  • Choosing a keyword with decent volume but not too much volume – In general, you don’t want to target a keyword with low relative search volume if there is a lot more popular equivalent phrase. For example, there are typically more than twice as many searches for “blah blah jobs” as there are for “blah blah careers.” However, don’t always opt for the phrase with the highest volume or difficulty; some keywords are simply too competitive and not worth your effort. You won’t rank for “airline” unless you actually are an airline.
  • Choosing a keyword that is related to your business model – You are more likely to rank for a keyword if the term is relevant to your site and business. You’re also more likely to see a meaningful return on your ranking – keep in mind that rankings aren’t especially effective unless they drive worthwhile traffic and leads. A party planning company, for example, would target “how to prepare for a party,” but “how to cook rice” is unlikely to be relevant to them or their target audience.

Make a list of close variations on your principal keyword at this stage of the process. These will be useful later on when writing and optimising your content.

Step 3: Check Out the Competition

Once you’ve determined on a keyword, run a search for it on Google and a few other search engines to discover what your competitors are currently doing. Pay special attention to:

  • How many domains and URLs are exact match domains? Is the keyword present in every URL in the top ten?
  • The titles – How are the keywords incorporated into the title tags?
  • What kind of content is ranked – product pages? What about blog posts? Videos?
  • The types of firms that rank — Are they household names? What about small businesses? What about news websites?
  • How authoritative those sites are – You can use a plugin to determine the age of the top ten sites, the size of their link profiles, and so on.

You’re seeking for ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. To defeat your competitors, you must do as least as much as they do. You should ideally be doing more and doing it better.

Step 4: Consider Intent

The more detailed the keyword (think long-tail keywords), the easier it is to determine the searcher’s intent and serve up what those searchers are likely looking for. In search marketing, “intent” is our best judgment as to what the individual utilizing the search query truly wants. Consider the following keywords, and observe how much easier it is to deduce the intent from the words alone as you progress down the list:

  • glasses
  • eyeglasses
  • cheap eyeglasses
  • frames for glasses at a bargain
  • children’s eyeglass frames at a bargain

Consider what type of material best serves the term. It would certainly be a range of kid’s spectacles for sale in this scenario. You can’t tell if the person is seeking spectacles or drinking glasses based on the first term. Even for the second, the user may simply be looking for images of eyeglasses; there is no obvious desire to purchase. An e-commerce site will primarily strive to rank for commercial keywords.

According to Google’s founders, the ideal search engine would return only one result. You want to be the one result that meets the searcher’s needs so they don’t return to the search results in search of a better response.

Step 5: Conceptualize the Content

Next, make a plan for the actual content you’ll be producing that will hopefully rank for your chosen keyword. There are numerous ways to rank for a keyword, including but not limited to:

  • a publication
  • A blog entry
  • A product landing page
  • A link index or directory (to other pages on your site or around the web)
  • An authoritative manual
  • Infographics
  • a video clip

How long will the content creation process take? Who should design it? Will you handle everything in-house or outsource it? Do you have all of the necessary resources and budget? Don’t give up: you have the power to create a blog post regardless of your size or budget. More resources will be required for content such as infographics and films. Sometimes using a tool, such as a mortgage calculator, is the best method to answer a search inquiry. If this is the case, engineering resources will be required.

Step 6: Execute

This is the point when the rubber meets the road. Put your strategy into action. Again, you should not rush any of these stages, but this one is extremely crucial. Search engines are increasingly looking for high-quality material that benefits the searcher, rather than keyword-stuffed spam or pages full of adverts that only benefit you. Investigate PPC if you’d rather buy traffic than put in the effort required to get “free” organic search traffic. Your mantra should be “SEO isn’t easy.”

Step 7: Optimize for Your Keyword

Steps 6 and 7 should, in fact, be combined. Rather than implementing optimization after the fact, optimize your content as it is being created. This is when the keyword list you created in step 2 comes in handy. Use those keywords in your text as often as possible, but not to the point of sounding like a mad robot. Remember that there are many “invisible” areas for keywords, and I’m not talking about utilizing white text on a white backdrop or anything else that goes against Google standards. I’m talking about things like image file names — visitors won’t see these unless they’re looking for them, but they can help your keyword rankings.

Check out SEOmoz’s guide to the “ideal” page for a comprehensive list of on-page optimization factors. Another useful tip is to mimic Wikipedia, whose pages have excellent on-page optimization.

It’s a good idea to quickly double-check your keyword research before hitting “publish.” It is probable that your content has developed during the development and creation phases, and you will need to ensure that the keyword and content are still aligned.

Step 8: Publish

It’s (almost) time to release your material into the wild. You may need to be cautious about timing this step depending on the sort of content. This isn’t normally a factor for evergreen content, but it might be for content that’s related to something in the news, an event, or a trend. When introducing material linked to a new product or service, you may also need to cooperate with PR or other interested parties at your firm.

Step 9: Promote

This is a vital stage that should happen right after publishing — in fact, for large pieces of material, it’s ideal if you can perform some media outreach before the item goes online. Make every effort to get your material in front of as many eyes as possible before it has a chance to rank for the keyword:

  • Share your material on your company’s social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. If possible, do this through your personal accounts as well.
  • Use social icons or widgets on your website to encourage independent sharing — Make it simple for readers and viewers to continue the chain. If all they have to do is click a button, they are more inclined to tweet or share your post.
  • Create links to your content – Regardless of the future of PageRank, link building is still an important aspect of SEO (even if it is the most annoying part). If you want to learn more about link building, check out our blog archive.

Accumulating page views and social shares will assist you in accumulating links, which will assist you in earning that ranking.

Step 10: Analyze

You’re not finished yet! The web is a live medium, and it is never too late to improve the quality of your material. Check your keyword ranking manually (make sure you’re not signed in and that you’re not seeing highly tailored results) or with a rank checking tool. Use your analytics to see what keywords your content is ranking for — they may not be the ones you first targeted. If you aren’t ranking for the proper keywords after a few weeks, you have more work to do. Check that your content:

  • Is it really optimised?
  • Is genuinely high-quality 
  • Is genuinely apparent

It’s also conceivable that the keyword you choose is very competitive, in which case you should cut back your aim. Until you’ve established more authority, try targeting less competitive keywords.

That’s all! This is the method we use to rank for hundreds of search marketing keywords. Whatever your business niche, you may apply the same technique to it. So START NOW!

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