Every business and website owner dreams of ranking number one on Google. The reasons are clear: reaching that top spot (or even one of the top three spots) would mean increased traffic to your site, visibility and the potential for sales to catapult your business ahead of the competition.
Unfortunately, high rankings rarely happen by chance. Even the most skilled and knowledgeable marketers struggle with getting the top-ranking spot. So, how can a regular business owner hope to achieve this feat? While there’s no way to absolutely guarantee high rankings, this post will look at some strategies anyone can use to seriously increase their chances of claiming that #1 spot.
1. Go niche.
Part of succeeding at SEO is understanding the competitive landscape. As a small business owner, you don’t want to be competing with large organizations that have seemingly-unlimited marketing budgets. While there’s always a chance you can outrank them, more likely you’ll just end up wasting your time and money.
This is why it’s so important to go niche. Here’s what I mean by this: Instead of trying to compete with big companies for extremely popular (and usually more general) keywords, drill down and become a “big fish in a small pond.”
Keep in mind, this will often mean shifting the focus of your business from more general to more specific products or services. For instance, instead of exclusively offering general home renovation services, you could consider specializing in “one day bathroom renos” or “custom kitchen makeovers.” These more specific keyword phrases will likely be much easier to rank for, which will mean you can start ranking that much faster.
2. Choose realistic keywords.
Anyone can get the top spot in Google, if they target the right keywords. For instance, if I optimized a page for “blue wubbie nubbie doll,” I could probably grab the top stop in a couple of days. However (and it’s a big however), would I actually want to rank for this phrase? Probably not, considering it’s not even a real product.
My point is this: If you choose keywords that are obscure enough, it’s easy to rank. Of course, we don’t want to rank for obscure keywords; we want to rank for keywords that people are actually looking for. Real queries that someone typed in their browser.
Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, look for relevant keywords that have a decent number of searches, but little competition. Once your website has a bit more authority and you’re ranking for a number of easier keywords, you can always move on to more competitive keywords that will earn you more traffic.
3. Optimize each piece of content for your keywords.
Once you’ve “gone niche” and have chosen some easier keywords, it’s time to use those keywords in strategic places on your page. While you certainly don’t want to overuse your keywords, it is important to use them in a variety of ways within your content. Most importantly, focus on using them in your:
- URL: For instance, instead of www.yoursite.com/sh8xks6.htm, use www.yoursite.com/your-keywords-here.
- Title tag.
- Headings: H1, H2, etc.
- Alt image tag and image captions, where appropriate.
- Throughout your content.
Keep in mind that Google (and your readers) favor comprehensive content that does a great job of covering the topic at hand. So, while it’s important to use your keywords somewhere in your content, that’s no substitute for writing longer, more in-depth content that really does justice to the topic.
4. Add tons of content to your site.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of B2B companies now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. This involves using a wide variety of content-type – blog posts, newsletters, webinars, infographics, videos, etc. – to attract potential customers.
If you want to get top rankings in Google, you absolutely must be adding new content to your site regularly. But don’t just add content for content’s sake; add useful, high-quality content that actually provides value to your customers and prospects.
This content will help you boost your rankings in two primary ways. First, more content means more keywords, and therefore more opportunities for Google to return your site in the search results. Second, the more content you have, the more links you generally accumulate. Plus, having lots of content is great for getting visitors to stay on your site longer. Win-win!
5. Acquire links to your site.
Links continue to play a critical role in terms of SEO. In fact, according to Moz’s 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors report, inbound links are the single most important element for achieving high rankings.
Some strategies you can use to acquire links to your site include:
- Adding your site to local business directories and review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google My Business.
- Guest posting on popular sites in your niche. Even if you don’t get a followed link in your post or bio, the increased visibility you get makes it worthwhile.
- Creating evergreen content that other bloggers and journalists will want to link to (e.g., How-to posts, tutorials, guides, etc.)
- Looking for broken links on industry sites, and requesting that they replace them with links to your site.
- Getting free PR (and mentions and links) from HARO.
For more link building tips, check out my posts, 7 Killer Link Building Strategies For Small Businesses and 6 Easy Link Building Strategies For Your New Website.
There is no surefire way to get a #1 ranking on Google. However, targeting the right keywords and audience can significantly increase your chances. Follow that up by creating and promoting tons of well-optimized content, and you’re good to go! Those top rankings could happen much sooner than you think.
What advice would you offer to business owners hoping to get top rankings? Share below!
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