Get Higher Ranks for a Keyword in 10 Steps

Would you have your eyes on a keyword? Do you want to see the website for a certain search term on Google's enigmatic first page? Prepare for yourself: it's not going to be easy unless you are Wikipedia or The New York Times. But neither is it unlikely. Really – we're always doing it! The classification of an organic search keyword is a repeatable operation. You will not get the results you want 100 per cent of the time, particularly if you're a new website that wants to rank among a common keyword, but you can start to make it happen if you take content marketing and SEO seriously. Items like traffic and profits, oh my! Oh my! Here are the ten steps to get higher rank for a keyword in Google.

Stage 1: Lay the Foundations

This is more of a preliminary step than a first step. You will need some basics before you can hope to rank for any random keyword. These specifications include:
  • A good website – the more authority and connexions you have on your website, the better. It is also essential that you follow SEO best practises on your entire site – start with Google's Webmaster Guidelines when you do not know what that means.
  • A network to build up – it's very beneficial to have an established network to share new content with – an audience on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, a blog following and e-mail contacts that may be reached for some support with the connexion. If you don't know what that means, it's time to begin thinking about linking building as building relationships.

Step 2: Do your initial keyword research

You may think you know what keyword you want, but check your instincts in detail. Use various keyword tools to get a sense of the keyword search volume and of the contest before you finish your keyword selection. Your main issues are:
  • Choosing a keyword with good volume, but not too much volume – you usually don't want to concentrate on a keyword which has low relative search volume when there's a much more common equivalent term. Of example, there are usually more than twice more searches of "blah blah works" than for "blah blah jobs." But do not always go to the keyword with the highest volume or complexity immediately. You won't be labelled "airline" unless you're really an airline.
  • Choosing a keyword which is applicable to your business model — if the phrase is important to your platform and market, you will more likely be able to choose a keyword. You're more likely to get a real return on your ranking – notice that rankings are not particularly valuable in themselves unless it's worthwhile to drive and lead. For example, a party planning company might emphasise "how to cook for a party" – but "how to cook rice" won't really matter to the party or its target audience.
You should also draw up a list of similar variations on your main keyword at this stage of the process. These will be helpful to write and later refine your content.

Step 3: Test out the contest

Once you have chosen a keyword, check Google and a variety of other search engines to find out what the contest is already doing. Please pay attention to:
  • The domains and URLs – How many match domains are exact? Does the keyword include each URL in the top 10?
  • Titles – How do the title tags incorporate the keyword?
  • The type of content – product pages? Blog posts? posts? Videos? Videos?
  • The kinds of companies that rank – are they big brands? Small companies? Sites of news?
  • What are these pages authoritative? You can use a plugin to test the age of the sites at the top ten, the size of their connexion profiles, etc.
You are looking for ways to differentiate yourself. At least as much you have to do as your rivals do to defeat them. You will probably do more and do better.

Phase 4: Take Goal

The more precise the keyword (think long-distance keywords), the easier it is to calculate the searcher's purpose and the easier it is to satisfy what those searchers are likely to want. Through search marketing, "purpose" is our best idea about what the user wants. Consider the following keywords and note how much simpler it is, just as you go down the list, to formulate the intent from the words: glasses, eyeglasses, discount, eyeglasses, discount frames, eyeglasses frames for children Tell yourself what type of content the keyword fits best? In this case, of course, a variety of children's eye glasses would be appropriate. You can't even tell from the first word if the person is looking for eye glasses or glasses. And even for the second, the individual may only search for photographs of eyeglasses; there is no clear intention of buying. An e-commerce business should primarily seek to identify itself with commercial keywords. Google's founders said only one result would be the perfect search engine. You want to be one result that meets the search engine's needs so that they do not bounce back to the search results and look for a better answer.

Step 5: Content Conception

First, make a plan for your current content, which I hope will rank for your chosen keyword. There are many ways to define a keyword, not limited to:
  • An article
  • A blog post
  • A product page
  • An index or directory of links (to other pages on your site or around the web)
  • An authoritative guide
  • An infographic
  • A video
How long is the update going to take? Who should build it? Who should create it? Will you do all in-house or outsourcing? Have you got all the services and budget you need? Don't be defeated: regardless of your size or budget you can create a blog post. Further resources are required on content such as infographics and videos. Sometimes a search question is best answered with some kind of tool, such as a mortgage calculator. If this is the case, engineering resources are needed.

Step 6: Run

Here's where the rubber is on the lane. Run on your plan. Run on your plan. Again, it is important not to rush any of these measures, but particularly not to rush them. Such search engines are increasingly looking for high quality content to benefit the search engine, not spam built into keywords or ad pages that only benefit you. If you want to purchase traffic rather than try to gain "free" organic search traffic, check PPC. "SEO isn't easy," your mantra ought to be.

Step 7: Your keyword optimization

The reality is that steps 6 and 7 should be linked together. Optimize the content when designing it instead of optimising it after the fact. Here is the set of keywords that you developed in step 2. Make the most of those keywords in your content, but not sound like a crazy robot. Remember there are many "invisible" keyword spots and I am not talking about using white text on a white background or anything else that goes against Google guidelines. I mean things like image file names—users won't see them if they don't seek them, but they can increase their keyword rankings. See the SEOmoz's guide to the "perfect" page for a complete list of on-page optimization factors. Another good tip is to copy Wikipedia, the pages of which tend to be stellarly optimized. It's a good idea to quickly double-check your keyword research before you hit "publish." During the development and creation phases, your content can have evolved and you must ensure there is still alignment between the keyword and the content.

Step 8: Publish

It's time to (finally) bring your content into the world. Depending on the type of content it is, you may need to prepare this step carefully. This is usually not considered for evergreen content, but for content that has something to do with the news, event or trend. You may also need to coordinate with PR or other stakeholders in your company, for instance when launching new product/service content.

Step 9: Promote

This step is important and should come after publication – actually it's great if you can raise the media before the play goes live for large pieces of content. Before you can even get a keyword position, ensure that you do what you can to get your content before as many eyeballs as possible. Share your content on your business' social accounts – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn et al. If you can, please also use your personal accounts. Use social buttons or widgets on your site to promote independent communication – make keeping the chain going easy for readers and viewers. If you simply click a button, you are more likely to tweet or share your article. Build links to your content – No matter what the future of PageRank, building links is still a large part of SEO (even though it's the worst part). See our blog archive on the issue if you are interested in learning about building links. Cruising pages and social shares will help you to build links to earn that ranking.

Phase 10: Analyze

You haven't done that yet! The web is a live medium and you can never optimise the content too late. Check your ranking of your keywords manually (sure that you are signed up and that you are not overly personalized) or using a rank control tool. Use your analytics to see what the keywords for your content are – perhaps not the exact ones you targeted initially. If you're not ranking for the right keywords after a few weeks or so, you have more work to do. Make sure your content is truly optimised and is really high quality. The keyword you have chosen can also be too competitive to scale up your ambition. Try to target less competitive keywords until more authority has been created. That's it!