How to Rank Higher in Google – Getting to #1
I’ve been writing for an affiliate marketing company in the online gaming niche for a few years.
I learnt how to write content as I went along, starting off freelance before asking them to put me on a small fixed salary, enough to fund my degenerate lifestyle in Asia.
I’m not an industry expert in how to get website traffic or anything – for that I like to read sites like SmartPassiveIncome or NicheHacks, funnily enough that guy also lives in Asia – but can share a few tips.
‘Content is King’ as they say so it helps to write about your passions. A recent article I put a lot of effort into – as it was something I was passionate about – got to the top spot in Google.
This post will be a mini case study of that, for beginners. Here’s a link to the article in question. My buddy is #2 there.
How to Rank Higher in Google – Bro Tips
This list of 200 Google ranking factors from Backlinko is way better but here goes.
1 – Get a keyword research tool
Nowadays people don’t stress out quite as much on hitting a 3.71% keyword density or whatever, instead they recommend writing for people, not search engines. Avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ i.e. using a keyword a million times trying to outsmart Google.
That said keywords are still important, and I put the main five word phrase I was targeting in the title, slug (/last-part-of-the-url/), meta-title (the catchier title that appears on Google in the image above), and a few times in the page text when it came up naturally.
Then I used a $100 keyword tool I bought called MicroNicheFinder. They don’t sell it anymore but Long Tail Pro does the same thing.
It listed the semantic (related) keywords above, which I tried to incorporate into the article, and showed me I had around 10,000 Google pages to beat for my main keyword.
If you’re on a budget are plenty of free tools like Keywordrevealer.com or you can use Google Adwords, which all these tools use, they just speed things up. Another simplistic thing to do – although still essential – is just to type in Google and see what it suggests before you hit enter.
I found a couple keyword phrases here that didn’t come up in my tool, and answered those questions in the article.
My answers to those questions are quite opposed to other pages on the internet, which can help an article to go ‘viral’ by pissing people off.
You can also use UberSuggest which spits out all the Google Suggest keywords faster.
2- Make your content a resource people are happy to share
So by adding in sections to cover all the semantic keywords people were searching, my page ended up becoming a 7,000 word mega guide to the topic, something people will bookmark and come back to.
There’s a bit of a debate on short articles vs long and which rank better. I just happen to like long articles, and they do work. Have at least 500 words.
I reached out to a blogger who you’ll find on the first page of Google too, with the same article topic. He agreed his followers would also benefit from my article and shared it, also letting me spam a link in the comment section of his.
— Nathan Williams (@BlackRainPoker) March 22, 2015
Other common sense parts of making your content sharable are using succinct 2-3 sentence paragraphs, subheaders, bullet points, bold text, and images to break up the text. Since it was a long page I made a navigation menu with anchor links to jump to different sections.
3 – Link out to other bloggers and authority sites
I first linked to the above bloggers in my post, not only in the hope they’d reciprocate but because it’s a Google ranking signal to link out to authority sites – in this case pages high on Google for my keyword.
I linked to at least a dozen online gaming blogs and forums that readers would be interested in. People will notice, e.g. in their Google Analytics, and appreciate it. It’s also actionable content for readers – make your content solve a problem your audience has. They were looking for info on how to move abroad, and I was linking them to the best resources.
I also wrote a guest post linking back to my article on a travel blog in the same demographic – young males – interested in Thailand and working online. It got some good comments.
4 – Get the word out there
You aren’t finished after you hit publish and post to your personal Facebook, G+ and Twitter. I used to stop there too, hating the content marketing aspect – it felt spammy to promote my own work.
Then I listened to a SmartPassiveIncome podcast saying ‘it isn’t spam if your content is great‘. Now I get motivation from making my Google analytics sessions graph look like a shark fin. I got over 1,000 visitors from a related subreddit, feeling guilty at first for linking my own work but then getting great feedback like ‘This is the best summary I’ve seen‘.
I also linked it in the main gaming and online business forum TwoPlusTwo, one of the largest messageboards on the internet.
I also write for some sites about Forex so I went back to an old article about how Forex trading is like poker and tacked a slightly tenuous link onto the end of that.
Then we interviewed a company that does expat relocation services for online gamers and hyperlinked the article behind ‘Thailand’ whenever that came up.
That way when we promote the interview, we were promoting the linked page at the same time. Internal links on your own site in future content are obviously another way to keep the traffic flowing in.
I typed ‘site:rakeback.com Thailand‘ into Google to find every instance of that word on the site I could hyperlink from. In exchange for the interview that company gave us a front page link in the ‘as seen on’ section next to the ESPN, NYTimes etc. logos. You never know what other sites will do for you. I also put up Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines articles and interlinked them all.
5 – It takes time
It took a few weeks to rise to the top of Google, I’m kind of OCD so I was compulsively checking the position by typing in the keyword, Google even banned my IP from doing so unless I typed in a Captcha.
I had to use free rank checker tools like SEOCentro – although they sometime glitch and stop working, they do help speed up the process of finding other blogs to comment on.
I also kept pinging my article to get it indexed by Google again every time I made a change. I should have relaxed as by that time other sites had picked up on the article and were sharing it themselves without me having to ask.
6 – Use WordPress
My company is in the process of switching over to WordPress, it’s so much easier to use and ranks higher than other sites. My article was made in Django CMS which kind of sucks. The entire comments section has recently broken, that’s why there isn’t one.
Also even though the domain is a decade old, it took an in-depth article and a lot of link building to outrank Harvie’s WordPress blog which is only a couple years old.
His article will probably go back to the #1 spot. Even though it’s a quarter of the length, and took maybe 10 mins to type up.
When first trying to make my own site I tried ‘website builders’ like Jimdo, Weebly, Wix… ended up giving up every time. They’re supposed to be more user-friendly but I found them frustrating. Wordpress may have a steeper learning curve initially with all the plugins but once you’re over that it’s very intuitive.
There are many other ways to get traffic and rank higher in Google, but those are the steps I took for this particular article. Check out articles on NicheHacks for hundreds of other methods.