12 Ways to Get Your Website on the First Page of Google (With Examples & Templates)

Most people rely on Google.

How many times have you heard someone say: “Just Google it.”

People make more than 3.5 billion searches every day on Google!

But even more interesting is that 75% of them don’t scroll past the first page of search results:

Graph showing number of people who don't scroll past the first page of Google

In short: people want answers fast!

You may have heard the classic quote from Brian Clark at Copyblogger when he said:

“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of the Google search results.”

It’s funny, but true. You need to rank on the first page of Google to stand a chance of reaching most readers.

But, the challenges don’t stop once you hit the first page. Google’s front page is becoming much more complex (and competitive) with the evolution of new SERP features such as featured snippets, knowledge panels, local map packs and carousels.

Once your website gets on the front page you then have to contend with:

1. PPC (Adwords at the top and bottom of the page)

AdWords examples at the top of the SERP

2. Local Maps

Example of local map results


3. Featured Snippets

Featured snippet example

4. Related Questions

Related questions example


5. Shopping (Paid Promotions)

Google Shopping ads example

You can see the proportion of each major SERP feature in the MozCast Feature Graph:

Moz SERP feature graph

Even though it’s getting harder to rank on the first page of Google, it doesn’t mean you should give up. It’s just a case of analyzing the SERPs and selecting the strategy that gives you the best shot at success.

(Spoiler: your website is not always the best option)

Truth is: you can’t always rank on page one with your own web properties. But this shouldn’t stop your business from getting front page visibility for your most important keywords.

And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this post – how to tailor your SEO strategy to rank on page one, with or without using your own website.

But before we jump into the tactics for getting your site on the first page of Google, it’s important to understand what signals have the biggest impact on rankings …

Disclaimer: This article does contain affiliate links. If you purchase a tool through one of my links I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.


First Page Google Ranking Signals

Back in 1998, when Google was just a glint in Larry Page’s eye, search engines weren’t “a thing” yet.

It was only when he and Sergey Brin came up with an ingenious way of ranking results based on the number of links they received, that modern search was born:

Old Google SERP

Twenty years later, search has changed.

Today, Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm to determine which content gets on the first page of Google.

Let’s take a look at the top ranking signals:

  1. Links
  2. Content
  3. RankBrain

Links

Links are still the most important ranking factor. Backlinko research found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor:

Graph showing relationship between backlinks and first page rankings

And another study of 1 billion pages by Ahrefs found that the more backlinks a page has, the more keywords it ranks for:

Ahrefs graph showing relationship between the number of backlinks and keyword rankings
Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: It’s also worth noting that a site’s overall domain authority also correlates to higher Google rankings.

Content

Google prefers to rank content that covers a topic in-depth and on-point; i.e. you need to publish relevant and comprehensive content on topics related to your business.

Backlinko and MarketMuse discovered that “comprehensive content significantly outperformed shallow content”:

Graph showing relationship of content topic authority to rankings

Further research and analysis from Neil Patel and Market Muse into how Google’s Hummingbird works found that top-ranked content is in-depth, comprehensive, and authoritative.

RankBrain

RankBrain is part of Google’s search algorithm. It covers many things, but the overarching idea is that it wants to serve searchers the best quality content for their query.

The same Backlinko study found that “longer content ranked significantly better than short content”:

Graph showing relationship between word count and rankings

It stands to reason that longer content covers a topic more thoroughly than shorter content.

And by ranking long content higher, Google provides the best answer to searchers.

Long-form content generally:

  • Gets more social shares.
  • Gets more backlinks.
  • Boosts the topical relevance of a page.

But it’s not just content length that matters. There could be hundreds of 2000-word articles on the same topic.

You also need to create 10X content so that your page stands out from the crowd. How? By ensuring your content is:

  • Presented in a user-friendly manner via the user interface, layout, fonts, and images.
  • Different in scope and detail from similar content.
  • A combination of high-quality, trustworthy, useful, engaging, and remarkable.

It’s these guiding principles that have led to some industry experts voicing how SEO is quickly turning into UXO (User Experience Optimization).

i.e. content length and design alone are no longer enough. Google is watching how people interact with your content and using those signals – bounce rate, time on page, scroll depth – to determine how well your content satisfies search intent.

RankBrain is self-learning and can make tweaks to the algorithm in real-time based on user engagement within and outside the SERPs. This simple diagram captures the basic concept:

RankBrain signals
Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: Check how Google defines “high-quality content” in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

There are hundreds of additional ranking factors such as:

  • Site speed – data from Alexa shows pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites.
  • Security – Google confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal.
  • URL length – Shorter URLs tend to rank higher than longer ones.
  • Images – Content with at least one image ranks higher.

Due to the complexity of the algorithm and level of SERP competition, it’s important to remember that it takes time to rank on the first page of Google, even if you’re producing the best possible content.

Ahrefs tracked the ranking performance of pages in their first year, and found that only 5.7% made it onto Page 1 for at least one keyword:

Graph showing ranking performance of pages within one year of first being seen

But don’t despair!

Here are 12 actionable data-driven strategies you can use to get your business or clients on the first page of Google…faster.


12 Ways to Get Your Website on the First Page of Google (in Any Industry)

Now you understand what signals drive rankings, it’s time to dive into the tactics.

Some tactics require a little more time and patience to execute.

Let’s start with a strategy you can use to get your website on the front page of Google in 24 hours.

#1: Start with Your Existing Keyword Opportunities

Video: I walk you through the free Google Sheets template that will automate most of the existing keyword research process. A huge time saver!

If you only do keyword research to create new content, this tactic is going to turn your world on its head.

I’ve used this tactic for my own blog on countless occasions:

Traffic increase after getting a post on the first page of Google

Increasing traffic by as much as 402% month over month:

Graph showing organic traffic increase

The blog post above went from position #8 to #2 overnight, which is why the traffic shot up like a rocket!

This tactic allows you to take existing content that may not be living up to its full potential and optimizing it in such a way that it generates near-immediate traffic gains.

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Use SEMrush to identify content that is ranking on page 2 of the SERPS – the “low-hanging fruit”.
  2. Optimize your content to RAMP up traffic.

Here’s the process:

Step 1 – Identify low-hanging fruit

In SEMrush:

  1. Enter your domain URL – e.g. “beardbrand.com”.
  2. Select “Organic Research” from the sidebar menu.
  3. Click on the “Positions” tab:
Organic Positions report in SEMrush

The results show all your top-ranking keywords:

Top ranking keywords in SEMrush

But you’re only interested in the “low-hanging fruit”, so you need to set a “Custom range”
(6 – 20) in the “Positions” filter:

Filtering keywords by ranking position

Now your results look this – e.g. 6.8K keywords instead of 47K:

See what this looks like for your website:

But you can take this one step further and find specific types of keywords.

For instance, you can use URL subfolders like “/collections” or “/product” to return all the commercial intent product-related terms for an ecommerce site. On the other hand, using a URL subfolder like “/blog” would return all the informational or investigational (affiliate) keyword ideas.

Here’s how it works.

Beardbrand houses all their products under the “/collections” subfolder. For example, you’ll find their Beard Wash Softeners here:

Using subfolder URLs to find keywords with different search intent

In SEMrush, add an advanced filter:

  • Include > URL > Containing > “/collections”:
URL filters in SEMrush

Now the results show only the commercial intent product-related keywords in positions #6-20:

Low hanging fruit commercial intent keyword opportunities

Likewise, you could change the filter to show only informational keywords found in the Beardbrand blog.

In SEMrush, change the advanced filter:

  • Include > URL > Containing > “/blogs”:
Informational intent URL filter

Now the results show only the informational intent keywords in positions #6-20:

Low hanging fruit keywords with informational intent

By entering these parameters, you’re investing time on those keywords that are most valuable to your business.

Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: You can also set the search volume threshold to something that makes sense for your industry; e.g. you may need to set it lower to find opportunities in a really niche industry.

So far, you’ve found keywords with relevant search volume, strong existing rankings, and manageable competition.

Next, you need to prioritize which pages to optimize first.

I prefer to start with the “money” keywords at the bottom of the funnel, and work my way back up to the informational keywords:

Search Intent funnel

Export the results as a “.CSV” file, then copy/paste the data into the sheet labeled “1. SEMRush Export” in the Google Sheet below.

In the DONE tab, you should now see something like this:

Quick Wins keyword template

The rows with the most GREEN in them signify the MOST ATTRACTIVE opportunities.

For example, the queries “free link building tools” and “best keyword tracker” shows an attractive search volume, manageable competition and mid-funnel intent, plus it’s already ranking on the first page of Google.

On the other hand, the query “link building tips” has strong competition, top-funnel intent and is languishing at the bottom of page two.

As a result, I’d prioritize the first couple queries for relaunch because they appear to be quick-wins from both a traffic and monetization (affiliate) standpoint.

Step 2 – Optimize your content:

Here is a quick overview of how I would optimize these posts to move up the rankings:

  • Update existing expert contributions
  • Add 10-15 new contributors
  • Update the scoreboards and republish
  • Re-promote on social media and mention all contributors
  • Run outreach to contributors and secure 5-10 backlinks
  • Add internal links from 3-5 topically relevant posts with high URL ratings

For a more in-depth overview of the relaunch process, check out this guide.

Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn the exact keyword research and relaunch processes I use to consistently scale organic traffic for personal and client websites, check out my premium training, The SEO Playbook.

Keyword Research Playbook gif

Screenshots of the Aggregate and Keyword Mapping tabs in The SEO Playbook

Top


#2: Find (and Eliminate) Keyword Cannibalization

Video: I’ll walk you through the free Google Sheets template that will automatically find potential keyword cannibalization issues on your website. 

Keyword Cannibalization occurs when two or more pages on your website are competing for the same keyword.

Keyword cannibalization

(Source)

At first, you might think it makes sense to have more than one page ranking for the same keyword.

But it’s not.

For starters, Google doesn’t know which of the pages to rank highest. And in some cases, it decides to ignore both pages.

And second, backlinks and shares get split between the pages, which leads to less authority for each page. (And that’s bad, because we’ve seen, pages with higher authority tend to rank better.)

In short: when your website is competing with itself, you’re significantly diluting your chances of ranking at all!

So how do you find and eliminate keyword cannibalization?

  1. Use SEMrush to see which keywords your website is ranking for.
  2. Check for keyword duplication (i.e. multiple pages ranking for the same keyword).
  3. Resolve the issue by either merging the two (or more) resources or deleting one of them. (Note: only do this if there are ZERO links/traffic/conversions or the page serves a different purpose such as a support resource)

Here’s how to do it:

In SEMrush:

  1. Enter your domain URL – e.g. “robbierichards.com”.
  2. Select “Organic Research” from the sidebar menu.
  3. Click on the “Positions” tab:

The results show every keyword and their ranking position:

Organic Positions report for the blog

Export this entire report to a “.CSV” file:

Exporting keywords from SEMrush

Next, copy/paste all the exported data into the sheet named “1. SEMRush Export” in the Google Sheet below.

It should look something like this:

Then navigate to the “DONE” tab, and it will show you all the keyword cannibalization issues on your website:

Keyword cannibalization results

Now, based on the results, you have a couple of options:

(a) If the two pages competing for the same keyword are very similar, and both offer unique value, consider merging them into one canonical resource.

Note: Ensure you add a 301 redirect from the unused page to the new canonical resource, especially if it has backlinks.

(b) Otherwise, if the competing page offers nothing of unique value, then you can delete it.

Top


#3: Steal Position Zero with Featured Snippets

Ranking on the first page of Google is a great achievement!

But it’s only the start… 

What you really want is the top spot. Or to be more precise, you want to claim #Position 0 with a Featured Snippet.

Ahrefs found that the URL in Position #0 steals 8.6% of clicks from Position #1 when the SERPs have a Featured Snippet:

Ahrefs study showing average CTR for featured snippets

Here’s how to find your competitors’ Featured Snippets, and then optimize your content to steal Position #0 from them.

In SEMrush:

  1. Enter a competitor domain in Organic Research – e.g. “healthline.com.”
  2. Select the “Positions” tab.
  3. Use the “Advanced filters” to find “Featured snippet” opportunities:
Finding featured snippet opportunities in SEMrush

Now you have a list of all your competitor’s featured snippet content, plus the keywords to target.

Editor’s Note:

You might already be ranking on Page 1 for your chosen keyword, but don’t yet have the Featured Snippet.

Here’s a quick way to find those existing opportunities in Ahrefs:

  1. Enter your domain in Site Explorer – e.g. “thewirecutter.com”.
  2. Click on “Organic keywords”.
  3. Open the “SERP features” filter and select “Featured snippet”:
Finding existing featured snippet opportunities in Ahrefs

Now you have a list of all the keywords your site ranks for on Page 1 that contain a featured snippet. These are your “quick-win” snippet opportunities.

For example, the keyword “best wireless earbuds” is in position #7, but Tom’s Guide (from position #4 in the SERP) has the featured snippet:

I used these tactics to get more featured snippets for my own content.

For example, here’s a paragraph snippet:

Featured snippet example

And here’s a list snippet:

List snippet example

For more information on the different types of featured snippets, plus how to optimize your content to land more of them and increase your organic traffic, check out this in-depth guide.

Top


#4: Target Low Competition/ High Volume Long Tail Keywords

If you want to get on the first page of Google, then you need to start targeting long tail keywords.

Why?

Because long tail keywords typically have a lower monthly search volume, but a higher probability of conversion.

They get their name from the “long tail” of the search demand graph:

Search demand graph from SEMrush

For example, the keyword “tomato plant” has a high search volume with a low conversion rate. While the long tail keyword “why are my tomato plants turning yellow” has low search volume but a higher chance of conversion.

What you’ll also find with long tail keywords is that they have more intent – i.e. people are searching for something specific.

In the example above, users want to know why their tomato plants are turning yellow. Not green or red.

Another example might be from a user wanting to buy a specific TV make and model, so their search becomes “Sony 50 inch 4K TV under $1000″ vs “Sony TV”. The intent is typically higher with long tail keywords.

Here’s a couple of ways to find long tail keywords.

Tactic 1

In SEMrush:

Enter a seed term into the Keyword Magic Tool – e.g. “tomato plant”.

Use the advanced filter “Words count” to include keywords with 3 or more words:

Using the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Now you have a list of additional long tail keyword opportunities related to “tomato plant” like “yellow leaves on tomato plants” and “tomato companion plants”:

Long tail keyword ideas in SEMrush

You can also toggle a switch to get a list of long tail question keywords:

Long tail question based keywords ideas

Now from the seed term “tomato plant” you get questions like “when to plant tomatoes”“how to plant tomatoes”, “how to prune tomatoes”, etc:

Question-based keywords are popular because people want answers to specific questions.

Here’s another example of long tail question keywords for the seed term “divorce attorney”:

Long tail keywords example

Tactic 2

There’s another tactic you can use in SEMrush to find the long tail keywords your competitors use and rank for.

Here’s what to do:

In SEMrush:

  1. Navigate to the SEO Toolkit and enter a competitor’s domain – e.g. “healthline.com”
  2. Select “Organic Research”.
  3. Click the “Positions tab”.
  4. Filter by Top 20 positions for the high-ranking terms.
  5. Filter for 2+ keywords to show long tail terms with 3 or more words:
Extracting long tail keyword ideas from competitors inside SEMrush

Now from your list of results, you can see the top-ranking long tail keywords of your competition:

Top ranking long tail keywords in SEMrush
Robbie headshot

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn the exact keyword research processes I use to scale organic traffic for my clients, check out my premium training course, The SEO Playbook.

You’ll learn how to find, qualify, prioritize and map keyword data for sites of any size:

Keyword Research Playbook gif

Screenshots of the Aggregate and Keyword Mapping tabs in The SEO Playbook

Top


#5: Use Barnacle SEO to “Attach” Your Website to Pages Already Ranking High in the SERPs

Some big brands dominate the SERPs, even for long tail keywords, which makes it hard for small businesses to rank on the first page of Google.

For instance, big brands such as TripAdvisor, Avvo, and Trulia dominate the holiday, law, and real estate niches.

Here are some examples.

Hotels: TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Timeout.com, etc:

Barnacle SEO example in the Hotels niche

Real Estate: Zillow, Rent.com, Trulia, Zoopla (UK), Rightmove (UK), etc:

Barnacle SEO example in the real estate niche

Legal: Avvo.com, Superlawyers.com, Justia.com, etc:

Barnacle SEO example in the legal niche

There’s no way you’re going to outrank them – at least not to start!

So rather than competing with the BIG sites that dominate your niche, you can attach your own brand to them.

That way, you can effectively piggyback on their success!

It’s a tactic called “Barnacle SEO” – a term coined by Will Scott of Search Influence.

In short: It means you attach your site to the BIG websites to get traction.

For example:

  • If you run a hotel in London, then encourage your guests to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, so you get featured on that site for a specific city/town.
  • If you run a law firm, optimize your profiles to rank highly in relevant categories on sites like Avvo. Or, pay for a featured listing (more on that later).
  • If you run any type of local business, optimize your profile and generate loads of quality reviews to rank highly in relevant Yelp categories.
  • If you provide holiday accommodation, you can list it on Airbnb.

You can also look for keywords in your niche where forums like Quora dominate the SERPs.

For example, if you were a lawyer, you could search for forum threads about attorneys.

In SEMrush:

  1. Enter “quora.com” in Organic Research.
  2. Select the “Positions” tab.
  3. Filter by the Top 5 positions for the high-ranking terms.
  4. Use the “Advanced filters” to find threads containing the word “attorney”:

This will result in a TON of threads that rank well for attorney-related terms:

Top ranking attorney keywords in Quora

Select the ones most related to your business from the list, sign into Quora, answer the questions and link back to a “value-add” resource.

It doesn’t always make sense to wait to rank your own website on the first page of Google. Sometimes the best strategy is to attach your site to those already ranking.

Note: For more information on how to use Barnacle SEO to get your website onto the first page of Google, check out this in-depth guide.

Top


#6: Use Parasite SEO to Rank for Ultra Competitive Keywords

As we saw with Barnacle SEO, it’s tough to rank for some keywords.

That’s because the BIG “money” keywords are often super-competitive and ONLY high authority sites stand a chance at ranking for them.

For instance, the search term “SEO tips” has a keyword difficulty rating of 62 and is dominated in the SERPs by big brands with high domain authority:

Example of a competitive SERP

So, what’s the solution?

Parasite (or Tenant) SEO.

In short, Parasite SEO is where you piggyback on the authority of other websites to rank for super-competitive, “money” terms.

You do this by publishing new content on high ranking sites and publications. (Unlike Barnacle SEO where you get listed in relevant directories and forums).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify high authority websites in your niche that accept guest posts.
  2. Pitch them topics with the competitive keywords you want to rank for.

Editor’s Note:

Obviously, you’ll need a list of competitive keywords you want to rank for to do this. If you don’t have those already, check out my post listing a TON of ways to find keywords with SEMrush, and grab a free trial here.

Here’s a couple of examples of Parasite SEO in action:

Example 1:

Matt Barby used Parasite SEO to rank his client for the keyphrase “app makers” (22,000 monthly searches).

The Business News Daily article generated 74,783 referral visits and almost 4,300 user registrations:

Parasite SEO results

Example 2:

Another way to leverage other sites is to piggyback on existing list posts.

I wanted to get some quick exposure for my SEO training course. So instead of publishing a new list post on my site where I’d have to link to competitors, I contacted another site that was already ranking for loads of terms such as “SEO certifications”:

Ranking with parasite SEO

The article also ranked for hundreds of other targeted keywords such as “SEO classes”, “SEO training”, and “best SEO classes”:

Parasite SEO keyword rankings

I gave the author a free license to review my course, and now I’m listed number 5 in their SEO training courses post and get hundreds of targeted referral visits each month:

Organic traffic from parasite SEO

Top


#7: Match Your Content Type to the SERPs

A common mistake I see many clients make is to target keywords with the wrong content type.

For instance, should you publish:

  • Blog posts?
  • Videos?
  • Category pages?
  • Product pages?
  • Government resource pages?

If you choose the wrong content type, you’re rank potential is dead in the water before you even start.

Case Study:

I had one client who tried to rank for the keyword “interactive infographic” using an in-depth product page.

It was a great page with a high URL rating (authority) and a good number of quality backlinks.

But it didn’t rank.

When we checked the SERPs, we found out why:

Targeting keywords with the right content types

The top ranking content was all long-form list-type blog posts.

So, we published a massive list post of our own and it now ranks #1 for the target search term, and drives a lot of organic traffic to the site each month:

Google Analytics screenshot after targeting keyword with correct content type

Over 12-months, the original product page brought in 366 organic visits compared to the list post with 9,565 organic visits.

You can check which is the right type of content for your keywords by simply reviewing the SERPs.

For example: 

The top results for the search term “quadcopter controls” are all “How to” style blog posts:

But the top results for the search term “thrive leads add fields” are videos:

Example of video content types ranking in the SERPs

And for a broad query such as “beard oil”, product category pages tend to rank on page one:

Assessing content types in the SERPs

ALWAYS check the preferred types of content for your keywords before investing resources into content creation.

Top


#8: (Accurately) Qualify with Page-Level Link Signals

The Barnacle SEO and Parasite SEO tactics showed that it’s not always possible to rank on the first page of Google for your target keywords.

The terms you can target will depend mainly on your domain rating, plus the competing DR and UR of sites that are already ranking.

A study by Ahrefs shows page-level backlink metrics have the strongest correlation with page one rankings:

Ahrefs study showing relationship between page-level authority and rankings

Note: In general, it’s better to get one link from 10 different websites than 10 links from a single website.

For example, look at the Ahrefs SERP overview report for the search term “SEO tips”. The DR (Domain rating), UR (URL rating), and Domains (number of unique Referring Domains to the page) figures are all high:

Example of difficult SERP

Unless your site has similar figures, it would be unrealistic to consider ranking for that keyword.

However, sometimes it’s possible to identify gaps in the top 10 positions that you could target, especially if your content is of higher quality and better satisfies the search intent.

For example, Wikipedia – with its high DR, UR, and number of referring domains – usually gets the top spot for informational search queries.

But take a look at the SERP overview for the search term “chocolate labrador”:

Notice a couple of sites with considerably less referring domains rank higher than Wikipedia.

Why? Because their content is specific to chocolate labradors whereas the Wikipedia content covers all breeds of a labrador.

Here’s another example for the search term “sales techniques” that shows sites with a high DR (like HubSpot and Salesforce) can be beaten:

ALWAYS check the URL Rating, Domain Rating, and number of Referring Domains for the sites currently populating the SERPs for your target keywords.

If they’re significantly higher, don’t waste a ton of time going after them, unless you spot a big gap in topical relevance and/or content quality.

Top


#9: Build Page-Level Authority to Outrank Big Brands

Once you understand the link profiles of the competing assets, you can start to build enough page-level authority to compete aggressively.

Remember: Page authority is driven mostly by the number of links from referring domains.

Here are 3 quick ways to land quality links to valuable content and help get it onto the first page.

(1) Replicate your competitors best backlinks

Most sites have hundreds or even thousands of backlinks. Unfortunately, some can be low-quality and spammy!

So here’s a way to find your competitor’s best backlinks.

In Ahrefs:

  1. Enter a competitor’s URL into Site Explorer – e.g. “backlinko.com/seo-tools”.
  2. Navigate to Backlink profile > Backlinks.
  3. Add the following filters:
    a. “One link per domain”
    b. Link type > “Dofollow”
    c. Platforms > “Blogs”
    d. Languages > “English”
Finding competitor backlinks in Ahrefs

Applying these filters removes all the junk, leaving the high-quality backlinks:

Applying link filters in Ahrefs

Now you’re left with prospects that are:

a) English-speaking sites (or your preferred audience language).
b) Using blogs – most likely WordPress so they can add a link quickly.
c) Likely to link with Dofollow links – and pass link equity.

Check out the Quick Wins Playbook in my SEO training course for more information on this strategy, or check out this in-depth competitor backlink analysis guide.

(2) Find recurring backlink sources for your competitors

If you discover that a competitor is getting links from the same source over and over again, then take note, because:

A. They’re likely to be interested in the content on your website (as they’re linking out to similar content already).
B. They’re likely to be receptive to your link requests (as they have a track record).

Which means you have a great link prospect.

Here’s how to find these recurring backlink sources.

In Ahrefs:

  1. Enter a competitor’s domain into Site Explorer – e.g. “matthewwoodward.co.uk” (use the root domain here).
  2. Navigate to Pages > Best by links
  3. Add a filter for HTTP code > “200 ok”:
Looking for recurring backlink sources in Ahrefs

From the results, copy/paste the first 10 pages (minus the homepage) into the Link intersect tool:

Ahrefs Link Intersect tool

Next:

  • Select “URL” under each of the dropdowns.
  • Leave the “But doesn’t link to” section blank.
  • Click “Show link opportunities”:

Now you’ll see a list of domains that link to your chosen competitor’s website at least once, ordered by the number of link intersects.

Go through the results and make a note of the best sites to contact.

Then repeat the process for your other competitors.

(3) Boost new pages by linking to them from existing high-authority pages

When you publish new content on your site, one of the best ways to give it a quick boost is to add internal links from existing high-authority pages.

But don’t link for the sake of it. Make sure the content is related.

Here’s how to find high-authority pages.

In Ahrefs:

  1. Enter your domain in Site Explorer – e.g. “beardbrand.com”.
  2. Navigate to Pages > Best by links:
Ahrefs Best By Links report

The results show you the best pages on your website ordered by UR (the URL rating based on the number of incoming links).

Scan down the list to find a suitable post from which to add your link.

For example, if Beardbrand published a new post called “How to apply beard oil” they might want to link internally to it from these related posts on beard growth/maintenance:

Internal link opportunities

Remember: only add links from sources that are relevant to your new content.

Top


#10: Expand Your Organic Footprint and Land Hundreds of First Page Rankings (with a Single Asset)

It’s possible to get a single article ranking for dozens, hundreds or even thousands of different keywords relative to the niche and type of content.

For example:

Healthline’s top-ranking informational page on how to lose weight includes 11.7K keywords:

Post ranking for 11,700 keywords in SEMrush

But in contrast, in the traffic safety niche, the traffic cones product page on the Traffic Safety Store has 766 keywords:

What’s interesting to note is that the primary keyword – traffic cone – brings in 5,687 visitors – that’s 14.32% of the page’s overall monthly organic traffic. The remaining 85.68% comes from the other 765 semantic and long tail secondary keywords:

SEMrush data showing primary keyword driving a small percentage of traffic

Here’s how to expand the organic keyword footprint on your pages by finding and adding related keywords to the primary topic.

In SEMrush:

Enter your primary keyword – e.g. traffic cone – into the Keyword Magic Tool:

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

From the results list, you can find thousands of related long tail keywords:

On the left-hand side are groups of keywords. For example, you could click on “orange” to show all the keywords related to orange traffic cones:

Keyword groups in SEMrush

Check the results to see what new keywords you want to add to your content.

Note: these secondary keyword ideas can also be used to build new posts or pages.

For example: Traffic Safety Store would likely not target “organic traffic cones” with the same top-level traffic cones category page. It would instead create a sub-category page for each different traffic cone color.

When you’re looking specifically for secondary keywords to boost topical relevance, look at semantics.

For example: “best wifi router” is semantically related to “best wireless router” and could definitely be targeted with the same review post:

Secondary keyword ideas in SEMrush

Editor’s Note:

Check out this in-depth guide, or watch the video below, to learn more about how to increase your organic footprint.

Top


#11: Embrace a Mobile-First Mindset

If you want to rank on the first page of Google then you have to embrace a mobile-first mindset.

At the end of 2018, 57% of organic searches in the US came from mobile devices:

Graph showing growth in mobile traffic

Based on the increasing trend, it’s no surprise that Google switched to a mobile-first index.

You may have seen this notification in Search Console informing users of the changes:

Mobile-first indexing announcement

Previously Google indexed the desktop version, but now index and rank the mobile version of a website first..

(Source)

A “mobile-unfriendly” website can now negatively impact your rankings on both mobile and desktop devices.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check if individual pages are optimized:

Google's mobile-friendly testing tool

And then check the results:

You can also check your site-wide mobile usability report in Google Search Console:

Mobile usability report in Search Console

Google has been using site speed as a ranking factor since 2010. So it’s also important you have a responsive, fast-loading site.

Enter your page URL into either of these free tools to measure the loading time of individual pages:

Google Pagespeed Insights:

Google Pagespeed Insights

GTMetrix Performance Report

GTMetrix report

Ouch!

Editor’s Note:

Using a combination of WP RocketWP Smush and my WPX Cloud hosting CDN, I’ve been to cut my site load speed in half:

Load speed in GTMetrix

Check out the best WordPress SEO plugins for reducing load speed.

Top


#12: Pay to Play

If you have the budget, paid ads are a great way to get immediate SERP visibility for your most important search terms while waiting for your organic SEO efforts to kick in.

Here are a few options.

Google Ads

Text Ads
You can pay to display brief text adverts to promote your service or product. Ads appear at the top or bottom of the SERPs:

Example of a Google text ad

Local Map Pack Ads
For local businesses, you might want to pay to advertise your service in Google Maps (app and desktop). An ad label gets the top spot above the organic results:

Local Maps ad example

With Google Local Ads, you pay for results when people click your ad to visit your website, call your business or get directions.

Review sites

Depending on your niche, there might be established review sites and directories to target.

For example:

G2 Crowd – for software apps and services:

G2 Crowd

This gets millions of visits every month from people looking for independent reviews of SaaS products across hundreds of different categories. Business can pay to get featured listings in their specific category:

G2 crowd category

Avvo – for legal services.

Again – this is another example of a directory site that ranks for millions of local service-based keywords:

Phoenix car accident lawyer rankings

Rather than waiting months or even years (depending on the market) to get on the first page, an attorney could buy a featured listing and get their practice viewed by hundreds of new visitors every month:

Remember: These sites are already ranking, but you can ensure top placements for your services by paying for listings.

This way, anyone who clicks on the number #1 directory result for your local service keyword will land on the location page in the directory and see your practice first.

Deciding on your target keywords

There are a couple of ways to choose what keywords to use in your paid ads. You can check:

A. What your competitors are using and what’s been successful for them.
B. What the estimated Volume and CPC would be in Google for your product or service.

Here’s how to find what keywords are successful for your competitors in the SEMrush Advertising Toolkit:

  1. Enter the competitor domain – e.g. “gruber-law.com”.
  2. Select Advertising Research from the side menu.
  3. Click the Positions tab:
SEMrush Advertising Toolkit

From the results, you can see the keywords they are bidding on – e.g. “car accident lawyer milwaukee”, “personal injury lawyer milwaukee” – and what positions they’ve ranked for:

In this example, you can see Gruber Law has been successful with their paid ad rankings.

Editor’s Note:

Use the SEMrush Ads History report to find all the keywords that are converting well for competitors. This will save you a ton of time (and budget) testing different keywords and match types.

Here’s how to do it in SEMrush:

Go to the Advertising Toolkit >> Advertising Research >> Ad History report:

SEMrush Ad History report

You’ll see a list of all the keywords that have been targeted with ads in the last 12 months. If you see keywords that were being targeted and then all of a sudden stopped without being restarted, this could be due to poor quality lead generation.

Conversely, if you see a competitor bidding on the same keyword for 12 straight months, you could infer that the keyword is converting well, or at least generates quality leads.

For a more in-depth overview of how to reverse engineer competitor PPC campaigns, check out the video below:

Not using SEMrush?

Here’s how to check the estimated volume and CPC from Google Ads for your target product or service directly in the SERPs:

  1. Install and enable the Keywords Everywhere chrome extension.
  2. Enter your target term in Google – e.g. “arizona injury lawyer”.
  3. Check the results – e.g. Volume=210/mo, CPC=$53.78
Using Keywords Everywhere

And also check the “Related Keywords” for alternative terms to bid on:

You won’t have the ad intelligence that SEMrush provides, but you’ll at least have an idea of the cost and level or competition for the keywords you are interested in targeting.


Index Your Content Immediately

Whenever you publish a new page, you want to get it indexed by Google ASAP.

If it ain’t indexed, it won’t rank, and nobody will find it!

Google will eventually trawl your site and detect the new page and index it. But you can request the URL to be indexed immediately via Search Console.

Head to the URL Inspection Tool and enter the new page URL. Google checks whether it’s been indexed:

URL Inspection Tool

If it hasn’t (or you want to force Google to crawl it again after some changes) click on “Request Indexing”:

Google adds the page to a priority crawl queue so it gets indexed quicker. Assuming there are no issues, the new page gets indexed within a few hours.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: