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How to Rank Your Top Keywords
Whenever we need information, typing a query into search engines like Google is the standard behavior. In the 21st century, there is not only a vast amount of data accessible online via the internet, but most people carry devices that are capable of scanning the internet at any time. Whether it’s searching for a nice restaurant in an unfamiliar area or looking for an instructional video on how to fix a plumbing problem, “Googling it” is now the first instinct for many of us.
When people start typing to solve a problem or answer a question they have, the responses that come up on the Google Search Engine Results Page—or SERP—are going to have a direct relation to the words they used. So, what must you do to ensure when people start using those words, that your content comes up high and visible on the list?
That’s where keywords come in. Google and its algorithms have ways to rank pages for relevance according to the compatibility of a web page’s keywords and the terms used by the searcher. Let’s see how you can optimize your content in a way that Google’s algorithms notice and rank you so others will take note too.
The State of the Keywords
Figuring out how to rank your top keywords means that you need to do two things first. You need to look at what your topic is and see who are currently the top rankers in that topic. The top 10 results are usually sufficient for this task.
The second thing you need to do is determine just how stable—or not—those rankings are. You can discover a lot about your area of interest if the top 10 rankings remain stable, or if there is a lot of fluctuation, with past leaders dropping out or changing position, or new names coming into the top positions. Historical analysis can be very important in this regard and helpful in finding patterns, as well to see why ranking signals are awarded for rising stars, or why old standbys are now losing relevance. All of this is essential research before turning your eye to your own keywords. Once you have this data, and an understanding of what’s happening, you’re ready to begin.
You need to look at all the keyword configurations that people may use for your topic. For example, if your topic is about search engine optimization (SEO) in New York City, then you’ll likely have a list that reads like this:
- SEO New York
- New York SEO company
- SEO company New York
- New York SEO
- New York SEO expert
- SEO NYC
- SEO company NYC
- SEO company Brooklyn
It’s important to compile the most commonly used words and the most likely configurations and variations of those words. You need to also think about some of the possible associations that may be tied to those words, such as more specific keywords, like Brooklyn in the above.
Look at the Competition
Now you need to start seriously looking at your competition and getting a better understanding of how they achieved their success. Is there a financial investment? Some people pay per click in an effort to get ahead. Are the top ranked pages also reinforcing their content with a lot of useful links? That might be why people are going there most often, for comprehensive help. What does your competition’s backlink structure look like? Backlinking is a notable way to raise your rank, but Google can tell if people are using them and finding them valuable.
Understand the Rank Brain Algorithm
Of course, Google doesn’t give away the secrets in plain sight, but rankings, promotions, and demotions on the SERP are all guided by carefully tailored algorithms or “rules.” These algorithms determine how the SERP makes its decisions about what to rank highly or not. Part of this process is facilitated by machine learning, where a rank brain algorithm actually watches what searchers do, notes how they respond to the results and pages they click on, and eventually learns through the behavior.
For example, in the beginning, people who typed “Apple” into the Google SERP may have originally gotten many entries on the fruit and not the technology company. However, thanks to the rank brain algorithm, the SERP software noted that most people would keep navigating until they arrived at Apple, the technology company, and thus the algorithms eventually “learned” to anticipate this intent, as it was the most common one. So, they offered Apple pages higher in the SERP. You need to try to achieve the same effect with your keywords.
Algorithms base a lot of decisions on the depth of content. In other words, if you’re providing good, detailed, useful information that is truly helping people, which is assessed through the positive response of spending an extended amount of time consuming your content, then you will be noticed. Make sure to use your target keywords throughout your content, maybe tailoring them even more to each page, but always prioritize the quality and don’t overload your writing with key phrases.
You should also create other, related content that can increase your keyword use naturally. If you can include video, for example, or podcasts, make sure to build in associated links, pages, and the same keywords to reinforce your ranking. This repeating association with different, detailed content can also help with the upcoming voice search engine optimization as more people conduct verbal queries.
Interlink & Authority
Always remember to include additional, relevant links to strengthen the usefulness of your content. If you can interlink related content within your website, this extends the depth of your existing content. Furthermore, it helps to keep people on your site longer because any of their related queries are being answered with your wealth of resources.
However, this does not mean you shouldn’t have links to other websites beyond your own. On the contrary, if you can also provide, secure, trusted, authoritative links related to your topic, this increases your credibility. In return, you are also more likely to be linked to as well, reinforcing the likelihood that your keyword rank will go up.
Ranking well on SERPs is about using keywords wisely. First, you must see what your initial keywords are doing for other businesses. Pivot until you find room for yourself to rise through the ranks and tailor the words to your company and even your region for more specificity. Then you can start developing or optimizing your content with your handful of strategic terms. Providing useful content that you update often will help you become the most relevant digital resource for your clients.