How to Rank First on Google

Nov 2023
How to Rank First on Google

If you came to this blog looking for a trick to rank first on Google, let’s set the record straight—there’s no one-size-fits-all secret. However, what we do offer is a proven methodology grounded in best practices to improve your SEO.

As an SEO Specialist, I have a lot of experience working to move clients up the ranks as part of our SEO services. In this article, I will walk you through the principles and practices I use that you can apply to move up the ranks. 

What does Google Expect from Top Ranking Content?

Google is very clear with what they are looking for in content. Which is that it is helpful and reliable. They care about providing the best user experience for those that use their platform. 

Google’s 10 Things We Know to be True philosophy includes, “Focus on the user and all else will follow” and, “Deliver the most relevant and reliable information available.” This is the standard they hold for themselves and all the content they index. Create the best user-centric content “and all else will follow.”

So step one is to have expertise in subject matter and a clear understanding of the search intent behind your content. 

How Do You Understand the Search Intent?

To satisfy the search intent, you must first understand it. The best and simplest way to start to understand the search intent is simply to search for the keyword or phrase you are targeting and analyze the search engine results page or SERP. 

When Analyzing the SERP Ask Yourself:

  • What type of content is showing up first? Normal results, map listing, featured snippets, pictures, videos, products, etc.
  • What form are the first few pieces of content? Blog post, video, long form, or short form? You will want to model but improve upon the existing content.
    • How are the meta titles and descriptions? Can it be improved upon?
  • Where are the weaknesses in this content that you could improve in your content?
  • What are the “people also ask” results and related searches? Include these in your content. Adding these as subheadings in your post will help increase its comprehensiveness.
  • In the search box, are any of the suggested searches more relevant to your content’s goal? Then you can recreate your content around that title.

Once you have answered these questions, you are in a great place to start creating your valuable content or adding value to existing content. 

The goal should be to not just create content that is of the same quality or slightly better, but for it to be significantly better than anything else out there. As Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz calls it, “10x content” which is “content that is 10 times better than the highest ranking result for a given keyword(s)”

It isn’t a secret what you need to create to rank well. It is right there in the search results. You just need to spend the time understanding the search intent. 

Should You Try to Improve Existing Content?

Are you ranking on the first page but not number one, or maybe you were number one and slipped down? Then that means Google deems your content not as relevant and helpful as the higher-ranking content. 

The biggest mistake you can make with SEO is thinking it is just a “one-and-done” task. The battle to rank first in Google never stops. 

It is always better to spend more time on creating high-quality content or improving your existing content than to pump out a lot of content as fast as you can. 

Can New Pages or Posts Can Help You Improve Rankings?

Dedicated pages or blog posts for a specific keyword are great ways to grow in the rankings. It is common—and best practice—to have your home page or overall service page talk about all of your offerings, but those pages cannot effectively target all those keywords. By having dedicated pages for each keyword you want to target, you can go much deeper into that keyword. When you compare that to one page that has all your offerings, you would be limited to a paragraph or two. Which isn’t enough to showcase your expertise. 

Every time you add a page or blog post to your site, then you are widening the net your website casts out into the billions of people searching the internet. The widening of the net means more organic impressions and traffic to your site. Assuming you did good keyword research before creating your content. 

Additionally, dedicated pages mean you can have dedicated metadata for that page with the keyword in it. This is key because to be effective you can only describe one thing in your meta, and without effective meta, you will have no chance of climbing in the rankings. More on this below.

When Should You Create a Page vs a Blog Post for SEO?

Generally speaking, ask yourself if the keyword’s intent is informational or commercial. If it is informational, then that will usually be best as a blog post. If it is commercial or transactional, having a dedicated page on the site usually is best. 

However, if you go back to what is ranking number 1-5, are those results dedicated pages or blog posts? That answer should also guide this decision. 

How Long Should My Page or Post Be for SEO?

This depends on what you deem needed to satisfy the intent of the keyword. Look at what content is currently ranking in the top few spots. In order to rank, you want your content to be longer and more comprehensive than those pieces. If your content is high-quality longer content, then it generally shows you have more authority on the topic, which helps you rank higher. 

How Can Great Metadata Help You Grow in Rankings?

Meta titles and descriptions are the most important ranking factor to consider, and often they aren’t given the attention they deserve. For those that don’t know metadata, which refers to a meta title and description collectively, is the text search engines display for your piece of content. The blue text is the meta title and the text underneath the title is the meta description.

Example of a Meta title and Description

Now that we know what Metadata is, let’s talk about what it takes to have good meta titles and descriptions. Good metadata should communicate the value and helpfulness of your content or page. Again, the person using the search engine is trying to satisfy an intent, and the goal of our metadata is that it would communicate that your content will serve their intent better than anyone else. Think about it like window shopping. You only go into the stores you think are interesting from the outside. Good meta is that item you put in your store’s window to grab someone’s attention. 

It is important that your meta isn’t over-promising or, in other words, “clickbait.” This might get traction at first, but over time Google will see that people have to return to the search result or “bounce” which is a big indicator of poor content. This will result in a drop in ranking resulting in a drop in traffic as Google sees you aren’t satisfying the intent you promise to. 

So good metadata is meta that accurately describes the content and entices a user to click on that content. Since meta needs to describe your content accurately, you must create high-quality content that can back up good meta. If you have one without the other, your content will flop in search results. 

I often find as we take on new clients that they have good content but either don’t have good metadata or no metadata at all. We then write metadata for that content and see significant gains in traffic. When striving to grow in organic search, you shouldn’t leave any stone unturned to make sure every aspect of the website follows SEO best practices. 

What is the Next Step for Your Business’s SEO?

First, make sure you understand where you currently stand and how you are ranking. If you haven’t set up your Google Search Console account yet, that should be your first step. Once you have that, take time to learn how your content is performing and where there could be improvements. Another great way to know how your site is performing in search is by requesting a free SEO audit from KWSM. You will get a look at how your site is doing in search and what can be done to improve it. Request a free SEO audit here.

Next, take time to better understand your target audience and what they may be searching for on a search engine, and add high-quality content that will satisfy that intent. This takes time to come up with a SEO strategy, which is part of any good digital marketing strategy. You can always try to create a digital marketing strategy on your own, but we suggest you fill out the form below and let the experienced team at KWSM create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that is proven to help your business grow.

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