At this point, the process behind reaching the first page in Google for a particular keyword is well documented and also fairly well understood. You choose a field-related search term, and utilizing a combination of onsite and offsite optimization techniques, you should see your website rise in Google’s rankings until the first page is eventually reached.
It’s a tried and true process, but it isn’t easy. It also requires patience and realistic expectations. However, if you keep everything white hat and ethical, and you follow the standard guidelines for optimizing a website for search engines, you’re more than likely to reach that first page eventually — but for how long?
Let’s throw out a hypothetical situation. You own a business, and you’re dabbling in SEO for the first time. You’re finally on the first page for “comfortable pants albuqurque” and now you’ve set your sights on new keywords that are related to your product/service/location. You’ve got the process down fairly well and go on to achieve many small victories in SERPs. Months have passed, and you now control a full dominion of keywords relating to pants in Albuquerque. You celebrate and share with friends and colleagues your search engine successes, demonstrating all of your recently attained top 10 rankings.
Go to Google. Okay, now type in pants albuquerque. Look who’s number 1, baby! That’s me!
Going down your keyword list, you eventually reach the bottom and see your old, special friend: “comfortable pants albuquerque.”
Okay, now type in “comfortable pants albuquerque.” All right, scroll down. Scroll down. Wait. Scroll up. Scroll down again. I’m not here. Where’d I go?
It’s like they say in boxing, becoming the champ is one thing, but remaining on top is a whole new challenge. You’d better believe that you’re not the only one targeting your field-related keywords. While there is a slight-to-moderate amount of stability in rankings, particularly for websites that are well-optimized, anything can happen. Keyword rankings that are here today can be gone tomorrow for a variety of reasons. How do you stay on top? What secrets do the top SEOs employ to keep their clients in the top 10? I’m so glad you asked.
1. Relevant Content
It can sometimes be easier and faster to get your website’s most prominent page, the home page, ranking for a particular keyword. However, to secure long-term rankings, it’s probably better to build out a page that is very specifically related to the term you’re targeting. There are a few reasons why. For starters, the more keywords you try to target on a single page, the more you get diminishing returns. There are only so many characters that you can fit into a title tag before Google cuts you off (more about that here).
You’re also going to create some really awkward copy if you’re stuffing it to the gills with a wide variety of keywords (each inserted multiple times to attain an “ideal” keyword density). You’re essentially creating ugly SEO content that no one wants to read. That’s a problem.
Lastly, you probably want to revisit the content every once in a while and update it. Perhaps you have new thoughts or insights to share on the subject. Maybe you just want to look over the implementation of keywords in the page’s copy, h1, images, HTML title and description (all of which are opportunities for keyword optimization). Take care of your copy as you would a Tamagotchi.
2. Worthwhile Content
It’s easy to write generic SEO content. Type up a few paragraphs that hype a product or service, sprinkle some keywords in, and you’re done. However, in the age of semantic search, it’s important to provide authoritative information and data pertaining to your field of expertise. Remember, authority is one of the key factors Google uses to determine rankings, and semantic search is largely about providing relevant answers. It’s not always fun, and it may not be easy, but taking the time to craft insightful, helpful content really does help you secure your position at the top of the rankings in the long run. Every time you set out to create a new page of content, pretend you’re Wikipedia and hold yourself to very high standards. Make sure no one would want to look anywhere else but your website for answers.
So, let’s say you painstakingly pour your heart and expertise into the content on your web pages. While there are no guarantees, it’s more likely that this effort won’t go unnoticed by your visitors. If you’re truly providing something worthwhile on your website, there’s a better chance that your content will get passed around. Having your content linked to and shared organically throughout the web will greatly strengthen and fortify your search engine success. Now, the question is, how do you get visitors to your website in the first place?
3. Promote Your Content and Yourself
If you’ve spent a lot of time on your content, make sure people see it. Share your content through social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Go wild. Get creative and make a companion video on YouTube that links back to your website.
Are you an expert in your field? Do you know what you’re talking about? If so, share your expertise! You can try participating in relevant sub sections on social bookmarking sites like Reddit. Whatever you do, just don’t submit a link to your content and take off without saying another word. People sense laziness and apathy. If you don’t care, neither do they. Someone will be much more likely to oblige you if you take the time to become a valued member of the community, providing advice and insight in addition to sharing your worthwhile content.
Let’s say you’ve gotten pretty good at creating content with substance on your own website, and the response has been pretty good. Reach out to blogs and publications relating to your field and offer yourself as a guest writer (in turn, promoting your own website). Help others out, and the web will take notice. Your efforts will build toward establishing you as an authoritative figure on the web, and authority = first page rankings.
So that seems to be the magic formula: Create worthwhile, substantive content that is specifically tailored around a keyword (or related set of keywords) and share it effectively on the web. Write, promote and help others. That’s what it takes to achieve true longevity in the search engines.
Have a different perspective? Care to share your story? Leave a comment below.