How to Rank #1 in Google [New Step-by-Step Case Study]

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Today you're going to learn EXACTLY how to rank in Google (step-by-step).

In fact, in this video I'm going to show you the exact process that I used to rank #1 for "list building".

With that, here's a quick overview of what's in the video:

You already know that "great content" is a big part of ranking in Google. But what does "great content" mean exactly? Well, as it turns out, there's a certain TYPE of content that performs best for SEO.

Next, I show you some of my favorite on-page SEO strategies. And no, I'm not talking about old school stuff like "keyword stuffing". Instead, you're going to see how to improve your Google rankings with modern-day SEO strategies (like internal linking).

Then, you'll learn about one of the biggest changes in the world of search engine optimization over the last few years (and how to optimize for it).

Finally, you'll learn how to promote your content so that you get more social shares and backlinks to your content. I'll also show you real-life examples of how I use these SEO tips on my site.

And before I end the video, I reveal a bonus SEO tip that I've been using a lot lately. This single tip has helped improve my Google rankings for some very competitive keywords.

How to rank in Google for competitive keywords?
- In this video, I'm gonna show you how to rank number one in Google step by step. In fact, you'll see the exact process that I used to rank in the top three for the keyword list building. I'm Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, and today, I'm gonna show you how to use strategies like the content roadshow and the OBP formula to get higher rankings in Google. Stay tuned. (soft electronic music) We've got a lot to cover in today's video, so let's get started. I recently published a post to my blog called 17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies, and my target keyword for that page was list building. Now, the keyword list building is insanely competitive. Think about it, every email marketing company in the world wants to rank for this keyword, and I'm a one-man show going head-to-head against giant companies like MailChimp, AWeber, and Infusionsoft. Bring it on, bring it on. At first, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to outrank these big brands for such a competitive keyword, but thanks to the process I'm about to share with you, by post quickly hit Google's first page for my target keyword. Today, I rank in the top three for list building. My post also ranks number one in Google for dozens of related keywords like list building tips, list building strategies, and more. Thanks to all these first-page rankings, that single piece of content has brought in 79,807 visits since I first published it. Okay, enough bragging. It's time for me to show you how I did it. Specifically, I'm gonna show you how to rank in Google for competitive keywords. Without further ado, let's kick things off with step number one, make your content insanely actionable. Google recently rolled out a major update to their algorithm called RankBrain. RankBrain measures how Google searchers interact with your site in the search results. If people like your result, Google gives you a rankings boost. If not, they'll drop your rankings like a stone.
What does Google want?
From my own SEO experiments, I found that all Google searchers want the same thing, actionable content. Think about it. When someone searches for something in Google, they don't want to read some random person's opinion. Instead, they want tactics that they can use to solve their problem right away. If you can give that to them, Google will notice and bump you up a few spots. For example, when you search for the keyword list building, you don't want to hear why building your email list is important. You don't want my take on the future of list building. You want simple strategies that you can use right away. That's why my post has zero fluff and zero filler. It's literally a short intro and 17 bite-sized tips that you can implement within a few minutes. Because Google searchers love my result, I rank above sites like HubSpot and Forbes even though they have way more backlinks than I do. Next up, it's time for step number two, use the OBP formula. I recently conducted the biggest search engine ranking factor study ever, and one of our most interesting findings was that sites with a low bounce rate tend to rank above sites with a high bounce rate. As you might already know, a bounce is when someone visits your site, and then quickly jumps back to the search results. Obviously, if lots of people bounce from your site, it sends a strong message to Google that people don't like your content. Like I just mentioned, if people aren't liking your content, Google will notice, and drop your rankings. Fortunately, there's a simple way to improve your bounce rate, the OBP formula. It's a content introduction formula specifically designed to reduce your bounce rate. Here's how it works. First, you have the outcome. Start your intro off with the outcome that your reader wants. For example, what does someone searching for list building want? More email subscribers, so I start my intro off with that outcome front and center. Okay, so now that you've hooked them
with the outcome, it's time for the benefit. Here's where you outline the benefit that someone will get from reading your content. For example, my intro says that you'll get access to 17 techniques that'll help you get more leads. Finally, it's time for the preview. This is simply where you preview what your content has in store for them. For example, my preview gives people a sneak peak into my post, which makes them want to keep reading. Now it's time for our third step, use external links. Last year, an SEO agency in the UK ran an experiment to see if linking to other websites helped improve Google rankings. They found that pages that used external links consistently outranked pages that didn't link out. That's why I always generously link out to other authority sites in my content. For example, in my post, I use 16 external links, including links to authority sites like the Journey of Commercial Research. Now, to be clear, I don't think that external links are super important, but every little bit helps, especially when you're going after competitive keywords. Now that you've added external links, it's time to use internal links. Next, it's time to create internal links that point to the page that you want to rank. In other words, add links from other pages on your site to your new post. Those internal links will send link authority to your post, which can help your Google rankings. For example, you can see that I link from these two pages on my site to my list building post, which funnels juice to the post that I want to rank. Not only that, but the pages I'm linking from are topically related to my list building post, so this tells Google, hey, these closely-related pages are all linking to the same post. That post must be important, so you should rank it higher. Okay, so now that your links are good to go, let's move on to the fifth step, add images, visuals, and other multimedia. Imagine that you had two pieces of content.
Keep in mind Google pays very close attention to how people interact with your site.
Let's call them Blog Post A and Blog Post B. Let's say that both pieces of content were exactly the same with one major difference. Content A looked ugly, and Content B used lots of nice images. Which post will do better? According to lots of industry research, Content B. In fact, a study conducted by Sheffield University in the UK found that people judge content based on design first. Then, they size up the actual written content. If your content is a giant, ugly wall of text, Google users are gonna instantly bounce, but if your content uses lots of images, charts, visualizations, infographics, videos, and quizzes, they're gonna stick around and read your stuff, which can help your ranking in Google. For example, my post is packed with screenshots, visuals, and other multimedia that help make my content look nice. Now, I should point something out. You don't need to go crazy and use a million images in every post. Our search engine ranking factor study found that content with one image outranked pages that didn't use a single image. Using one image is way better than not using any at all. With that, it's time for step number six, CTR-optimize your title. Like I mentioned earlier, Google pays very close attention to how people interact with your site, and they want to see that people click on your site in the search results. If an above average amount of people click on your site, it tells Google people really want to see this content, and we need to push it to the top of the page. This is known as organic click-through rate, which is an SEO ranking factor that's becoming more and more important every day. If you're not optimizing your site for CTR, you're missing out on a lot of organic traffic. With that, here's exactly what I did to optimize my title for click-through rate. First, I emphasize that people could
Make it easy for Google searchers to find the answer on their question.
use my content right away. Like I mentioned before, Google searchers are impatient. They want an answer to their question or help with their problem now, so it's important to emphasize that your advice works quickly. That's why I included the phrase, "That work fast," in my title. Next, I made sure to use a number in my title. Several industry studies show that titles that contain a number get clicked on more than titles without a number, and a recent study by Polar found that odd numbers perform slightly better than even numbers, so I made sure to include the odd number 17 in my title tag. The combination of emphasizing quick results and using an odd number helped increase my organic CTR, which pushed my site over my competitors on Google's first page. Moving right along to step number seven, which is to optimize your content for semantic SEO. You already know that you should mention your target keyword a few times in your content. For example, you can see that I mention my keyword a handful of times throughout my post. Now, I'm not keyword-stuffing here. That doesn't work anymore. I'm just using my target keyword a few times to let Google know that my content is about that keyword, and to help them understand my content even better, I optimize it for semantic SEO. This isn't nearly as complicated as it sounds. Semantic SEO simply means that Google now tries to understand the topic of your page, not just individual keywords. To take advantage of semantic SEO, all you need to do is sprinkle related words and phrases into your content. These related words and phrases help Google understand your content's topic. For example, let's say that you just wrote a post about being more productive, and your main keyword for that post is productivity tips. You just search for that keyword and related keywords in Google. Then check out the searches related to terms at the bottom of the first page. Finally, add those terms to your content.
Use Google Suggest.
You can also use Google Suggest. Enter your keyword into Google, and see what Google suggests to you. Again, add a handful of these to your article, and you'll help Google better understand what your content is all about. In my case, I found semantically-related terms like list building strategies and how to build an email list, so I added those terms to my content where it made sense. Simple. Let's keep it moving with step number eight, generate lots of comments on your blog posts. Can comments really help your content rank better in Google? Definitely. In fat, a Google employee recently said that comments can help a lot with rankings. If you go to my blog, you'll notice that I tend to get lots of comments on every post. These comments are one of the main reasons that I'm able to rank for so many competitive keywords. The question is, how do you actually get people to comment on your content? Here are two tips that work great. First, reply to every single content. I'm shocked at how many people complain that no one comments on their stuff, and then completely ignore the few comments that they do get. To show people that I respect their take, I reply to almost every comment that comes in. For example, you can see that I took the time to reply to everyone that left a comment on my list building post. This shows anyone that reads my post that I read and reply to comments, which makes them more likely to leave a comment too. Over time, Google sees that my content isn't just a page of text, but an active community, so they rank it higher. That said, the hardest part is usually getting the ball rolling with the first few comments, which leads us to our second tip, make a conclusion or call to action to comment. Let's face it, most people's conclusions are boring summaries of their post. They say things like, "There you have it, "six ways to blah, blah, blah." Needless to say, a conclusion like that isn't gonna light a fire under anyone's butt to actually write a comment.
Why interacting with people boost your website ranking?
Instead, I recommend making your entire conclusion a call to action that encourages people to comment. For example, today, my post conclusion asks people to subscribe to my newsletter, but in the early days of the post where I tend to get 75% of my comments, my conclusion looked something like this. With that, it's time for our ninth strategy, use click-to-Tweet buttons. This is one of my favorite ways to get more social shares and traffic. I'll explain how click-to-Tweet buttons work in detail in a minute, but the basic gist is that you add a bunch of buttons to your content that people can use to Tweet individual strategies from your post. In fact, my list building post includes 17 click-to-Tweet buttons. Now, I should point something out. Google probably doesn't use social shares like Tweets, Facebook likes, or Pinterest pins as a direct ranking signal. In other words, people sharing your stuff on social media won't help with SEO directly. That said, social shares can bring your content more traffic, and the more traffic you get, the better your chances that some of these visitors will link to your site. Those links will directly improve your rankings. With that, here's how to create click-to-Tweet buttons step by step. First, find a tip, strategy, or quote in your content that's worth sharing. For example, because my content was a list post, I decided that every technique on my list would make for a great Tweet. Next, use to make a click-to-Tweet button. Simply write the Tweet you want, and it'll create a link that you can use. Finally, add those links to your content. You can use buttons like I used here, or you can just make the links plain text like this. Either way works. When someone clicks on one of your click-to-Tweet buttons, they'll get a pre-made Tweet that they can use to share that specific strategy with their followers. Let me tell you, these work great. In fact, most of the Tweets that I got on my post
Use share buttons.
are from people that shared using my click-to-Tweet buttons. With that, it's time for strategy number 10, promote your content with the content roadshow. Here's the deal, if you want to rank in Google today, you need to strategically promote every piece of content that you publish. In fact, this is a mistake I made when I was first starting out. When I launched my first website a few years ago, I would just publish a bunch of content and hope for the best. I call this the publish-and-pray approach. Please rank in Google, please rank in Google, please rank in Google. Back then, I underestimated how hard it can be to actually get people to see the content that you publish, so I just published and prayed. One day, I read that WordPress-powered sites alone put out two million blog posts every single day. That's when I realized that the chances of my content standing out without any promotion was like winning the lottery, so I decided to promote everything that I published. Over the years, I developed a handful of content promotion strategies that work great. One of my favorites is called the content roadshow. Thanks to the content roadshow, I was able to get my post in front of influential bloggers, bloggers that shared my post with their audience. With that, here's the step-by-step process. First, find people that are legitimately interested in your post's topic. For example, for my content, I found people that wrote about building an email list, or people that had shared content on that topic. You can find these people by searching in Google, or using a tool like BuzzSumo. Next, you want to email these people to see if they're interested in reading your content. This is key. You see, when most people promote their content, they're way too pushy. In fact, I get emails like this all the time, emails that ask or beg me to share their stuff, and I instantly delete them. Delete, delete, delete. Instead, I recommend a two-step approach. First, send the blogger this email that gauges their interest in your content. That way, you're not shoving a link in somebody's face. Here's a real life example. When someone gets back to you saying that they'd like to check out your content, then send them a link. Also, note that I don't ask for a share here. Again, the point of the content roadshow isn't to be a pushy jerkface. I mean, nobody likes a pushy jerkface. Instead, the goal is to get your content in front of people that have the power to share it, and these people aren't dumb. If they like your content, they'll share it. There's no need to even ask. In fact, you can see that many of the people that I reached out to happily shared my content with their followers, which led to hundreds of visitors that would've never seen my content otherwise. Now, before we close out this video, let me show you a cool little bonus tip, which is to regularly update your content. Back in the day, I'd publish a post, promote it, and never look at it again. I realized that, over time, a lot of the content on my blog was out of date. For example, for my list building post, I had old screenshots, outdated numbers, and tools that didn't even exist anymore. Not only did this outdated content hurt my readers, but it was bad for SEO too. Whenever someone came to my site from Google and saw that my stuff was outdated, they'd bounce back to the search results to find something that was up to date. That's why I set aside about one day per quarter to review my content and update it. Sometimes, my content just needs a new paint job, so I'll replace broken links, add new screenshots, and rewrite certain sections to make them more current. I've done this a few times over the past year or so, and I've noticed that these small tweaks and upgrades help improve my content's long-term rankings. Sometimes, a new paint job won't cut it. My content needs a complete overhaul. For example, this post on my blog was pretty out of date. It was also lacking a lot of detail compared to the other content that was ranking for my target keyword, white hat SEO,
How to improve page content on a real example.
so I went in and completely overhauled and upgraded my post. For example, I improved my page's readability and structure so that Google searchers could find what they needed even faster. I also added a new case study to make the steps easier to understand and implement. Finally, I answered questions that people asked me in blog comments and on Twitter. For example, lots of people asked me if the ROI of creating awesome content is really worth it, so I added some data to show that, at least in this example, publishing world-class content is well worth it. Those improvements helped increase that page's organic traffic by over 250%. Okay, so I hope today's video helped show you how to rank in Google, and if you learned something new from this video, make sure to subscribe to the Backlinko YouTube channel right now. Just click on the subscribe button below this video. Also, if you want exclusive SEO strategies that I only share with subscribers, head over to and sign up for the newsletter. It's free. Now, I want to turn it over to you. Which strategy from today's video are you gonna try first? Are you gonna start using external links, or update your older content? Let me know by leaving a comment below right now. Am I good, lined up? Okay. That's a lovel-- (mumbles) Is that how you make it rain? I don't know, it's like (moans) You were doing, like, a three-finger. So I added those terms to my co-- Sorry. I needed to be ready. Bring it on, bring it on.

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