SEO Tutorial: 10 Detailed Steps to Rank #1 in Google

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Why you need a strategic process to be ranked #1 in Google.
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You read a blog post on a new SEO strategy. You have this "ah-ha" moment. You’re super pumped so you stay up all night executing. And the result? Nothing. So are these techniques, tactics, and case studies all lies? Probably not. But there isn’t a single silver bullet for higher Google rankings. You need a process - a strategic one, consisting of multiple tactics and techniques that build on to each other. Because without a process it can be the difference between a number one ranking and a page nothing ranking. So in this SEO tutorial, I’m going to walk you through 10 detailed steps that will help you get more #1 Google rankings. Stay tuned. [Intro music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. And the first thing I need to tell you is that this video is not going to be full of a bunch of random tips. I have a lot of very detailed steps for you, so let’s get started by drawing out a scenario for this SEO tutorial: Let’s say that I have an online store that sells pet food and accessories. A good number of people know about my store, but it’s because I post on Reddit under my fake account and then upvote my own answer with 247 other accounts. Yup...Not cool. But people who have purchased from my store are always repeat customers. Now, the problem is that none of my customers are coming from organic search. For this scenario, my main goal is to rank my product and category pages higher. And the main way I’m going to achieve this is by using a blog to fuel my rankings and revenue. With that in mind, let’s jump into our 10 point SEO checklist. Step one is to do topic research & a quick competitor analysis An easy way to find topics is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. I’ll type in a general keyword related to my niche, so that might be “pet” and then I’ll run the search. Next, I’ll click over to the “phrase match report.” And you can see that there are about 1.7 million keyword ideas, which is way too many to manually
Find the right keywords.
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filter through. Since we’ll be creating helpful content for our blog, we want to find keywords that either have informational intent, like “how to,” search queries and other keywords that will likely show content based results in Google’s SERPs. So I’ll click on the ‘include’ box and type in ‘how to’, ‘tutorial’, ‘best’, and ‘ideas’ separated by commas. Then I’ll click here and select 'any' from the dropdown menu to show the keywords that contain any of these keywords. And right away, you can see topic ideas that might be suitable for our blog. Before we further narrow the results set down, you need to answer 3 questions: The first question is: does the topic have business value; meaning will people who are looking for information on this topic be interested in purchasing my products or services? Looking at the keyword results, “best vacuum for pet hair” might be a good one since we sell cleaning supplies and vacuums. Right below, you’ll see “best pet insurance,” which seems tempting with 14,000 monthly searches, but we don’t sell insurance and there really isn’t a way to make this work for our business, so I’ll pass on the topic. You could scan through this entire list and probably find thousands of topic ideas, but 85,000 results is still way too much to manually go through. A simple way to narrow down this list is to use the keyword difficulty filter here. The keyword difficulty metric estimates how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 of Google’s search results. In general, the lower the score, the easier it will be to rank. So I’ll set the KD to something like 20, bringing our list down to around 3,800 results. And you could probably extract at least a hundred relevant topic ideas from this list alone. On to our next question: what are my chances of ranking for this keyword? Since I want to write about the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair, I’ll click through to this keyword, which will give us deeper insights on the keyword at hand. After it loads, I’ll do a one second check and look at the clicks data compared to the search volume. The clicks data reflects the total number of clicks that happen on the search results when people search for this keyword. Now, if the number is abnormally lower than the search volume, then it might be a good indication not to target the keyword since people aren’t really clicking through to pages from the search results. But this particular phrase has a lot more clicks than searches each month, which means that ranking somewhere in the top 10 can still produce some nice traffic for us. Next, I’ll scroll down to see the top 10 search results. What you want to do here is look at the number of referring domains to get an understanding of how many backlinks you’ll need from different websites to compete against the top ranking results. And it doesn’t appear to be too intimidating since a lot of the pages don’t have many or any backlinks. This brings us to our final question: How does Google view the search intent for this topic and can we serve their users? Just by looking at the titles of the top 10 ranking pages, you can tell that they’re all blog posts, most of which are list posts. And since Google is ranking all of these list posts, then it would probably be a good idea to stick with the format so we can be sure to serve the searcher’s intent. Here another example of completely different type of search results. If we look at the top 10 rankings for this keyword phrase, you’ll see that the top ranking pages are dominated by eCommerce product pages from sites like Amazon, PetCo, Walmart, and more. Search intent should be at the forefront of your topic and keyword choices. So don’t try to squeeze in keywords where they don’t belong. Now, if we were to create a page around this keyword, it would be best to create it as a product page. Alright, onto step 2: we’re going to do some deeper keyword research on this topic and turn that into a solid outline for our post. So we have our main topic or primary keyword phrase, which is “best vacuum for pet hair.” And as you can see, the monthly search volume for the keyword phrase is 16,000 searches. But take a look at the traffic and the keywords column in the SERP overview table. For these two pages, they all rank for thousands of keywords and get a ton of search traffic. So from here, I’ll click on the number in the organic keywords column to see all of the keywords that this page ranks for. Next, I’ll use the positions filter to only show keywords that rank in the top 8 or so results. And the reason why I’m doing this is because it’ll weed out a lot of irrelevant keywords
Create a content that’s better than your comptitors have.
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that we won’t want to target. And you can see that we’re down to around 600 keywords now. Now with this list, I can manually filter through them and look for valuable subtopics within here. So you can see that we could also mention something about cat hair, or dog hair, or upright vacuums, and more. Another cool thing you can do is click on the content gap link in the left sidebar. And with this tool, we’re going to find all of the keywords that a few of the top ranking pages rank for, which will give us a nice list of very relevant keywords. So I’ll go back to the top 10 Google SERPs and copy and paste a couple of the URLs here that rank for a good number of keywords and also get decent traffic. And I’ll cut this bottom part and paste it right here. Finally, I’ll change this option to show keywords that all of these pages rank for and I’ll run the search. And if you scroll down, you can see that there are almost 500 keywords where all of these pages rank and at least one of the sites ranks in the top 10, which tells us that they're highly relevant to our topic. So I might talk about canister vacuums as one section and bagless vacuums in another. Alright! Keyword research is in the books! It’s time to move onto step 3, which is to create content that’s better than your competition. But first, what makes good content? #1. It must serve the searcher’s intent. Just ask yourself, why is someone searching for this term in Google and what do I need to do to solve that problem? So you need to get into that mentality to be the absolute best helper that you can be. Now, when it comes to creating content, personally, I like to work backwards. So, since our goal is to solve problems and serve the searcher’s intent, I start with the conclusion. So, for your conclusion, just keep it short and make sure that you’re delivering on your result. Now that we know what we have to deliver, I’ll move up to the body and ask myself, "how do I get someone to that conclusion?" Now, I’m not going to write out the entire piece on this, but I want to share a few SEO copywriting tips that should will help keep your readers engaged. So first, you need to create content that is scannable. The way that you and I read blog posts and even social media posts is by scanning. We literally scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, and if something catches your attention, then what do you do? You scroll back up. You can make your content more scannable by adding headings, sub headings, breaks within the text like using block quotes, custom boxes, images, graphs, and videos. Next, write in short sentences and short paragraphs. And this also adds to making your content scannable. On top of that, it keeps readers engaged and constantly moving and processing. So there's some kind of progress that's being made and progress is good. On the Ahrefs blog, most of our paragraphs are between 1-3 lines long with an 18 point font. 3. Write in fifth-grader-like language. Language that’s easier to understand will keep your visitors around longer. Think about it: If this SEO tutorial was chalk full of technical marketing jargon or advanced SEO techniques like link sculpting, canonical issues, or doorway pages then, you would have probably jumped out that doorway and onto another page. There’s a free tool calling Hemingway Editor that helps improve readability and it also gives you a readability grade. Now, depending on who your audience is, I would aim for a 5th - 9th grader level. The last part of your content is to create an introduction. And your introduction is a super important part to your content. It needs to reel people in and hook them hard. In general, you want to connect with the reader fast and let them know that you understand where they are. So, give them a preview of what you’re about to show them and then get them amped up and wanting more. Here’s a great example from Joshua Hardwick who wrote about linkable assets on the Ahrefs blog. Are you struggling to get links? Then you probably don’t have anything on your website particularly deserving of links. The truth is: there are certain 'types' of content that earn links much more easily than others. These are known as 'linkable assets.' Here’s what the backlink profile of a very successful linkable asset looks like: Pretty impressive, right? But “linkable assets” are not created solely to attract links. There are a ton of other benefits such as social shares, brand awareness, monetization, etc. In this article, we’ll be looking at what types of content work well as 'linkable assets,' how you can create such content yourself, and how you can earn links with them. So, try to keep your introductions short, on point, and always use words like you and I to help build that conversation with your readers. Alright, on to step #4: and that’s to optimize the content you just wrote or on-page SEO. By now, you should have a pretty good piece of content to work with. The first thing you can do is add internal and external links in your post. And internal links will be ones that go from this page to another page on your domain. They help share the link equity among pages within your own website. So there are 3 types of internal links that we should discuss. The first would be to add internal links from the page that you’re working on right now. And this is simple. As you’re editing and refining your post, link out to other relevant articles on your own website. The second is to add internal links to your new post from your existing pages. And you can find relevant pages by doing a google search for: site:yourdomain.com and then put in a query that represents your post. Since I don’t actually have a website about pets, let’s say that I own the website Groom and Style, which is one of the top ranking pages for our target keyword. And you can see that there are close to 300 results where the keywords pet and vacuum both appear on the page. So I’ll click on this one and since the main topic seems to be on robot vacuums, I’ll do a find for the word “pet hair vacuum” to locate a good part for the internal link. And it looks like I could add an internal link from this post and anchor it here on “best pet hair vacuums.” The last internal linking strategy is to add links to your products and services pages. And if you remember, our goal is to rank our product and category pages. The thing with product, category and services pages is that no one wants to link to them. But they do want to link to helpful content like the blog post that you just created. Here’s an example for the highly competitive term, “supplements.” If you look at the the search results, you’ll see a mix on types of pages.
How to power your revenue?
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Some are content based and others are eCommerce category based. And if you look at the number of referring domains for these pages, you can see that content based pages have significantly more backlinks than the eCommerce pages. To top it off, the backlink profiles of eCommerce category pages here with a lot of referring domains are mostly irrelevant spam links like this one that were built on over 21,000 random subdomains. By using internal links from your blog, you can slowly, but surely power your revenue generating pages by leaking link equity over to them. So for our example, we could add links to our product pages on the different brand and model names as anchors. Next, add external links if you haven’t already. We studied 2 million random search queries and found that pages linking to pages on DR70+ sites generally rank higher. Now, I wouldn’t force external links, but don’t be afraid to link out to other websites where the content on that page can help out your readers. Finally, look at Google’s auto suggest keywords and see if there’s anything that you missed. Just go to Google and type in your keyword and you’ll see some suggestions below. And we can see keywords like “hardwood,” “on carpet,” and “in car” which would make great additions to our post. Next, I’ll run the search for my query and then scroll to the bottom of the page. You can dig through these ones and see if there are any related searches that could fit in your post. Now, you might be wondering if any of these search queries have search volume. If I go back to the Keywords Explorer overview page for our primary keyword target, then I can go to the “search suggestions” report to uncover a lot more suggestions that Google doesn’t show. Plus you can see all of the vital keyword metrics to make quick decisions. And look at this: the one about hardwood floors has a search volume of 700 monthly searches, and then we'll see other cool keywords on stick vacuums and robot vacuums. After going through some of these and picking and choosing the ones that would make a good fit, you should have covered your topic better than your competition. So let’s zoom on over to step #5, and that's to create a breathtaking title and hit that
Headline is everything.
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publish button. Headline is everything. It’s the one thing that stands between your visitors and your website. On social, the headline is usually the deciding factor before someone clicks through. And in Google Search, it’s the main thing that stands out. To find good headline ideas, try something like this: Search for your target keyword in Google and look for commonalities within posts like numbers or adjectives that you think will enhance your headline. Another cool way is to see what viral sites like Buzzfeed do. They spend a lot of time refining and testing their headlines, so use their ideas as inspiration. Just Google site:buzzfeed.com and I'll type in, "pet vacuum." And here are a few very clickable headlines. With these things in mind, I might make my title: "15 Best Vacuums for Pet Hair That Make Cleaning a Breeze (2018 Buyer’s Guide)." Onto step #6: and that’s to get your page speed under one second or fast enough that it won’t make someone angry. Getting your page speed under one second is tough. You would basically have to minimize third party tracking scripts, have little to no media, have stellar hosting and be a technical wizard. Now, you don't need to get your pages to load in under one second, but you don't want it to be so slow, that it deters people from going to your page. Google officially stated that site speed will be included in their ranking algorithm, and more recently, they said that mobile page speed will be used for mobile search rankings. What’s even more important is that page speed impacts revenue. Hubspot’s infographic on page speed shows that if your site makes $100,000 per day, a 1 second improvement in page speed could add an additional $7,000 per day in your pocket. And Google’s study shows that as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 32%. Without getting too technical, here are a few ways you can improve and test your page speed. First, go to Google’s page speed insights and enter in the URL of your page. Again, since I haven’t published this post, I’ll use this post from Consumer Reports. And if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a few recommendations to optimize this page for speed as well as instructions on how to do it. If you have any kind of image, javascript or CSS suggestions, then you’ll likely see a download link at the bottom of the page. You can click here to download the optimized files and then upload them to your server. If you're a Wordpress user, then you can use caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and there's also a great plugin called Short Pixel which compresses your images when you upload them to your server. Once you’ve implemented your speed optimizations, you can use a tool like Gtmetrix or Pingdom to test your page speed. Just paste in your address, choose the location you wish to start your test from, and start the test. From here, you’ll get a grade, speed, as well as more optimization tips. Now that your page is loading lightning fast, we’re on to step #7 and that's to promote the heck out of your content It goes without saying that you should promote it to your blog subscribers, email list, social media followers, and any niche forums you’re a part of. The one I want to touch on for the purpose of SEO is link building through email outreach. And this is what’s going to give you that boost you need to rank #1 on Google. So I’ll quickly break down a common tactic and give you a solid email outreach example. First you'll need to find people who have linked to your competitors. And this is really easy to do. I recommend going to the overview page in Keywords Explorer for your primary keyword target and scroll down to the top 10 SERPs. Then from here, you can scan the backlinks and referring domains column to see which pages have a good number of backlinks. Next, click on the backlinks number to open up their backlink profile. From here, I would add some filters like the "group similar links" or "one link per domain" filter since we don’t want to contact the same website owner multiple times. Then I'll set the link type to dofollow. From here, you can export the results, see who would make a solid link prospect, and email each person with a benefit rich pitch. Rather than being like, “Hi, I noticed you linked to this person, can you link to mine instead?” Try something helpful and speak in a more natural language.
Communication is the key!
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Here’s an example: Hey [name], I just saw your post on [this] and saw you mentioned the [vacuum cleaner model]. Did you hear that it got recalled? They were causing fires in people’s homes. Here’s a link to an article I published covering the details and some other vacuums that were just released. It might be worth updating that part on the recall or removing that part completely. Cheers, Sam So let me break this down. First, I addressed them by name. Then I tell them why I’m contacting them and the context of the rest of the email. Then I gave them a fact about something they mentioned and something that’s actually interesting. Then I gave them a resource on it, so yes, they are going to have to read part of my awesome post. Then, I suggested updating the part, and if they update it, of course they’ll link to me. But I’m not being pushy at all by telling them that they could also remove it, which they probably won’t want to do because it’ll require reworking the content or cutting out a good chunk of text. Here are a few blunt outreach tips I’ll leave you with. 1. Keep it short. 2. Talk to them like a human being. 3. Don’t be needy. 4. Have a really good reason to contact them. And the better your reason, the higher the probability of getting the link. We have a pretty solid series on link building and backlink analysis, so I highly recommend watching that series a bit later, because we still two steps left. Alright, awesome! After going through the link building grind, I’m gaining links, social shares, and getting all sorts of comments. And I’ve ranked on the front page of Google, but I can’t seem to crack anything beyond position 7. So what’s next? Let’s pair steps 8 and 9 and that’s to analyze your stats in Google Analytics and Google Search Console for underperforming content. After a few months have passed since I started ranking on the first page for my target keyword, I would login to Google Analytics and go to the all pages report and make sure the dates are set to the past few months to get a decent sample size of data. Next, I would find that page. And since we don’t have data on this post, let’s assume that it’s this one that we’re analyzing. Then I would quickly benchmark the time on page against the website’s average. Now, the goal here would be to make sure that the time on page is higher than the website’s average, which should tell us whether people are engaged with the content or not. And it looks like the time on page is pretty solid for this post. If you’re seeing lower than average metrics here, then it may be worth looking at your post with a fresh set of eyes. Ask yourself questions like: are people leaving because I’m not serving search intent? are they leaving because my content is objectively bad? Go back to your post, assess the situation, and make some optimizations to reach your target goals. Next, go to the Search Analytics report in Search Console. Here, I would make sure all of these checkboxes are checked so we can see all of the data in the table. Then you can set a queries filter by clicking here and then selecting "filter queries." Here you can enter in a keyword, so I might type in vacuum or hair to help filter down our results. But again, since we don’t have data on this, I’ll just type in SEO audit, so you can see some examples. And you can see here, our SEO audit post has an average ranking position of 1.7, which should result in about a 33% CTR, but we’re well below the mark. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try reworking the titles and meta descriptions or go back and reassess search intent. Now, if all things check out, yet you still can’t rank higher, then chances are you’ll need more links. And there’s one other thing that you can do, which brings us to our last and final step. Step 10 is to relaunch your content. There are very few topics that are truly evergreen. You and I live in a fast paced world with arguably the fastest technological advancements humankind has ever seen! Now, how exciting is that? So rather than letting your content rot for years and eventually lose your top rankings, you should update your content regularly. Here on the Ahrefs blog, we’ve seen significant boosts in search traffic simply by updating our old content. For our vacuum cleaner post, I would definitely want to update this in 2019, 2020, and so on. In this particular case, I would likely remove any products that I reviewed that are no longer relevant today and add new ones. After you’re done updating the post, change the publishing date to the current date and repromote your new guide. No one ever said that SEO is easy or that it won’t take time. But when you do it with this 10 step process, you can refine and scale this SEO strategy to kingdom come. And we have a lot of other helpful videos that dig deeper into some of these specific strategies that we went through like keyword research and link building, and content gaps, so I'll leave links to those in the description. And make sure to subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials. We have a lot of good stuff coming in the pipeline. So keep grinding away, get results, and I’ll see you in the next video.

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