Your main objective has to be to serve your readers with good and useful information. But to reach potential visitors you do need the search engines.
And this is why you need to make it easy for search engines to understand your topical expertise. It is not about “gaming” the search engines – it is all about helping them understand.
This is also why you should spend time trying to rank old articles higher in the search engines. And you will find that it is often easier than trying to rank a brand new article.
It is important to understand that long term success in the search engines has to be earned. There are no shortcuts. It takes time and patience.
The good news? Anyone can achieve good rankings with hard work and dedication. You can outrank bigger websites. But you have to earn it. And it will not happen overnight.
You need to be prepared to wait for at least 6 months for your true ranking to show. I know it seems like a long time. But this is also why it is a good idea to also focus on trying yo rank old articles higher in the search engines.
From my experience your website will jump around a lot in the search engine rankings during those first 6 months.
But always remember, the search engines want to show your content as long as it is the best available information.
1. Stay focused and avoid the “shortcuts”
First, there are no shortcuts worth pursuing if you are building a website the right way.
You will over time get bombarded with different types of shady practices. And sure, these “tricks” could yield short term boosts. I say short term as the search engines are smart. And they do catch people who cheat or try to game the system.
I do not believe in using anything that is not considered good practice by the search engines. It is my firm belief that anything else will one day come back to haunt you.
And after all, you are trying to build something for the future. Why risk it?
If you are looking for any type of shady or questionable tips you can stop reading here. There will be none of that.
Instead I will give you a checklist to go through those days when you are full of doubt.
This article will help you stay focused and push you in the right direction in your quest for search engine success.
2. Select a keyword with search volume
It is hard to rank in the top 10 in the search engines. Top 3 is of course even harder.
But it can be done with careful planning and hard work.
And it is hard to rank for any keyword. So make sure that you target keywords with an existing search volume.
Pick keywords that people are actually searching for.
And there are many ways to see search volume data. There are even some free tools available.
Ahrefs is very popular and it is an excellent tool. But it will cost you about $100 per month. A worthwhile investment but it is also a tough cost to stomach when you are first starting out.
The Chrome extension Keyword Surfer will also give you search volume data. And it is free.
Knowing search engine data will help you pick keywords worth fighting for.
3. Keyword and search intent
When you have picked a keyword with an existing search volume you need to dig deeper.
Looking at your selected keyword, ask yourself if your article is answering the question or solving the problem for visitors. Or is there a way to improve to rank old articles higher.
It is so important to stay focused and to provide answers and solutions.
An excellent user experience will lead to visitors spending more time on your website. And search engines pay attention and will reward you.
There are several questions you can ask yourself:
- Would a 10 year old understand your article?
- Do you assume a certain level of knowledge for a beginner level question?
- Could a novice follow your instructions and be successful?
You should never dumb down your content. You just need to be clear and paint a complete picture.
And always, look at how other websites are presenting their information. If they are ranking in the top 10 they must be doing something right.
4. Look at the top 10 search results
Search for your keyword in your favorite search engine and look closely at the top 10 results that are returned.
Arte these websites like your website? Or are they something completely different?
If you are running a blog-type website it will be very difficult to rank if the search engines prefer to rank e-commerce stores or video content like YouTube videos.
If you are not seeing websites like your own in the top 10 you should rethink the keyword you have selected.
The search engines are telling you that they prefer the answers and solutions to be presented in a different manner by different types of websites.
You may not agree with them. But you will be facing an uphill struggle if you target keywords where search engines are rewarding other types of websites.
5. Now really analyze your competition
If you are meeting all the criteria so far you need to ask yourself why these other websites are outranking you.
There can be several reasons. And some, but not all, you can work actively to improve.
Age: If you have a website that is less than 2 years old there is always the risk that you are treated as the new kid on the block.
But it will be “easier” to rank old articles higher, everything else being equal.
You should at least expect your rankings to jump around for the first 6 months or so.
Keep your head down and take comfort in the fact that others may quit but not you.
Content: Look at your competitors and try to objectively rank the quality and user experience they deliver.
Are you sure your content can compete? Would you prefer your website to theirs? If not, why not?
Let your competitors inspire you and learn what you are missing. But never copy. That is a big no-no and there can be serious consequences.
Links: Do they have more links to their website and webpage? If they are an older, more established website they most likely have more external links.
Keep plugging away on HARO and outreach to find ways to build complementary links to your website.
But you should also focus on internal links to your web pages. Internal links are links from your own articles. Make sure to link to your own web pages where it makes sense. Here you can make an immediate improvement. All it takes is time and effort.
There are many ways to see links to a competitor’s website. Use Ahrefs or simply type “link:domain.com” into Google to see some of the web pages that link to a domain.
Improve Ranking of published articles
At this point you have looked at
- search engines
You have hopefully found some reasons to explain why your competitors are outranking you.
Some factors you just have to accept or work at patiently as they are outside our control. Age of your website and external links to your web pages are two good examples.
You should prioritize outreach and external link building from day 1. And I am not talking about any links.
Look for links from websites that complement your niche. If you for example are writing about herbs and vegetables it would make sense to partner up with a website offering food recipes.
But there are also things you can do. Here are 3 action points where you are in full control.
1. Write more content
Looking closely at your old articles you may find that there are blind spots. Areas your competitors but not you are covering.
When you analyse 10 competitors it is not unusual to come across 3 or 4 angles that need to be covered.
Using your own words, write that content and make it excellent.
More content will add to the user experience and help old articles rank higher.
2. Better content
Are you so busy producing new content that you forget about the articles you have already published?
That is a mistake.
You need to revisit the articles you have already published. Add a revisit day to your publishing schedule and make it a daily routine.
You are spending a lot of time writing articles. And your writing will improve over time.
You also learn more and get more experienced as you educate yourself to stay on top of the developments in your niche.
Make sure that this experience, skill and knowledge are also reflected in your earlier articles. Better content will make old articles rank higher.
Do not be afraid to update and improve. Your website should be a living and dynamic.
Note: If you have a web page that ranks extremely well you should be careful to update or change the article. Instead analyse and learn from the article.
3. More relevant internal links
Building external links takes time and you are not in control of the process.
You simply have to wait for other publishers and potential partners to respond to our outreach.
But you are in control of internal links from our own web pages.
It is far too common to write an article, publish it and then focus all efforts on the next article.
Look at the articles you have already published and lock for internal links to a from your own web pages.
Needless to say you should stay focused and on topic. The internal link needs to make sense and enrich the user experience.
But when you write articles in a well defined niche you will find many opportunities to link within your web pages.