The Internet has plenty of information about ranking sites high on Google, but unfortunately, a lot of it is wrong or misleading. You will also find information about useful techniques, but on their own, they are not enough to put you on the first page of Google results. The two-step method that we are going to discuss has always worked ever since Google first appeared in 1998.
WHY RANKING WELL AND MAINTAINING YOUR RANK ON GOOGLE IS CRITICAL
Traffic is the engine of any online business. To keep your business running, you have to constantly find new customers. When you don’t get enough visitors, you can’t generate enough leads and that translates into poor sales. Relevant organic traffic is the cheapest way to get prospects to your site. For this, you must rank well on popular search engines like Google.
In 2014, Google made changes to its ranking algorithms with Panda and Penguin updates. Many sites lost their high rankings and traffic overnight. Their business was crippled because there was no way to regain Google’s trust and their rankings immediately. It would have taken a long time and tremendous effort to even attempt a recovery. Eventually, many of those companies went out of business.
So, why did these companies lose their rankings so suddenly? Most of them employed methods designed to fool Google or take advantage of some loopholes or weaknesses in its algorithms. With our two-step method, you don’t have to worry about getting ‘slapped’ by Google. This method rests on a solid foundation that has worked since the early days of search engines.
THE TWO STEPS TO A HIGH GOOGLE RANKING
Google judges the quality and usefulness of your site by the number and quality of backlinks that point to it. This makes sense because reputable sites will normally send their users only to good sites. You can use this fundamental principle to improve your ranking. Here are the two steps.
Step 1: Find which sites rank on the first page of Google for your target keywords. Check their backlink profiles to find which sites link to them.
Step 2: Make a list of the best and most authoritative sites among them and get backlinks from those sites to your site.
That’s it! Of course, this is an oversimplification, but it always works. This method will give you better and faster results than any other method that you may try. Let’s look at it in more detail.
IDENTIFYING AND ANALYZING YOUR COMPETITION
The key is to identify sites that rank on top of Google for keywords that you are targeting. They are your competitors as far as Google rankings are concerned. Those sites are on top for a reason. Identifying and analyzing them is your starting point. With a little effort, you can then match and likely outdo them in rankings.
The idea is to find the sites that link to competing sites. All backlinks are not equal and you have to find the ones that matter. There are a number of factors that decide the importance of backlinks and discussing all of them is beyond the scope of this article. Backlinks that carry the maximum weight originate from popular and authoritative sites that have earned Google’s trust.
There are several tools that will tell you how significant a site is. Some of them are listed below, but you can always get a quick idea by checking the site out. Here are a few ways to quickly check.
1. Does the site look professional?
2. Is it updated regularly? How many pieces of new content are published and at what frequency? If the site is frequently updated with consistent quality content, it is a good indicator that backlinks from it will carry weight.
3. The Alexa ranking of a site is a good indicator of its popularity. Alexa ranks sites in decreasing order of popularity. So, sites with lower scores are more popular. For example, Google.com is currently ranked No. 1, indicating that it is the most visited site among Alexa plug-in users.
You should also analyze the backlink profiles of sites that link to your competing sites. You can use the same tools that you used to analyze your competing sites to check the backlink profiles of the sites linking to your competitors. If a competitor’s backlink provider has inward links from authoritative sites, it reconfirms its importance and also tells you how it fits into the larger scheme of things. Getting a backlink from a site that has quality inward links is a winning combination.
While search engines like Google are getting increasingly better at detecting junk sites, they are no match for humans when it comes to estimating the usefulness of a site based on its content. For this, they depend on backlinks.
A backlink is treated as a vote for your site and if it comes from an established and popular site, it carries a lot of weight. When the backlink provider has a lot of quality backlinks pointing to it, you benefit from the combined weight of those backlinks. This is commonly known as the ‘link juice.’
While it will be great to get a backlink from a good site that links to your competitor, it’s not always possible. For example, the link may be from a site owned by the same company, their web developers, a news article or a site that is no longer active. In such cases, just move on to the next backlink possibility.
AN EXAMPLE TO ILLUSTRATE THE POWER OF THIS TECHNIQUE
Normally, I don’t disclose significant details about any particular site. However, just to illustrate the concept, take the example of the site www.aprilaire700.com. This is a brand new site and it was ranked on page 13 of Google search results for its main keyword.
With the two-step method just discussed and a little work, the site is now on the second page of results. There are many backlink opportunities that I have not yet exploited and it will just be a matter of time before this site appears on the first page.
SITE RANKING ANALYSIS TOOLS
You can use Google Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster Tools) to analyze your own site. To use this tool, you only need a Google account. You can then add your site to the Search Console. However, don’t expect Google to report all backlinks because if they did it would become easier for people to reverse engineer their ranking algorithm and rank their site.
To use this method, you have to discover the backlinks pointing to your competitor’s site. There are many site analysis tools to help you do this:
1. Moz Open Site Explorer - Costs $149/month.
2. Ahrefs - Starts at $99/month.
3. SEMrush - Starts at $69.95/month.
You will also find numerous online as well as standalone software for analyzing sites. I use the dedicated software available at LinkAssistant.com and sometimes use it in combination with the above tools.
You should expect these tools to report different sets of backlinks. Every tool has its own bots and algorithms to crawl the web and although you can expect a lot of overlap, the results will not be identical. However, just one of these tools is enough to use the two-step method to boost your site ranking.
There are a lot of factors like keyword search volume, on-page SEO, and domain link popularity that affect rankings, but the quality of your backlinks makes the major difference. You can, of course, try to exactly match the backlink profile of your competitor, but the quicker and more practical approach is to target only those sites that carry significant weight. It takes time to go through the two steps, but with a little time and experience, you will be able to boost your site ranking within a few days.