One of my clients recently asked me this question, and I truly wish there was a step-by-step procedure I could offer to make this possible. But as you’ve probably already guessed, this isn’t the case.
I do have an answer to the question, but it’s probably not the one you were hoping for. In short, here it is: Apart from black-hat strategies and techniques that will likely get your permanently banned in Google, there’s no surefire way to get your keywords ranking quickly.
It wasn’t long ago that websites could rank relatively quickly for their chosen keywords; often by simply creating keyword-rich content and pointing a few links with keyword-rich anchor text to it. But since Google launched its Panda and Penguin algorithms, there are no more ‘quick wins’ in the SEO industry.
The competition across all industries is simply too stiff for white-hat tactics to produce these sorts of quick results anymore. Unless you’re the top dog with the top marketing budget compared to all your competitors, you’re never going to get those top rankings for highly-trafficked, competitive keywords.
This doesn’t mean you should give up on your SEO efforts, though. Just because you may not be able to rank for highly competitive keywords doesn’t mean there’s no hope for improving your search engine rankings and increasing your organic search traffic.
Following are the two SEO strategies I recommend to increase your overall search rankings as quickly and effectively as possible in today’s post-Penguin and post-Panda era of SEO.
1. Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
You probably already know this, but it’s so important it bears repeating. While ranking for even two or three-word phrases may not be as attainable anymore as it was just a few years ago, focusing on longer, more detailed keyword queries should be within your grasp. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific and targeted to the actual intent of the searcher, these visitors will be more likely to convert.
Rather than focusing on building keyword-specific pages, focus instead on building content that does a great job of covering all angles of a particular topic. Instead of using one or two keywords over and over again within your content, think about all the long-tail keyword variations that relate to that topic, and use them each within your content once. This will require you to perform some keyword research and know how to identify long-tail keywords. Here are some articles that will help with that:
Articles that focus on all aspects of a topic, thereby using LSI and long-tail keywords within it, will be regarded as more reputable, thorough, and relevant than those that simply use a few competitive keywords repeatedly.
Keep in mind that as search engines continue to move toward accommodating voice search (like Apple’s Siri), long-tail keywords and search will become even more important. This will mean focusing on natural language queries like ‘What’s the best Italian restaurant in Phoenix’ rather than ‘Italian food Phoenix’.
According to John Wiley, the lead designer for Google search, 15% of queries submitted to Google, on a daily basis, are brand new queries that Google has never received before. That amounts to 500 million new search queries every day that have never before been searched for. With the rise of mobile and spoken queries, that number figures to only increase in the future.
In my article, The Rise of the Long-tail Keyword for SEO, I made the claim that long-tail keywords are the new “right” way to target keywords for SEO campaigns. And how do you target long-tail keywords? By publishing lots of amazing, long-form, relevant content related to your industry that adds value for your target audience.
It may take years and a giant marketing budget to ever hope to rank for a highly-trafficked, competitive keyword like “car insurance.” But if you target the keyword “car insurance for a teenager while traveling abroad,” you just might find yourself at the top of the rankings in a much shorter amount of time; there’s a lot less competition for long-tail keywords, and as such, the path to the top is much easier and faster.
2. Create Buzz Through Brand Mentions
While there’s no doubt that inbound links are an important ranking factor for SEO, their power has been diluted by other ranking factors, as well as algorithms designed to detect manipulative links. We’ve learned from a patent recently filed by Google that a shift is coming in terms of how Google will determine a site’s authority.
Whereas historically incoming (followed) links have determined a site’s authority, this patent indicates that ‘implied links’ will also soon be used. These links may include “nofollowed” links, or even simple brand mentions or citations.
In his Moz article The Panda Patent: Brand Mentions are the Future of Link Building, Simon Penson encourages focusing on creating brand buzz, rather than relying solely on links. He writes: “Mentions alone do not tell the whole story, of course, and links are still very important in the overall mix of factors that affect rankings, but it is now time to start thinking about how you can create brand buzz and grow those mentions.”
The best way to ‘create brand buzz’ is to focus on building your brand through strategies like content marketing and social media marketing. As Google begins to focus more on brand signals, maintaining a strong focus on publishing awesome content and distributing that content through various social media channels will go a long way towards increasing your credibility and authority in the search engines.
Creating brand buzz will help you rank for all your niche’s keywords because it’ll build your domain’s authority and relevance through quality brand signals. More importantly, however, it’ll solidify your position for branded search results (ie, search queries that contain your brand name), keeping away negative reviews or attempts by dubious competitors to hurt your brand name via search results.
SEO Remains a Long-Term Proposition
Although this article has focused on how to rank for keywords as quickly as possible, it’s
important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term investment. Years ago, SEO could yield quick ROI and results, but now it requires a long, steady, unwavering approach to building your brand and publishing great content both on and off your website.
Google is wary of ranking companies highly in its search results unless it really trusts that those pages deserve those rankings, because Google has had plenty of backlash from its users over poor search results infiltrating the rankings. Do your pages really deserve to rank higher than the ones that are currently ranking in the top positions? As a neutral user, would you rather find your page or the one that’s already ranking in position #1?
There’s no ‘quick win’ when it comes to SEO; if that’s your goal, consider PPC. But if you want to execute an SEO campaign that delivers the best results in the fastest amount of time, focus on long-tail keywords and quality brand-building activities through a strategic content marketing campaign. Sustain these efforts over time, and you’ll prove your brand’s credibility, authority, and trustworthiness not only to your readers, but also to the search engines.
Do you agree with my take on this issue? Do you think it’s still possible to rank quickly for a given keyword? If so, how?