How to Rank Higher on Google (6 Easy Steps)
Your website on Google’s 15th page despite your efforts is frustrating.
Sometimes nothing works. Your website is hated by Google.
Interested? Keep reading.
- Find underperforming keywords
- Pick a keyword to rank higher for
- Figure out why you’re being outranked
- Beat the other pages where it matters
- Track rankings
- Repeat for other keywords
Step 1: Find underperforming keywords
Most SEOs push to page 2 to page 1.
Gaining 10+ spots isn’t easy.
Page 1 isn’t enough for traffic.
First, obviously. Imagine:
Two is easier than ten.
Consider the first few Google results pages’ CTR curves.
Clickthrough rate plummets as rank drops.
Moving from #5 to #4 will increase traffic more than #20 to #10.
Your keyword gets 10,000 monthly searches.
54=+210 monthly visitors
Focus on your top 2-10 keywords.
Paste your domain into Ahrefs Site Explorer, then go to the “Organic Keywords” report.
Site Explorer>enter domain>organic search>add filter
Filter-owned SERP features to see “true” rankings. “Exclude,” “All features,” “Only linking to target”
Step 2. Rank for a keyword
This filtered report shows keywords where you rank second. Improve.
Skim this list for keyword ideas.
Low-value or hard keywords are useless. How to spot top candidates.
a) High-traffic keywords
Focus on top keywords to boost organic traffic.
They attract the most visitors.
The Ahrefs report:
A one-position boost can increase CTR by 93% for these keywords.
One ranking boost can double keyword traffic. Doubling is useless.
Check “Volume” for keyword popularity.
c) Keywords with low KD scores
Keyword Difficulty is KD. Higher scores are more difficult.
Ranking for KD50 keywords is harder than KD20.
Prioritize lower KD scores.
d) Keywords with high business value
Organic traffic is useless if it doesn’t boost sales.
Prioritize business keywords.
Consider owning a New York bakery.
“New York bakery” is a better keyword than “cupcake recipe.”
Despite having 7x more searches, “New York bakery” is more valuable.
Third-party keywords, not yours.
Ahrefs ranks #6 for “google keyword planner”
It’s an SEO keyword. If we click the “SERP” dropdown, we see this isn’t true.
We’re ranked low by Google.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a brand.
We could never outrank Google for this query.
f) Keywords above you without SERPs
Ahrefs ranks them.
Ahrefs ranks our “how to use Google Trends” guide #4.
Only SERP features rank higher than us on SERP.
Some SERP features can be ranked. Don’t chase keyword rankings just yet. Keep things simple.
Step 3. Determine why you’re behind
One website can rank higher than another for hundreds of reasons.
We’ve studied “ranking factors” and found three things to correlate highly with rankings and traffic:
But before those, there’s a more important ranking factor.
Google returns relevant search results. Their business model depends on doing this for billions of searches. They’ve invested heavily in query intent, or why someone searched.
Top-ranking “link building” pages are blog posts and guides, not link-building companies.
Google knows link-building searches aren’t commercial.
But… You’re doomed if your page doesn’t match search intent.
What’s search intent?
Analyze the first page of search results for the three C’s of searcher intent.
Content types include blog posts, products, categories, and landing pages.
Formatted content appears on blogs and landing pages. Blog formats include how-tos, tutorials, lists, and opinions.
Calculators are landing page tools.
The content’s USP. It’s a hook that gets searchers to click.
Matching search intent boosted us from #40 to #6 in four days.
Because we match searcher intent, we’re #1 for “backlink checker.”
Ensure your content matches the searcher’s intent. You’ll lose.
Let’s look at “traditional” SEO.
a) Number of referring domains
We found a correlation between referring domains and rankings in 1 billion web pages.
More backlinks should boost your rank. Count outranking pages’ referring domains in SERP.
In your keyword’s “Organic keywords” report, click “SERP.” Domains
As shown above, we rank #7 for “SEO tools” with 97 referring domains.
We’re outranked 3-34x.
Unique links boost rankings.
We’re #5… (Or #3 without SERP)
This means referring domains are irrelevant.
Something hinders us.
b) Page Authority
Google PageRank measures “backlink authority”
Google emphasized PageRank two years ago.
PageRank was discontinued in 2016. Now PageRank is hidden.
Ahrefs has PageRank-like URL Rating (UR).
URL Rating, like PageRank, considers backlink quantity and quality. Scale 0-100.
SEO and UR:
“Backlink authority” boosts rankings and traffic.
Analyze top-ranking pages’ referring domains and UR.
Check the “UR” column for your target keyword.
Our competitors for “keyword research” have higher UR scores.
We may need to improve this for this keyword.
Google’s “website authority” signals are mixed.
Google doesn’t use it, tweeted Gary Ilyes.
John Mueller of Google said they look at “similar” metrics.
Domain Rating (DR), Ahrefs’ “website authority” metric, correlates with rankings.
Google favors high-authority sites for some queries, say most SEOs.
Top-ranking pages average 80.4, and the “weakest” has 74.
Unsure if searchers expect big brands to rank or if Google considers website authority.
You won’t rank for this keyword unless you’re a big, well-known brand.
Check top sites’ DR.
if sites above you with similar DR rank higher, you could too.
A keyword-focused article may be the only way to rank a less-authoritative site.
“SEO image naming” is an example.
#5 is from DR50, but most top pages are from high-authority sites.
This page’s referring domains and UR score are lower than others.
This less-known website’s page ranks well due to its focused content. Never exact. Consider a site’s authority and popularity when choosing a keyword.
Step 4. Beat the other pages where it matters
If the number of referring domains is the main issue
Improve your page’s links. That’s it
We have many link-building guides. Next.
- 9 EASY Link Building Strategies (That ANYONE Can Use)
- How to Get Backlinks: 7 Tactics That Don’t Require New Content
- How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (and Get Results)
- Guest Blogging for SEO: How to Build High-quality Links at Scale
- A Simple (But Complete) Guide to Broken Link Building
- A Simple Guide to Turning (Unlinked) Brand Mentions into Links
If page authority is the main issue
Page links (see above)
“Powerful” and relevant internal links.
Internal links can boost a page’s traffic. If page authority is low, build backlinks.
Practical SEO Internal Links
If website authority is main issue
It’s the hardest.
Try a “easier” keyword if your DR is low.
SERP can be beaten by page wins.
That means adding backlinks.
Your DR will improve with consistency. This helps your site rank for competitive keywords.
Create a “linkable asset” to improve DR, then use internal links to boost a page’s rank.
Step 5. Track rankings
Google ranking requires tracking. Ahrefs Rank Tracker is needed.
10,000 keywords are tracked (depending on your plan). Each page’s keyword is tracked.
Click “Add keywords” and paste or type the keywords you want to track.
Rank Tracker > Project > “Add keywords”
Finally. Now ranking.
Rank Tracker’s graph tracks keyword rankings.
Step 6. Repeat for other keywords
Excellent keyword rank. Popularity wins.
Repeat for each keyword. Again. Before obsessing over rankings…
Rankings are overrated; traffic is what counts
Only 49% of the top 10 pages for over 100,000 keywords get organic traffic.
SEO isn’t just keyword rankings.
See why by searching for “keyword research.”
Over 2,600 keywords rank on our page. (See “Keywords,” above.)
Second, we get a lot of traffic from other keywords.
Third-place for “keyword research” gets 6.4% of US organic traffic.
92.5% (17k+ monthly visits) are from other keywords.
How can thousands of keywords generate traffic?
Authorize a page
Google ranking is easy. Some keywords are harder. Why pursue keywords you already rank for?
Fix why you’re outranked.
Message me if you have questions.