Every business wants to increase Google keywords rankings, but most struggle to do so.
Why is that?
Because most people trying to do SEO throw sh*t at the wall and hope for the best.
Those days are over.
Today, I’m going to show you how to increase your keyword rankings in Google step-by-step. Just follow my lead and you’ll start seeing improvements (as long as you put in the work).
6 Ways to Increase Your Google Keyword Rankings
1. Qualify Your Target Keyword(s)
One of the biggest issues I find is that people try to rank for keywords that are way too competitive (use this keyword research guide if you don’t have any keywords yet). For example, new websites shouldn’t be targeting competitive keywords.
That’s why you must go through the process of first qualifying your keyword based all the available data you have. Then, you need to analyze the competition for your target keyword to make sure it’s worth the time, resources, and effort.
This brief analysis will save you a lot of headache down the road. Let me start with the first part of this process, qualification.
Keyword qualification simply means confirming that your target keyword actually has interest. The most obvious qualification metric is monthly search volume that you can find within the Google Keyword Planner.
The reason why you don’t want to solely rely on search volume estimates is because:
- They aren’t 100% accurate
- Most people base their entire keyword research strategy on it and..
- There are other ways to qualify ideas outside of search volume. Those include user signals, social engagement, trends (from Google Trends), and even backlinks.
These are “signals” that your topic is qualified.
Watch this video to see exactly how to qualify your keywords:
After you’ve established that your keyword is worth your effort, you have to analyze your competition. There are two types of competitor analysis. The first is what I like to call the 10-second competitor analysis.
There are two ways to perform this short analysis. You can simply enter your target keyword in the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool.
Ahrefs will then give you estimated of the “Keyword Difficulty”.
I’ve actually found this to be pretty accurate.
I recommend reading my SEO content guide because I explain exactly what you need to look for.
If you keyword passes the qualification and competitor test, then you’re ready to move onto the next step.
2. Audit Your Site
Poor technical and UX performance can plague your site’s performance. That’s why it’s fundamental that you audit your site to make sure it’s on a strong foundation.
I recommend reading my SEO audit guide because it will show you every factor you need to look for.
The truth is most people don’t take technical SEO and User Experience (UX) seriously. This is a big mistake.
You have to remember that even if you do successfully improve your keyword rankings in Google, it’s not a guarantee that they will stick. The “stickiness” of your rankings will be determined by how users are interacting with your page and website as a whole.
Most tactics you’ll learn in this guide will increase your organic search traffic, but solid technical SEO and UX is what will keep users happy and keep them on your website.
After you’ve performed a site audit and cleaned all technical and UX issues, it’s time to dissect the page you’re trying to rank.
3. Analyze Your Target Page
You can get keyword research and technical SEO right, but if your target page sucks, you won’t rank well.
Nothing is more important than the actual page you’re trying to rank in Google.
If your target page doesn’t at least match the quality of what’s already ranking, then you have some work to do.
My philosophy for creating keyword-targeted pages is that the page must be substantially DIFFERENT and 10x more valuable than what currently exists.
Of course, users are who will decide what’s valuable, but you need to at least operate with these standards.
That means you need to be honest with yourself:
- Did you put in as much effort as your competitors?
- Does your page bring anything new to the table or is it just rehashed information that already exists?
- Is your page 10x more valuable than theirs?
These questions are easy to answer when you’re analyzing blog-driven search results.
But what about when you’re a local business?
Let’s say you’re a plumber and you want to rank for “best St. Louis plumber.”
The first thing you would want to do is look the ranking results and determine what the search intent is. From a customer cycle perspective, it’s obvious that the search query “best St. Louis plumber” is in the investigative or possibility transactional phase. This means the searcher is likely looking to hire a plumber in the near future.
But one other element you need to analyze is HOW are your competitors ranking.
In the case of “best St. Louis plumber”, you’ll notice that the majority of the local pack results are using homepages.
This is an indication that you should do the same.
But then the question is:
How do you create a homepage that is different and more valuable than what’s ranking?
It all starts with your service.
What makes your plumbing service different and better than your competitors?
Then after that, you need to think how you can be more helpful than your competitors.
- What information can you give your customers to help them make a better decision?
- What expertise can you give them in advance to prove that you’re the authority and plumber they should pick?
Lastly, focus on the design and UX for your homepage. The better the experience, the more likely a prospect will favor your company.
My favorite way to spice up a homepage is to add video content. Video is a powerful sales tool, but it can also help your SEO performance because it increases user dwell time on your page.
I recommend reading and taking action on my SEO content guide to understand the concepts I’ve mentioned on a deeper level.
Now I want to show you one of the quickest ways to improve your rankings (after you’ve taken the previous steps).
4. Leverage Existing Authority
As soon as I publish a new keyword-targeted page, I immediately look for opportunities to inject internal links to it. This is the fastest way to send authority to a page, which will often give it an immediate boost in rankings (once Google recognizes the changes). My order of operations is usually to add internal links on my most authoritative pages.
Here’s how you can do it:
Go to Ahrefs, click on Site Explorer, enter your URL and start the analysis.
Then click on “Best by Links” under the pages section.
Ahrefs will then show you what pages on your website have the most backlinks.
These are the pages you want to add internal links to if it makes sense. This strategy will give you nice boost in most scenarios, but usually won’t be enough to give you a dramatic push in rankings.
That’s why you need to then go through the process of acquiring more backlinks.
5. Acquire More Backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important factors for increasing your Google keyword rankings. I recommend reading my guide on backlinks because it will give you the foundation you need for understanding how to do effective white hat link building.
I also recommending watching this video:
I’m someone who prefers content-centric link building strategies.
My strategy is simple:
Create incredibly valuable content assets that people will WANT to link to.
The SEO content guide I mentioned above is a good place to start.
There are some link building tactics that I leverage that do not have content dependencies.
Some of those include:
- Guest posting
- Link lists/resource pages
- Expert roundups
- HARO submissions
- blogroll placements
It’s important to note that each of these link types requires different anchor text distributions to avoid getting penalized. For example, you should only use branded anchor text for blogroll link placements. That’s because most blogrolls are site-wide and you don’t want a keyword-rich anchor being distributed across thousands of pages.
Acquiring backlinks is a big topic and that’s why I’ve dedicated an entire page to it. Make sure you check out the guide above to learn more.
The last piece of the puzzle for improving your keyword rankings in Google is simple:
6. Be Patient
Most SEOs don’t talk about this because they usually have clients breathing down their throat. No client wants to hear “you just need to be patient” when they’re spending money on your SEO services. But it’s the truth.
In my experience, most SEO campaigns pick up steam around the 4-6 month mark, but this isn’t a rule. Every campaign is different and therefore unfolds in its own unique way.
Just stay the course. Keep creating value, acquiring quality backlinks, and caring about user experience. Do these things continually and your rankings will improve without risk of getting penalized.
It’s funny because I believe that impatience is the root of all SEO evil. People get sick of waiting for results, so they decide to jump into the grey or black hat world. I used to live in that world and I used to get results fast. But it doesn’t matter how quickly you get results, when they’re erased overnight.
I would rather take the slow and steady approach and build a long-term business. Don’t look for shortcuts because there aren’t any. Businesses that succeed with SEO in the long-term are those that add the most value to the Internet (with their target niche).
Last Word on Google Keyword Rankings
People still obsess about Google keyword rankings, but they aren’t the most important Key Performance Indictor (KPI). The most important KPI for an SEO campaign is ORGANIC SEARCH TRAFFIC.
Traffic is the goal of SEO. Not keyword rankings. Don’t forget that!
Now of course, you need to rank for keywords to get organic search traffic. But just to remember to prioritize traffic growth over individual keywords rankings as your primary KPI.