How to Rank #1 in Google [New Step-by-Step Case Study]
In this video, I’m gonna show you
how to rank number one in Google step by step.
In fact, you’ll see the exact process
that I used to rank in the top three
for the keyword list building.
I’m Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko,
and today, I’m gonna show you
how to use strategies like the content roadshow
and the OBP formula to get higher rankings in Google.
We’ve got a lot to cover in today’s video,
so let’s get started.
I recently published a post to my blog called
17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies,
and my target keyword for that page was list building.
Now, the keyword list building is insanely competitive.
Think about it, every email marketing company
in the world wants to rank for this keyword,
and I’m a one-man show going head-to-head
against giant companies like MailChimp,
AWeber, and Infusionsoft.
Bring it on, bring it on.
At first, I wasn’t sure that
I’d be able to outrank these big brands
for such a competitive keyword,
but thanks to the process I’m about to share with you,
by post quickly hit Google’s first page
for my target keyword.
Today, I rank in the top three for list building.
My post also ranks number one in Google
for dozens of related keywords like list building tips,
list building strategies, and more.
Thanks to all these first-page rankings,
that single piece of content
has brought in 79,807 visits since I first published it.
Okay, enough bragging.
It’s time for me to show you how I did it.
Specifically, I’m gonna show you
how to rank in Google for competitive keywords.
Without further ado, let’s kick things off
with step number one, make your content insanely actionable.
Google recently rolled out a major update
to their algorithm called RankBrain.
RankBrain measures how Google searchers
interact with your site in the search results.
If people like your result,
Google gives you a rankings boost.
If not, they’ll drop your rankings like a stone.
From my own SEO experiments,
I found that all Google searchers want
the same thing, actionable content.
Think about it.
When someone searches for something in Google,
they don’t want to read some random person’s opinion.
Instead, they want tactics
that they can use to solve their problem right away.
If you can give that to them,
Google will notice and bump you up a few spots.
For example, when you search for the keyword list building,
you don’t want to hear
why building your email list is important.
You don’t want my take on the future of list building.
You want simple strategies that you can use right away.
That’s why my post has zero fluff and zero filler.
It’s literally a short intro
and 17 bite-sized tips that you can implement
within a few minutes.
Because Google searchers love my result,
I rank above sites like HubSpot and Forbes
even though they have way more backlinks than I do.
Next up, it’s time for step number two,
use the OBP formula.
I recently conducted the biggest
search engine ranking factor study ever,
and one of our most interesting findings
was that sites with a low bounce rate
tend to rank above sites with a high bounce rate.
As you might already know, a bounce is
when someone visits your site,
and then quickly jumps back to the search results.
Obviously, if lots of people bounce from your site,
it sends a strong message to Google
that people don’t like your content.
Like I just mentioned, if people aren’t liking your content,
Google will notice, and drop your rankings.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way
to improve your bounce rate, the OBP formula.
It’s a content introduction formula
specifically designed to reduce your bounce rate.
Here’s how it works.
First, you have the outcome.
Start your intro off with the outcome
that your reader wants.
For example, what does someone
searching for list building want?
More email subscribers, so I start my intro off
with that outcome front and center.
Okay, so now that you’ve hooked them
with the outcome, it’s time for the benefit.
Here’s where you outline the benefit
that someone will get from reading your content.
For example, my intro says that
you’ll get access to 17 techniques
that’ll help you get more leads.
Finally, it’s time for the preview.
This is simply where you preview
what your content has in store for them.
For example, my preview gives people
a sneak peak into my post,
which makes them want to keep reading.
Now it’s time for our third step, use external links.
Last year, an SEO agency in the UK
ran an experiment to see if linking to other websites
helped improve Google rankings.
They found that pages that used external links
consistently outranked pages that didn’t link out.
That’s why I always generously link out
to other authority sites in my content.
For example, in my post,
I use 16 external links, including links to authority sites
like the Journey of Commercial Research.
Now, to be clear, I don’t think that
external links are super important,
but every little bit helps,
especially when you’re going after competitive keywords.
Now that you’ve added external links,
it’s time to use internal links.
Next, it’s time to create internal links
that point to the page that you want to rank.
In other words, add links from other pages
on your site to your new post.
Those internal links will send
link authority to your post,
which can help your Google rankings.
For example, you can see that I link
from these two pages on my site
to my list building post,
which funnels juice to the post that I want to rank.
Not only that, but the pages I’m linking from
are topically related to my list building post,
so this tells Google, hey,
these closely-related pages are all
linking to the same post.
That post must be important,
so you should rank it higher.
Okay, so now that your links are good to go,
let’s move on to the fifth step,
add images, visuals, and other multimedia.
Imagine that you had two pieces of content.
Let’s call them Blog Post A and Blog Post B.
Let’s say that both pieces of content
were exactly the same with one major difference.
Content A looked ugly,
and Content B used lots of nice images.
Which post will do better?
According to lots of industry research, Content B.
In fact, a study conducted by Sheffield University
in the UK found that people judge content
based on design first.
Then, they size up the actual written content.
If your content is a giant, ugly wall of text,
Google users are gonna instantly bounce,
but if your content uses lots of images,
charts, visualizations, infographics,
videos, and quizzes, they’re gonna stick around
and read your stuff, which can help your ranking in Google.
For example, my post is packed with screenshots,
visuals, and other multimedia
that help make my content look nice.
Now, I should point something out.
You don’t need to go crazy
and use a million images in every post.
Our search engine ranking factor study
found that content with one image
outranked pages that didn’t use a single image.
Using one image is way better
than not using any at all.
With that, it’s time for step number six,
CTR-optimize your title.
Like I mentioned earlier, Google pays very close attention
to how people interact with your site,
and they want to see that people
click on your site in the search results.
If an above average amount of people
click on your site, it tells Google
people really want to see this content,
and we need to push it to the top of the page.
This is known as organic click-through rate,
which is an SEO ranking factor
that’s becoming more and more important every day.
If you’re not optimizing your site for CTR,
you’re missing out on a lot of organic traffic.
With that, here’s exactly what I did
to optimize my title for click-through rate.
First, I emphasize that people could
use my content right away.
Like I mentioned before, Google searchers are impatient.
They want an answer to their question
or help with their problem now,
so it’s important to emphasize that
your advice works quickly.
That’s why I included the phrase,
“That work fast,” in my title.
Next, I made sure to use a number in my title.
Several industry studies show that
titles that contain a number get clicked on more
than titles without a number,
and a recent study by Polar found that
odd numbers perform slightly better than even numbers,
so I made sure to include
the odd number 17 in my title tag.
The combination of emphasizing quick results
and using an odd number helped increase my organic CTR,
which pushed my site over my competitors
on Google’s first page.
Moving right along to step number seven,
which is to optimize your content for semantic SEO.
You already know that you should mention
your target keyword a few times in your content.
For example, you can see that
I mention my keyword a handful of times throughout my post.
Now, I’m not keyword-stuffing here.
That doesn’t work anymore.
I’m just using my target keyword a few times
to let Google know that my content is about that keyword,
and to help them understand my content even better,
I optimize it for semantic SEO.
This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds.
Semantic SEO simply means that
Google now tries to understand the topic of your page,
not just individual keywords.
To take advantage of semantic SEO,
all you need to do is sprinkle
related words and phrases into your content.
These related words and phrases
help Google understand your content’s topic.
For example, let’s say that you just wrote a post
about being more productive,
and your main keyword for that post is productivity tips.
You just search for that keyword
and related keywords in Google.
Then check out the searches related to terms
at the bottom of the first page.
Finally, add those terms to your content.
You can also use Google Suggest.
Enter your keyword into Google,
and see what Google suggests to you.
Again, add a handful of these to your article,
and you’ll help Google better understand
what your content is all about.
In my case, I found semantically-related terms
like list building strategies
and how to build an email list,
so I added those terms to my content where it made sense.
Let’s keep it moving with step number eight,
generate lots of comments on your blog posts.
Can comments really help your content
rank better in Google? Definitely.
In fat, a Google employee recently said
that comments can help a lot with rankings.
If you go to my blog, you’ll notice that
I tend to get lots of comments on every post.
These comments are one of the main reasons
that I’m able to rank for so many competitive keywords.
The question is, how do you actually get people
to comment on your content?
Here are two tips that work great.
First, reply to every single content.
I’m shocked at how many people complain
that no one comments on their stuff,
and then completely ignore the few comments
that they do get.
To show people that I respect their take,
I reply to almost every comment that comes in.
For example, you can see that I took the time
to reply to everyone that left a comment
on my list building post.
This shows anyone that reads my post
that I read and reply to comments,
which makes them more likely
to leave a comment too.
Over time, Google sees that my content
isn’t just a page of text,
but an active community, so they rank it higher.
That said, the hardest part is usually
getting the ball rolling with the first few comments,
which leads us to our second tip,
make a conclusion or call to action to comment.
Let’s face it, most people’s conclusions
are boring summaries of their post.
They say things like, “There you have it,
“six ways to blah, blah, blah.”
Needless to say, a conclusion like that
isn’t gonna light a fire under anyone’s butt
to actually write a comment.
Instead, I recommend making your entire conclusion
a call to action that encourages people to comment.
For example, today, my post conclusion
asks people to subscribe to my newsletter,
but in the early days of the post
where I tend to get 75% of my comments,
my conclusion looked something like this.
With that, it’s time for our ninth strategy,
use click-to-Tweet buttons.
This is one of my favorite ways
to get more social shares and traffic.
I’ll explain how click-to-Tweet buttons work
in detail in a minute, but the basic gist is that
you add a bunch of buttons to your content
that people can use to Tweet
individual strategies from your post.
In fact, my list building post
includes 17 click-to-Tweet buttons.
Now, I should point something out.
Google probably doesn’t use social shares
like Tweets, Facebook likes, or Pinterest pins
as a direct ranking signal.
In other words, people sharing your stuff
on social media won’t help with SEO directly.
That said, social shares can bring your content
more traffic, and the more traffic you get,
the better your chances that some of these visitors
will link to your site.
Those links will directly improve your rankings.
With that, here’s how to create
click-to-Tweet buttons step by step.
First, find a tip, strategy,
or quote in your content that’s worth sharing.
For example, because my content was a list post,
I decided that every technique on my list
would make for a great Tweet.
Next, use clicktotweet.com to make a click-to-Tweet button.
Simply write the Tweet you want,
and it’ll create a link that you can use.
Finally, add those links to your content.
You can use buttons like I used here,
or you can just make the links plain text like this.
Either way works.
When someone clicks on one of your click-to-Tweet buttons,
they’ll get a pre-made Tweet that they can use
to share that specific strategy with their followers.
Let me tell you, these work great.
In fact, most of the Tweets that I got on my post
are from people that shared using my click-to-Tweet buttons.
With that, it’s time for strategy number 10,
promote your content with the content roadshow.
Here’s the deal, if you want to rank in Google today,
you need to strategically promote
every piece of content that you publish.
In fact, this is a mistake I made
when I was first starting out.
When I launched my first website a few years ago,
I would just publish a bunch of content
and hope for the best.
I call this the publish-and-pray approach.
Please rank in Google, please rank in Google,
please rank in Google.
Back then, I underestimated how hard it can be
to actually get people to see
the content that you publish,
so I just published and prayed.
One day, I read that WordPress-powered sites alone
put out two million blog posts every single day.
That’s when I realized that
the chances of my content standing out
without any promotion was like winning the lottery,
so I decided to promote everything that I published.
Over the years, I developed a handful
of content promotion strategies that work great.
One of my favorites is called the content roadshow.
Thanks to the content roadshow,
I was able to get my post in front of influential bloggers,
bloggers that shared my post with their audience.
With that, here’s the step-by-step process.
First, find people that are legitimately
interested in your post’s topic.
For example, for my content, I found people
that wrote about building an email list,
or people that had shared content on that topic.
You can find these people by searching in Google,
or using a tool like BuzzSumo.
Next, you want to email these people
to see if they’re interested in reading your content.
This is key.
You see, when most people promote their content,
they’re way too pushy.
In fact, I get emails like this all the time,
emails that ask or beg me to share their stuff,
and I instantly delete them.
Delete, delete, delete.
Instead, I recommend a two-step approach.
First, send the blogger this email
that gauges their interest in your content.
That way, you’re not shoving a link in somebody’s face.
Here’s a real life example.
When someone gets back to you
saying that they’d like to check out your content,
then send them a link.
Also, note that I don’t ask for a share here.
Again, the point of the content roadshow
isn’t to be a pushy jerkface.
I mean, nobody likes a pushy jerkface.
Instead, the goal is to get your content
in front of people that have the power to share it,
and these people aren’t dumb.
If they like your content, they’ll share it.
There’s no need to even ask.
In fact, you can see that many of the people
that I reached out to
happily shared my content with their followers,
which led to hundreds of visitors
that would’ve never seen my content otherwise.
Now, before we close out this video,
let me show you a cool little bonus tip,
which is to regularly update your content.
Back in the day, I’d publish a post,
promote it, and never look at it again.
I realized that, over time,
a lot of the content on my blog was out of date.
For example, for my list building post,
I had old screenshots, outdated numbers,
and tools that didn’t even exist anymore.
Not only did this outdated content hurt my readers,
but it was bad for SEO too.
Whenever someone came to my site from Google
and saw that my stuff was outdated,
they’d bounce back to the search results
to find something that was up to date.
That’s why I set aside about one day per quarter
to review my content and update it.
Sometimes, my content just needs a new paint job,
so I’ll replace broken links, add new screenshots,
and rewrite certain sections
to make them more current.
I’ve done this a few times over the past year or so,
and I’ve noticed that these small tweaks
and upgrades help improve my content’s long-term rankings.
Sometimes, a new paint job won’t cut it.
My content needs a complete overhaul.
For example, this post on my blog was pretty out of date.
It was also lacking a lot of detail
compared to the other content
that was ranking for my target keyword, white hat SEO,
so I went in and completely overhauled
and upgraded my post.
For example, I improved my page’s readability
and structure so that Google searchers
could find what they needed even faster.
I also added a new case study
to make the steps easier to understand and implement.
Finally, I answered questions that people asked me
in blog comments and on Twitter.
For example, lots of people asked me
if the ROI of creating awesome content is really worth it,
so I added some data to show that,
at least in this example, publishing world-class content
is well worth it.
Those improvements helped increase
that page’s organic traffic by over 250%.
Okay, so I hope today’s video
helped show you how to rank in Google,
and if you learned something new from this video,
make sure to subscribe to
the Backlinko YouTube channel right now.
Just click on the subscribe button below this video.
Also, if you want exclusive SEO strategies
that I only share with subscribers,
head over to backlinko.com and sign up for the newsletter.
Now, I want to turn it over to you.
Which strategy from today’s video are you gonna try first?
Are you gonna start using external links,
or update your older content?
Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
Am I good, lined up?
That’s a lovel– (mumbles)
Is that how you make it rain?
I don’t know, it’s like (moans)
You were doing, like, a three-finger.
So I added those terms to my co–
I needed to be ready.
Bring it on, bring it on.