How to Rank on Page 1 of Google With a Brand New Blog
Right now, if you search the term “viral posts” on Google, then you’ll see my blog post analyzing 100,000 viral articles show up on the first page:
This was completely intentional on my part. Keep in mind that this blog is relatively new and doesn’t have that much ranking power.
According to Open Site Explorer from Moz, my site has a Domain Authority (a measure of ranking power created by Moz) of 21:
This isn’t too bad, but it’s not that great either.
In this article, I’ll show you exactly what I did to get this page one ranking.
Pick a keyword you can compete for
When I first started this blog, I didn’t have any backlinks, so my site couldn’t compete for competitive terms. I had to search for relevant terms that I could compete for.
There are several tools for checking keyword difficulty. My favorite is Ahrefs, but it’s a paid tool. The best free tool is the MozBar chrome extension. You can see the Domain Authority and Page Authority (a measure of the ranking power of any specific webpage) of any site that appears in Google:
When deciding on a keyword to target, make sure that there are several results that have low Domain Authority and Page Authority. Also see how relevant some webpages are. Are there some that don’t seem to be too relevant for the keyword? That’s a sign you can target that keyword.
When I targeted the term viral posts, I saw sites with low Domain Authority and Page Authority. That showed that there was an opportunity for me to rank, even with the low Domain Authority that Growista had.
Keep in mind that a well-written article can rank higher than sites with higher domain authority and higher page authority, as I have done. I’ll talk more about creating content in the next section.
It’s possible to rank for completely obscure terms that no one searches for, but you need to balance keyword difficulty, relevance to your website, and monthly keyword volume. I recommend Ubersuggest to check keyword volume.
You can also use Ubersuggest to find keyword suggestions. Just enter a keyword you want to rank for, and it will then recommend similar keywords and their volume. While Ubersuggest does have a difficulty estimator, I like checking Domain Authority as it’s more nuanced.
Create Your Content
When it comes to creating content that ranks, there is a lot of advice out there. Google is constantly switching up its algorithm, meaning that some advice that worked in the past might not work in the future.
The best advice I’ve seen, which I’ve seen repeated from some of the best SEO practitioners out there like Brian Dean and Neil Patel, is to focus on exhaustive content that fulfills searcher intent.
Google wants to create content that fulfills what the searcher wants. As long as you do that, Google will continue to send traffic to you over the sites that don’t fulfill searcher intent.
Studies have consistently shown that the top ranking sites have longer content:
This doesn’t mean that longer content will always rank better. I find it interesting that the study found that content in the second position had more words than content in the first position. I imagine it’s more of a coincidence than anything.
What you should take away is that it’s up to you to write content that fulfills the searcher’s intent completely. Generally, that means your content will be on the longer side. I try to shoot for 1,500 – 2,000 words when writing a piece that I want to rank, but that’s just a guideline. There is shorter content that ranks in the first position and there is longer content that ranks in the first position.
When you actually go to type up your content, there are a lot of options that will fulfill searcher intent. How-to posts, videos, infographics, are just some of the many options you have.
My personal favorite type of content is original research content. That is, content that results from analyzing data and presenting it to your audience. It’s great for several reasons: it’s visual, it’s unique, and it’s effective at ranking. If you want to learn more, I wrote a 13,000-word guide on the entire process.
Be sure to put the keyword you’re targeting in the title of your post. Make sure the keyword appears a few times in your article. Don’t make it seem unnatural or out-of-place, just make sure it appears a few times in a context that makes sense.
Several of the top SEO practitioners have recommended using LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in your article. LSI keywords is just a fancy term to describe keywords that are similar to the keyword you’re targeting.
You can see the LSI keywords for any keyword if you just google a keyword and see what terms are bold on the page:
For the term viral posts, you can see that Google thinks it’s similar to phrases like “on social media” and “most shared facebook”. Sprinkle a few LSI keywords in your article. Again, make sure to not force it and put them in locations that make sense.
This is the only thing I do which seems to “game” Google a little bit, but I’ve seen the results and it only takes a few minutes of your time.
Build Backlinks to Your Article
There are over 200 ranking factors that Google takes into account. It’s so complicated that no one (not even the Google engineers themselves) can keep track of everything that goes into ranking a particular web page.
There are a few factors which matter the most: searcher intent (which I covered) and the backlink profile of a site and webpage. While they aren’t endorsed by Google, Domain Authority and Page Authority are the best ways we have of measuring the backlink profile of sites and webpages.
The number of backlinks you need to build to your page depends on how competitive the keyword you’re targeting is and the Domain Authority of your site. Mozbar also tells you the number of links that a webpage has, so you can use that as an estimate.
While there are many link building strategies, I’ll just mention the one that I use and which works especially well for data-driven content: outreach.
Simply find similar content to the one you’ve created and find people who linked to that content. The best tool I’ve found for finding backlinks is Ahrefs. It’s a paid tool, but if you want something free that is almost as good, check out the open link profiler.
Once you find people who have already linked to your site, email them if they ‘d be willing to write about your content. If you created something of quality, you can expect around 5% of your emails to result in a link.
Wait and Rank
Once you’ve created your content and built backlinks, the only thing you can do is wait. If you have a brand new site, then it will probably take a few months for you to rank on the first page of Google.
I had to wait about 2-3 months before I saw my article appear on page 1 for the term viral posts. I’ve seen sites rank content in a few days, but that was because they’ve existed for a while and have a strong backlink profile.
SEO is a long-term strategy. Once you wait a few months for your content to rank, you can reap the rewards for months to come. My viral posts article continues to send me traffic to this day.
While it requires a bit of upfront work, you can rank a brand new blog, as I have done with Growista. Just be smart about the effort you put in and be patient.
Also published on Medium.