How to get a #1 ranking in Google

June 21, 2006 at 6:15 am 1 comment

There are four major ways to get traffic to your site: search engines, links from other sites, feeds (especially blogs) and advertising. Of those four, a lot of effort is spent trying to get a good ranking in the various search engines, especially Google. Why? Because a good ranking is a sure way to get a lot of traffic, and the #1 spot on the search engine results page (SERP) for a given keyphrase is a prime traffic generator indeed. (Well, assuming anyone’s actually searching for that keyphrase…)

Some readers I’ve talked to have expressed surprise in discovering their own page in the #1 position on a Google SERP. “How is this possible?”, they ask, “when there are no links to my page and it has no PageRank?”

There are two fallacies here. One is that the Google “link:” command shows all the links to a given page. It doesn’t, it only shows a partial list of pages that meet some unknown criteria. A better way to find out who links to your page is to search for your page’s URL while excluding your own site. For example, to find out which pages in Google link to I can do this search:

As I write this, the search returns about 252 results. Try it here (opens new window).

The second fallacy is that PageRank is required to rank. But PageRank is just one ranking attribute. The lack of PageRank doesn’t mean you won’t rank. Of course, the higher the PageRank the better — think of it as a tie-breaker for similarly-ranking pages. Also, the PageRank you see reported for a page isn’t necessarily accurate. Remember that the Google Toolbar is just presenting a scaled approximation of the page’s actual PageRank on a convenient 0-10 scale.

So how do you get a #1 spot in Google? Well, the first thing to do is get the page indexed. You can submit the entire site using the link on my handy Search Engine Submission Pages list, but it usually takes a while for anything but the first page to actually make it into the Google index. The easiest way to get a specific page into the Google index is to link to it from a blog that is frequently crawled by Google. This is why the spammers talk about the “blog and ping” approach, because it gets their spam more quickly into the search engines.

Actually, I lied. Getting it in the index is the second thing you want to do. The first is to do basic search engine optimization on the page based on the keyphrase you’re targeting. You know the drill:

  • Keywords in URL somewhere, ideally separated by hyphens
  • Keywords in title, near or at the beginning
  • Keywords in headings
  • Keywords near the top of the page

Really basic stuff. Once the page content is optimized, then link to it from a blog.

Will this work for all keywords? Of course not! You have to choose the right keyphrase. One where there aren’t a lot of pages in the index already, or where the pages that rank near the top don’t highlight the keyphrase as well as you do.

And that’s the hard part: getting a #1 ranking in a competitive area is hard. Because you’ll be competing against sites with high PageRank. Because you’ll be competing against sites that Google views as authoritative. Because you’ll be competing against sites that are older (the age of a resource currently plays an important part in Google rankings — if you have an old domain lying around you might want to consider using it to give your content a boost).

One trick that people use is to “narrow” the desired keyphrase by adding one or two more keywords. This can let you grab a #1 spot for the keyphrase and at the same time may get you to rank highly (but not necessarily in the top 10) for the “wider” keyphrase. For example, I have the #1 spot in Google for electronic fence guide. But I also have the #4 spot for electronic fence by itself. (Long-time readers will note the change — the keywords used to be “invisible fence” instead of “electronic fence”, but the lawyers for Invisible Fence made me rename my site to the Guide to Electronic Fence and Pet Containment.)

Don’t work too hard at grabbing #1 spots, though. Work on your content, keeping the simple SEO principles in mind. Many #1 rankings are accidental. I’ll freely admit that my #1 ranking for blackberry development (for my BlackBerry Development Notes page) is accidental and amusingly outranks Research in Motion’s own pages. I got it, though, because I provided some good information on a specialized topic. You can do the same thing!

Originally from An AdSense Blog: Make Easy Money with Google on April 27, 2006, 11:15am

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Entry filed under: Affiliate Tips, Blogging Tips, SEO.

Are AdSense publishers being favored with more frequent indexing? Web Marketing Metrics

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. MrFlicks  |  December 19, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Five ways at least as your own writing can also often get yo there to!

    Accidental or planned ?

    Find them and build upon them!


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