How to rank #1 in Google using blogging
Updated: Mar 21
"How do I rank on the first page of Google?"
"How do I generate more organic traffic?"
Hopefully, this blog post will help you answer these questions.
As we discussed in our introduction to SEO your content strategy should be focused on a small number of core topics that you want to be known for. By creating content based on the search queries related to your core topic in ‘cluster’ blog posts, Google will be able to crawl your website (discover it’s content) and rank its authority. Do it well and you’ll climb the results pages.
Creating blogs on topics relevant to your business does two things:
Help build relevance so that you rank for more search queries
Build authority so you rank higher in search engines
Every time you create a new blog post and publish it on your site, you’re creating a new page for search engines like Google to index. This means one more opportunity to generate organic traffic to your website and signal to Google that your site is active, holds value for your audience and displays subject expertise.
Blogging also works well for your social media strategy. People will naturally share great content which can help improve your SEO ranking, not to mention expose your business to a new audience who may not know you.
Blogging tactics to immediately improve your SEO.
Three blogging tactics that have led to large SEO improvements for some of our clients are building topical relevance, optimising featured snippets and historical optimisation.
1. Building topical relevance.
This is probably the most important evolution in search marketing over the past few years. It signals the shift from keywords to topics.
People are far more comfortable with entering complex search queries than they used to be. 5 years ago, someone may have searched for ‘restaurants in West London’. Now, they’re more likely to enter a query such as: “where are the best places to eat near me?”. People now pose more complex questions but expect even more accurate results. This has led to search engines evolving over time to ensure they can present the best results.
By linking queries to similar searches they’ve had in the past, search engines are able to understand the topical context behind the text and can link it to similar searches they’ve encountered in the past.
"Building topical relevance means creating content across topics, not just keywords."
Keywords are one word, or key phrases that someone uses to describe what they need from a search. Whereas topics are groups of keywords.
To build topical relevance you must decide which topics you want to be known for, publish lots of content (blogs, video, etc) that answer every question your target audience might have about that topic and then link these blog posts to one another using hyperlinks and pillar pages.
This will help you grow authority on the topic and rank higher in search engines for related search queries.
Let’s say you’re launching a new product and you want to build up some SEO juice on the topic before your product is launched.
Here’s how you would build up related content to improve your search rankings pre-launch:
Identify the topic you want to be known for (related to your new product)
Build a product page for your new product
Write a long-form piece of content and put it on a pillar page
Break down the target topic into questions/queries
Turn each query into a blog post and link them back to the pillar page
In doing this you are building search authority for the pillar page, the product page, and building topic authority which raises awareness of your company and its new product.
You should aim to make each piece of content you create as shareable as possible. Make it attractive for your readers to share and expose your company to new audiences. To set your content up to be shared, you can use linkable ‘hooks’, including; original charts and images, unique data and research, quotes, interviews with industry experts, tables and list.
The next step in your process should be to prepare your outreach strategy. An outreach strategy is a plan of how you’re going to proactively share your content to get it seen. To do this you should identify the blogs, communities, groups, and influencers relevant to your topic and reach out to them using link building tactics.
It’s easier to build backlinks with companies tangentially related to yours and not direct competitors. So you have some room to be creative here. After a few months, with some persistence and good relationship-building techniques, you should be ranking higher than before which will have a positive impact on your site’s traffic and lead generation.
Remember, to make SEO work for your business, you need to move past short-term thinking and toward a longer-term strategy based on gathering as much topic authority as you can. The best way to do this is by building links back to your site. To do this, you need some relationships with people in the right place.
2. Optimising featured snippets.
Google is constantly striving to get better at filling its user’s needs and satisfying search intent. Today, you see this in action in the form of featured snippets. A featured snippet provides a summarised answer to a search query which is displayed at the top of a search results page including the page title and URL.
It can appear in the form of a paragraph, list or table. By providing an immediate answer to questions, searchers don’t even have to scroll through the search results page, let alone the web page itself.
Featured snippets are usually taken from one of the top 5 results on page 1 and appear before the #1 spot. This poses an opportunity for you to rank first for your core topic even if your page is currently in the fourth or fifth position.
Why should you care about optimising for featured snippets?
Featured snippets show up for a lot of the terms your target customers are searching for.
They’re often high-traffic terms on overarching topics. If you can be #1 for that topic, you’ll pull in plenty of traffic.
Featured snippets also often show up first for voice search results. In fact, 71% of search queries that had featured snippets on desktop led to the featured snippet result showing up first in voice search results.
Featured snippets also take a large share of mobile traffic.
To get started with featured snippet optimisation, you should optimise for content that’s already ranking on page one of the SERPs. This is the low-hanging fruit.
You can use Google search console to find your blog posts that currently rank on page one and estimate which keywords they’re ranking for. Open up an incognito window and see if a featured snippet appears in search results for those keywords. Put a tick next to the ones that do - if not - Google is always adding more snippets so it’s worth checking back in the future.
How do you optimise for featured snippets?
Format is the most important factor. The information must be clear, concise and accurate. Otherwise, you risk confusing Google and the crawlers will simply skip past your content.
If you need a list - put it at the top of your blog post and add a heading to make it easy for Google to identify. Do the same for paragraph snippets, put the short summary you want to appear in the featured snippets at the top of the blog post. Google prefers when featured snippets are around 50 words.
You should also make a note of what’s winning the snippet at the moment and try to improve it. Once you’ve made the changes, resubmit the URLs to Google so they can be recrawled. Measure the results of your snippet from the impact on the post’s organic traffic and the click-through rate.
Optimising for featured snippets best practise:
Clean formatting of headers will improve your chance of winning list-based featured snippets. We suggest using headers as follows: H1 for the overall page title, H2 for sub-headers & snippet titles, H3 for list items/paragraphs - the content of the snippet.
Google struggles to identify numbers in a list that begin with parentheses, so use dots instead. E.g. “1.”, not “1)”.
Featured snippets show up more than twice as much as they did a year ago so it is becoming a vital part of SEO strategies.
3. Why is historical optimisation a leading SEO strategy?
Making a few targeted changes to blog posts that you’ve already written can dramatically improve your rank in SERPs.
Optimising old posts is one of the most efficient ways of improving the performance of your blog page. It works best for blogs that have already been around for several years, not just a few months. If your blog has only been around for a year, it’s best to focus on other tactics to boost performance.
What is historical optimisation?
Historical optimisation means keeping your old blog posts fresh, up to date and showing up in search results.
If you have a blog post which is 2 years old and think it has page 1 potential, but currently sits on page 3 and still generates traffic, it’s worth putting in some effort.
Page 1 gets 95% of clicks, pages 2 and 3 only get 5% of clicks.
The benefits of historical optimisation for SEO:
Google rewards content freshness and so do searchers
You are building on top of the existing search authority the post ha
A surge of new visits will naturally lead to new links and social share
Historical optimisation is a valuable SEO strategy because it takes less time and resource to perform updates than it does to create new content.
How to get started:
Identify blog posts worth updating. They’re outdated and could be improved. They should also have the potential to rank higher for topics and keywords with high search volume. Prioritise blogs on topics that get at least 1,000 monthly searches and are at least 6-12 months old.
Update the content of the blog post to achieve 3 goals: accuracy, freshness and comprehensiveness. You can add new sections to make it more comprehensive, add extra detail, add list items, update outdated information like stats and examples, or optimise for featured snippets.
Optimise the post for your target topic using on-page SEO tactics like; using your target keyword in the page title, including your keyword in headers, linking to other articles on your site to improve ranking for other posts
Consider adding an editor’s note at the bottom of the post to make light of the updates - you don’t want to confuse your audience, and it shows that you care about providing relevant content.
Post, share, promote. Do the rounds again. If the blog is one year old and you’ve made lots of changes, it’s like a new piece of content altogether.
Historical optimisation gets way more value from content that you’ve published in the past. The time you put in one year ago will become a better investment over time if you continue to make small tweaks.