Every day people ask me, “how can I rank my website for a specific keyword?”. I don't have a single specific answer that will accomplish this for them. There is no single item you can do that will instantly rank your website for a certain keyword. There are, however, a set of things you can do that will help make your website rank higher for the topic you are focused on sharing.
If you are serious about truly improving the SEO on your website, and making sure your blog or business is successful – the tips below are the base for that success.
Can I Rank My Website for a Specific Keyword?
Yes! Truly anyone with any topic can rank their website for a specific keyword. That, however, does not mean that it is simple, easy, or that there is a fast track method of making it happen. This post and none out there is going to give you a simple trick or hack to raise your rankings above everyone else.
Don't let those words frighten you or discourage you from working toward this goal. I just don't want anyone to come here thinking they are about to read some magical “get ranked fast” plan that is unrealistic.
There is no doubt that you can rank, and rank high, easily, but more often than not, you will have to put extra work into your website to make this happen. I have seen my own blog posts and websites begin ranking within days, but I have also seen posts I thought would skyrocket sit dead no matter how hard I worked.
So, as I help you learn more about the world of SEO and what it will mean to your online business, I want to always preface things by saying – there is no fast or easy method of becoming successful overnight. It will take work.
Begin with Understanding What SEO Means
SEO, search engine optimization, keyword phrase, long-tail keywords – these are the terms I hear and read every day. Why are these so important to us as business owners, website creators, and bloggers?
Since the invention of the world wide web, the question being asked has often been about what the term SEO means, and why it is so important. To use the internet, there had to be a way to bring together the best answers to our questions. That, in itself, is the basis of the term SEO and what it means to you, the website owner.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engines are web pages like Google, that we go to and enter a phrase to find an answer to our questions or needs. To optimize that, so our websites or blogs show up in the first or early pages of results Google shows, we must utilize good SEO practices.
Over the years, Google, and all search engines have developed algorithms that help crawl all web pages for data to help give us the best results for the questions we, and everyone else, ask when searching the “web”. As a result, we, as business owners, must adapt and learn how to rank our websites by following the current trends and requirements of the Google algorithm.
Search Engine Optimization is simply a way to make sure the content on our websites is being seen by the search engines.
What are the Best SEO practices?
While I have already talked at length about ways to Improve SEO, there is always going to be something new or different in regards to the latest best practices. In fact, in August 2019, Google released an update regarding its core algorithm changes. This showed us many of the same things I have also mentioned.
The best practices are not necessarily about research for a keyword or writing in specific styles (although those steps help). They are, instead, about making sure your website content is the best option available about a topic.
When I first began blogging 10+ years ago, it was a different world. Then, through the years, I saw different practices that I thought were what was best for SEO. It wasn't until the last 5 years when I really began studying that I truly realized that no matter how perfectly a post is written, or how many “green lights” in the Yoast plugin you have, if it isn't comprehensive about the topic, it's not going to become the #1 result on Google.
Be realistic about your expectations
I have learned over the years, that there are many points that must be covered to be able to rank my website for any keyword. It's not just about picking a word and stating to the universe that I should rank. There is a set of steps and practices that make this happen.
Being realistic about that from the start is such a necessity. Working online or from home is not a get rich quick scheme. There will always be work involved. Passive income happens, but it takes work to start.
Sure, we see millionaires boasting about how they only spend 5 hours a week working, but the truth is those stories are rare and almost always happen because of a fluke.
Real online or work from home success takes WORK.
For SEO and keyword ranking, you must understand what it takes to be seen by Google, and set your goals realistically. Below I will talk more about what you can do to go after the competition, but first, understand where to place your goals.
Don't immediately go for the big dogs
What does this mean? It's simple. Do not allow yourself to think you can outrank the originator of an idea, giant corporations, celebrities, or those who have millions of dollars backing their advertising methods. It just won't happen, or if it does, it's going to only happen after a lot of hard work first.
Examples to consider:
- Your travel blog won't outrank TripAdvisor or Travelocity for generic terms like travel tips, vacation destinations, etc.
- A food blog won't outrank AllRecipes or Food Network for basic classic recipes like your best meatloaf or mashed potatoes.
- Websites about Disneyland vacations will not outrank the actual Disneyland website.
- Christmas websites won't outrank the Elf on the Shelf website for just the term Elf on the Shelf.
Instead, focus on subjects those sites are not covering
Using the examples above, consider the subjects that your biggest competition isn't covering. Yes, you can still have a successful travel site, food blog, Disney focused website or even a Christmas website. You just have to begin with a different focus than simply outranking the top dog in your niche.
Instead of trying to write just about generic travel guides, you would focus on a unique topic like travel packing tips, a China travel guide, or similar. The goal is to narrow down the focus to something that still has been searched, but lower competition.
In the beginning, you want to make sure you are focusing on realistic keywords to build authority in the niche. Once that is established, you can work toward those higher competition keyword phrases.
Know Your Niche
No matter how you pronounce niche – it is a vital part of your success. Knowing and understanding what your website and business focus actually are will be the first thing you need to determine when you follow our tips for how to start a blog.
The first and most important part of beginning a real focus on getting your website to rank for a keyword is to determine what your core focus is all about. Determining your niche is a must for long-term success. Without this, you won't be able to determine your core audience. Without audience knowledge, you'll never be able to truly answer the questions that will bring them to your website.
A niche is the core focus of your blog
If you just aren't sure how to figure out what to do in regards to your niche, Sadie shared a lot about discovering your niche in her post about how to name your blog. Her entire post is excellent, but her thoughts on choosing the niche are fantastic.
So now that you know what the word niche means, you have to figure out what YOUR niche actually is on your website. A niche doesn't have to be super narrow, but it does need to stay within the same topic range.
What do we mean by narrowing down the niche?
We have one student and friend in the blogging world that has after years of blogging, finally had this concept click for her recently.
While she had a “lifestyle” blog that contained recipes, crafts, travel, family fun, and even health topics – it just never could get past the hurdle of a certain level of page views. Recently, I worked with her to create a longterm goal for her business. During that process, she finally had the tips click and make sense. In the last month, she has begun following my advice for dividing her current core website into three websites that could become more authoritative in their unique niche.
Having multiple blogs sounded daunting, but the act of just moving a few hundred posts to one domain from another – separated what was a jumble of niches into a few specific audiences. The result? One of the updated sites was already up 6,000+ page views in just a few weeks!
While she already owned all three domains, and all had some content on them, moving the appropriate topics to the appropriate sites did make a nice difference. She is well on her way to meeting her pageview goals which will then turn into her monetary goals.
Angela now owns Inspiration Edit with a family life focus, Days in Bed with a chronic illness focus, and she is working toward creating a recipe only blog that will have all of her amazing food content.
How does a focused niche actually help?
Google's core algorithm looks for content that is the most relevant to a search. Their way of determining that is by crawling your entire website for related content and looking to see if you are being linked to or linking out to other websites that are topical. When you are seen to know a lot about a specific topic, then they feel they can trust that your post or website will answer the search.
Think of it this way: If you are going shopping and need gluten-free foods for your pantry, where do you think you will find those more readily? A store that is just for gluten-free foods, or your regular grocery store with tons of different food types?
The question is obvious! You would go to the store that has only what you need. The same mindset applies to online resources. Why would someone trust a site that has a little bit about several topics, rather than a whole lot about one topic?
Do the Keyword Research
While I don't believe everything stems from the exact keyword phrase, I do know that having a good idea of what is being searched for helps tremendously when you begin writing or marketing your website.
I covered a lot about my tips for keyword research in the post about how to improve SEO. So, I won't go into too much detail here. I know you can reference that post for better ideas of the formating and research aspect of SEO.
I am, however, going to tell you that keyword research plays a big part in how well your website as a whole will be seen by Google. Often times, we think that a certain subject or question should be popular, but it isn't actually being searched.
What does keyword research do?
A good example is for this actual post. When I began this post, Sadie had added the idea under the term “how to rank for a keyword”. This sounded perfect, but I did go looking in some of my favorite tools (these are affiliate links: Semrush and KWFinder) to see if it had a lot of competition. I was actually surprised to see that while it didn't have much competition, it also wasn't being searched a lot. Instead, the term, “rank my website” was being searched – a lot.
This information helped me to know my post title would need to be reworded a bit to help reach more people to answer their questions. I am still giving identical information that I would with the original title, but now it includes a much more commonly searched term. That means I am more likely to have higher traffic to this post.
Take the time to do some keyword research for your website and your individual blog posts. Even just a minor tweak can make a huge difference in the impact your content will have on readers.
Stay Current With Trends
Trends in the industry vary greatly year to year, but sometimes even one day to the next. There are so many changing cogs in the wheel that truly nobody can have all of the most up to date information about everything in the online blogging industry. We try hard to stay on top of things, but it is just impossible.
That said – there is no reason why you will ever think you “know it all” or are the ultimate “expert” on any topic. Why? Because every moment we are working from home, something new is happening somewhere.
Don't get complacent. Changes happen daily, and you must be aware of them to stay on top of your rankings.
Read Google updates and follow Google experts
This goes back to my notes above about the Google core changes. It's so vital to stay aware of when and how things change in the industry. When Google realizes there is a better way to measure relevance, they will make that change in their algorithm. This is so crawlers respond to searches with the best answers.
One of the most common things I see in blogging groups is that after a Google core update, people see popular posts lose ranking. They freak out and think something needs to change on their site, or that they are doing something wrong.
This is a yes and no situation. Yes, they lost ranking because something needed changing on their site. No, they didn't always do something wrong.
Most often, when you lose ranking on Google, it is because someone else has better content to answer the search query. This means you need to add more value and relevance. It does not necessarily mean you are doing something “wrong”.
You cannot expect to always be the best answer out there. People learn, grow, and change. So do the websites they create and run. Your Instant Pot recipe may have been the best yesterday, but tonight I may tweak that recipe and it becomes better than yours. This doesn't mean you did wrong, it just means I did better.
Strive to do better – always.
How do I rank my website with social media?
Social media changes daily. Pinterest and Facebook, while my favorite channels to use, are extremely fickle. What works one day, can totally bomb the next morning. I always have to be reading, learning, watching, and listening to others.
But, why is social media even important? Because even though social media isn't the biggest part of the SEO game, it is a large part that is vital.
Google looks not just at your actual website, but all things associated with your website to find your value. When their crawlers hit your site, they are going to look for what websites are posting links back to you. This includes not just the websites out there, but social media channels.
It's not just about growing your own social media channels, but about having other valued authorities in your niche share your content to their social media pages.
Even if you do not like a social media platform, or even fully understand it, you should have a channel for your business. I have, personally, never enjoyed using Pinterest personally. In the past, my food blog had at least 35%-40% of its traffic from Pinterest referrals. Even though I didn't enjoy it, others do, so I had to embrace and use it.
The point is – don't feel like just because you ranked #1 finally that means you will always be #1. It takes constant ongoing work to maintain that success.
Acknowledge and Learn From Competition
This flows right from the last point. You have to stay on top of current trends in the industry so you will continue ranking, but when you lose ranking, you should pay attention.
Always look at what others are offering, and learn from them. This happens not only from the beginning of the process when you first try to rank for something, but also if you are ranking and lose that ranking down the road.
Look at the competition before you post on a topic
One of the first things I do when I want to rank my website for a keyword is to do a quick Google search for that word or phrase. I look at what the competition is actually offering already. The goal is to see what they are saying and offering, and how I can improve upon that.
I am also humble enough to know that there are some things I may need to wait to post about because I don't know enough to share more than the current ranking person does.
How do I know when to avoid a topic?
For me, a good example of this would be that I do not know a lot about monetizing a website outside of basic ad revenue and Amazon affiliates. So, while I have a general understanding and experience with monetizing a blog, I am not an expert.
Sadie, however, is truly an expert on how to make that happen. Her first post about it here is all about turning blog readers into buyers. This is something I don't know enough about to feel I can rank for the topic, but I do believe she does.
If I see that the competition knows a lot more than I do, and has a unique understanding of the topic than I do, then I will know I may not rank for it for some time. Sometimes, this means I shelve the idea until later when I can provide the best for my reader. Other times, I will change how I post to show I am a beginner, and then add more as I learn.
I accept I won't rank right away, but can down the road with work and more education.
Look for the differences in your post and theirs
The same thing applies to when I find I have lost rank on my blog for a specific keyword phrase. I will look at the new higher ranking option, and find out why they have passed me up, and why Google thinks their post is better than mine.
- Are their points on topic and up to date?
- Did they include an upgrade such as a printable option, free product, or a link to a relevant paid product?
- Do they have multiple images on the post that are relevant and eye-catching?
- Is there a video within the post – original or link to a relevant Youtube video?
- Who is linking out to their post?
- Are they linking to other authoritative posts?
- Is their post over 1,000 words and easy to read?
All of these questions lead to our next step and what is the real core of how to rank a website for a specific keyword or topic.
I Can Rank My Website When I Up My Game
You truly can. There is no reason why you can't actually rank for that topic. This is where we go back to the first thing I told you.
Ranking for a keyword takes work from you to happen.
Whether you are writing a post for the first time, or you are working to gain ranking on a post you've had on your website for a long time, the same things apply.
Below are some of the key things I have seen to help a blog post or website as a whole go from not seen to being seen by Google and even shown on the first page of search results.
Add video content to your blog post
Over the last 2-3 years, adding video content to your blog posts has become a trend that is making a huge difference in ranking. That visual addition to many subjects really does help people choose your post over another option.
This doesn't apply to every website or blog post that is written, but there are many instances when a video is just what you need. Add value to your post by creating or even linking to a video about your topic.
Recipe and food blogs are always elevated by a quality video tutorial. The same applies to craft or even DIY blogs. Those in the travel industry find that videos of destinations often get more click-throughs than a simple text list.
The addition of video is worth your time in almost all niche categories.
How-to, industry sites, blogging tutorials, and yes, SEO posts, all benefit from screenshot videos with tutorials, or even the person behind the camera/post telling you a paraphrase of the longer post on the page.
Add free resources about the topic
One of the most appealing things to me when I am looking for information is when I can grab it and print to read later. Or, in some instances, when I know there is a free upgrade that I can get access to by signing up for an email.
Some of my favorite SEO websites hooked me because I read a post, then signed up to receive an email course that was sent to me over the course of the following few days for free.
Don't give everything away for free – but don't hesitate to include something that is a good resource and applicable to the topic.
Include paid product options
The next option is the upgrade. The paid product.
Not every post or website will have paid products, but there are many ways you can add value to your website by including further paid options. Consider how you can add some value to your site by including a small or even large paid product.
- A how-to or business website often includes a paid ebook or course.
- Recipe and food blogs can include a PDF cookbook or even a hard copy of a printed cookbook via an Amazon self-publishing option.
- Parenting blogs are great for fun t-shirts, ebooks on parenting, and even paid PDF files of chore lists. Think outside the box to create household binder charts or similar items.
- Travel blogs can provide printed coloring books about destinations. They can also create travel guidebooks, and yes, even t-shirts, mugs, or beer koozies.
- A blog about pets is a perfect place to include your own pet product. You can design custom dog shirts, printed collars, or pet ID tags.
Don't forget promotions
Promotions to me are not just about paid advertising. Yes, that has its benefits at times, and I will share more about that in the future – but for this, it is about sharing those posts on all possible platforms.
Sadie covers how to get more traffic to new blogs, but this is a short list of things you should be doing to help rank your website for a keyword.
- Create Pinterest images in Canva and share it on your boards, Tribes, and setup on Tailwind to reshare later.
- Share the latest blog posts to your business/blog Facebook page with an appropriate image or video and link back to the post.
- Tweet with hashtags that are applicable to the topic.
- Share an image to Instagram with great hashtags and an appropriate caption that leads back to your website. This forum is best for visual topics like fashion, travel, food, makeup, and crafting. It also works well for some fitness and health topics.
- Join Facebook groups about your topic and share new posts according to the group rules. Don't be a spammer. Interact in groups and follow rules before you do this.
- Share the post on your personal social media profiles when applicable to your friend's list.
- Send out a notice about the new post to your email newsletter list the same day, or once a week with other posts that are new or related to your email topic.
- Ask others in your industry if they will share or even link back to your new post, if and only if, it is relevant, useful, and applicable to their audience. Don't pay for this, but create a network of friends in the industry who are happy to help each other build and grow.
Never Stop Working For That Ranking
One of the most important things to remember is that you can't ever stop working for that ranking on Google. When you reach #1, that isn't the end of the process.
As a business owner and/or blog owner, you must remember that your job never ends. You will continually be growing and learning about the business, and your niche. That's part of why you will always have to work for your rankings.
Every time Google updates its core algorithm, you will see changes happen. This is why I think it is important to never neglect your content.
- Regularly check to make sure your content is up to date for current trends or information.
- Update images and videos for aesthetics as changes in the industry happen. Many of us more seasoned bloggers know that you often need to add new Pinterest images to create new and more viewers.
- Reference other new or updated posts on your site within ranking posts on a regular basis.
- Continue sharing on all social media, in groups, and even in email as appropriate.
- Regularly ask trusted professionals in your network to evaluate your posts and make suggestions on how you can improve them.