What does it take to rank #1 in Google for a set of competitive keywords? In this article, I’ll lay out the exact methodology you can use to dominate many niches in the search engine rankings. SEO is a billion dollar industry and many online businesses live and die by organic search. It’s time you claim your piece of the pie.
Some industries are going to be more difficult to rank for than others and you’re always going to have to think creatively to get an edge over the other players in your field. However, the steps I outline below will help put you on the right track and give you a general plan of action. Read through it and diligently execute. I guarantee that in 6 months you’ll already be ahead of 90% of your competition.
So without further adieu, here’s your game plan to complete search engine domination.
1. Choose a niche – what do you like?
Many marketers run to the money in lucrative (and extremely competitive) industries like insurance, education, and finance. If you think you have what it takes to come out on top then by all means go for it. Otherwise it might be a good idea to narrow your focus and concentrate on an under-served market. There is plenty of money to be made in every legitimate niche imaginable. Just put in the hard work, sweat, and tears necessary for success into your project and you’ll reap the benefits of your labor 6 months down the line. Delayed gratification my friends… It’s just a matter of having direction, drive, and a little patience.
So with that said, some of the questions I ask myself when choosing a topic or niche include:
- Am I passionate about it?
- Do I know enough about it?
- Is it worth my time and effort? (monetary and personal satisfaction)
- What can I do differently that will give me a competitive edge?
Example: In this article, we’ll use basket weaving as an example. I don’t care much for the topic but I think it’s a good industry to use to get my points across.
2. Keyword research – keywords are everything
In SEO, keyword research is probably the one thing you cannot afford to mess up. Your sites can rank #1 in Google for terms that you think are best, but if no one is actually using them in their search queries you’re out of luck.
Make sure you don’t skimp out on this crucial step. Invest in the best keyword research tools available and spend time to learn the language of your potential customers.
I recommend scoping out competitor sites, reading industry blogs and forums, and scanning trade magazines for additional keyword ideas. You can never do enough research especially if you plan on domination.
Some of the keyword tools I use for SEO include Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, Wordze, and the MSN Keyword Intelligence plugin for Excel 2007. Search for your top keywords using your tool of choice to determine which have the highest search frequency – taking into consideration variations and plural/singular forms.
Example: For our basket weaving example, we first need to learn more about the field to understand what people are searching for in the engines. A quick look at the basket weaving Wikipedia page gives us a plethora of useful information to get us started. For example, we now know that basket weaving is also called “basket making”, “basketry”, and “basketmaking”. We also know the different types of basketry including coiled, plaiting, twining, wicker, and splint. There’s Native American basket weaving, Indian, yada yada yada. You get the point.
After all of this research, we now have the background information necessary to create a core keyword list:
- basket weaving
- basket weaver
- basket weavers
- basket making
Which of these do we use to optimize our site?
Pop all of the selected keywords into a tool like Keyword Discovery and determine the relative search frequencies for each.
- basket weaving – 1474
- basket making – 466
- basketry – 452
- basket weavers – 82
- basketmaking – 67
- basket weaver – 32
- basketweavers – 25
- basketweaver – 5
- basetweaving – 0
Ok great. So from that simple analysis it’s clear that “basket weaving” is by far the best keyword to optimize for. There are other factors to take into consideration when selecting keywords including the level of competition, regional language preferences, current keyword referrals, and site focus/purpose. For the sake of space and time we won’t go into those here but just know that there’s more to keyword selection than relative search frequency.
So there you have it. We have our main keyword: “basket weaving”.
3. Buy a domain – do it right the first time
Buying a domain name is kind of like getting a tattoo. It’s permanent and you can’t change it later on without leaving scars and going through a painful process. A domain name is the foundation of your site and will greatly affect whether or not you will see success in the search engine rankings.