How to Get Ranked for All Your Niche’s Keywords

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Not long ago, it was possible (and easy) to get nearly any page ranked for nearly any keyword by throwing enough exact-match anchor text backlinks at it. Starting with Panda 3.3 and continuing with Panda 3.4 and Google Penguin, that “Golden Age” of SEO has disappeared, and new-age SEO link building has changed dramatically as a result.

But regardless of what era of SEO we find ourselves in, businesses have the same needs: to achieve top rankings for relevant keywords in the search engines in order to drive targeted website traffic and sales. Before Panda 3.3, the process of getting ranked for all your niche’s keywords looked something like this:

Old-Style SEO

Of course, this process no longer works. Low-quality backlinks now appear to pass negative value, which is apparently amplified when they use exact-match anchor text.

So, in this post-Penguin era of SEO, how do businesses achieve rankings for each of their target keywords? First, let’s take a look at an example. is a lyrics website where users can read and write rap lyrics translated into “proper” English. I’ve identified 27 keywords for which it should be extremely relevant in Google and Bing, yet it currently ranks on the first page of search results for two of those keywords: “rap lyrics translated,” “translate rap lyrics,” and “translated rap lyrics.”

So, why doesn’t it rank even in the top 100 (in Google or Bing) for terms like “rap songs translated,” “rap translations,” or “rap lyrics translation?” The website is completely relevant for all of those keywords. How do we get Google to recognize our relevance for each of the other keywords as well?

Many businesses are faced with this same question. Is it even possible, post-Penguin? Maybe. If so, I have some ideas for how I’d do it.

Below, I’ve outlined six steps I’d take for ranking my business in Google for every identified keyword in my niche.

Step 1: Keyword Research

Before you can get to work getting ranked for all of your niche’s keywords, you need to identify them. Start by gathering a list of keywords from Google’s Keyword Tool. For a detailed guide on how to perform keyword research with Google’s keyword tool, check this out.

Filter out as many unrelated or loosely related terms as possible. The more targeted and concise your list of keywords, the less work you’ll have to do to get ranked for each of them. I recommend not more than 30 keywords.

Step 2: Analyze Your Existing Rankings

Once you’ve got your list of keywords for which you want to rank, the next step is to find out how your website currently ranks for each one. There are various rank checking tools for this, but my favorite is MySEOTool. If you’re a Firefox user and you want a quick and free solution, try SEOBook’s Rank Checker plugin for FireFox.

Using either tool, you’ll be able to see if you have any existing pages ranking for any of your identified terms, and if so, exactly what ranking page was found. This is important because it’ll provide insight as to which existing pages on your website are currently considered most relevant for each term.

If there are keywords for which your website is not currently ranking, then there’s another way to find which page on your website is considered to have the highest relevance: a “site:” search.

For example, if I want to found out which page on has the highest relevance for the term “pinterest marketing,” I would perform the following search in Google: “pinterest marketing”

This query would yield results only from the domain, in order of Google’s perception of most relevant pages for that term. If I wanted to improve my rankings for the term “pinterest marketing,” I’d want to target my efforts around the page that was the #1 ranking result for the “site:” query.

Rank Checker

In the example above, which was generated using the SEOBook Firefox Rank Checker plugin, you’ll see that there were no internal pages identified with relevance for any of the targeted keywords; the homepage is the only ranking page. This is to be expected, since all of the internal pages on the domain consist of individual translated rap songs (i.e. I’d expect them to rank for variations of the artist name and song title, but not for the generic variations of “rap lyrics translated”).

Step 3: Group Your Keywords

The next step is to put your keywords into several closely related groups. Try to group keywords that contain all the same words but in a different order, singulars with plurals, and keywords that are only one word apart. For example, here’s how I’d group the keywords from the above example:

Group 1: translated rap lyrics, translate rap lyrics, rap lyrics translation, rap lyrics translated

Group 2: translate rap songs, rap songs translated, rap song translation

Group 3: rap translator, rap translations, rap translation, hip hop translation

Group 4: rap lyrics meaning, rap lyrics explained

Step 4: Assign Each Keyword Group to a Specific URL on Your Website

After grouping your keywords, select a primary keyword for each group. Generally, I go with the one that has the highest search volume (which you can determine using Google’s Keyword Tool). However, in some cases, it might be more beneficial to go with a term that you intuitively feel will convert at the highest rate.

After selecting a primary keyword within each group, it’s time to assign each keyword group to a specific URL on your website. Use the information you have about what pages on your website are currently ranking for each keyword to help you with this process.

If you don’t currently have any pages on your website that are super relevant for any of your groups of keywords, then you’re going to need to create some new pages. But don’t just create a page for the sake of creating a page – in order to have any success, it needs to be super high quality, extremely valuable, original content.

Make a note of which URL you’re assigning to each keyword group on your page, along with which term you’ve selected from each group to be the primary keyword.

Step 5: Perform On-site SEO for Each Assigned URL

Follow basic on-site SEO best practices to optimize each URL assigned to your keyword groups. Within the title tags and h1 tags of each page, use the primary keyword that you identified in the previous step. If possible, use your secondary terms in the meta description tag of each page. Within the body content of the page, use each of your secondary keywords at least once. Think about how you can use them naturally and without sounding forced or unnatural.

After your on-page elements are optimized, it’s time to build strategic internal links. When you link from one internal page to another on your own domain, that’s called internal linking, and it’s an important factor in the ranking algorithms (though nothing is more important than external link building, which I’ll cover here in just a minute).

With internal linking, you have more flexibility and control with regard to the anchor text that you use in your links. Start by combing through your own website and identifying opportunities to link to your own target pages. Vary your anchor text with variations of your primary and secondary keywords, along with other text that makes sense and is appropriate without feeling forced or unnatural.

Step 6: Build Links to Your Pages

After your on-site SEO is all spiffed up for your target pages, it’s time to build links. Link building is the most difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating part of SEO, but that’s why it’s also the most heavily weighted part of the algorithm.

Prior to Google Penguin, link building was easy. The relevance of the content on the linking page didn’t play much of a role in the ranking algorithm; the anchor text of the link was vastly more important. Post Penguin link building is a whole new ballgame, and failing to play by the rules can land your site’s rankings in the bottomless chasm of Google’s sandbox.

Entire books are written about the art of proper link building, but for the purpose of this article I’ll discuss my favorite tactic: guest blog posting. While many forms of link building are considered against Google’s webmaster guidelines, guest blog posting is a high-quality, safe, and effective tactic that I highly recommend. According to this article at Search Engine Land, Google and Bing have specifically recommended guest blog posting:

“[Duane Forrester] suggested contacting an authority site in your space to see if they would publish a guest article that you write particularly for them. If the authority site finds your content valuable enough to publish, that’s a completely different situation from article hubs that allow anyone to publish anything.”

Take Duane’s advice and do as much guest blog posting as you can. You’ll gain valuable links, recognition, credibility, audience, and website traffic.

The first step in writing guest blog posts is to find potential publishers and authority websites in your niche. The easiest way to do this is to perform a search in Google for each of your identified keywords. Comb through the search results and identify websites ranking in the top 100 results that appear to be high-quality, with active readership, social channels, and frequent updates. These types of links are going to yield the greatest impact on your rankings and website traffic.

Before writing your guest blog posts, look at each of your keyword groups and think about an awesome article you could write that’s topically relevant for each one. In your articles, include relevant links to your target pages, while varying the anchor text. Exact-match anchor text, formerly the darling of the SEO industry (before Google Penguin), can now trigger a red flag which can get your site penalized. For every 10 guest blog posts you write, use exact-match anchor text only once. For a more in-depth guide on safe anchor text types to use for today’s post-Penguin world, see this post.

From a strategic standpoint, try to include one of your primary or secondary keywords in the title of the article, while keeping your content tightly relevant to that keyword group. The more closely related the link source and destination pages are, the more points you’ll score in the ranking algorithm.

If you’re in a competitive niche, you may need a lot of guest blog posts, combined with other link building tactics, social media marketing, and on-site content creation, in order to achieve rankings for each keyword in your niche. With enough time and enough effort, you’ll eventually find your website ranking for each keyword you’ve identified.

What about E-commerce websites?

If you run an e-commerce business, then follow the steps above, in addition to the following:

  • Properly arrange each of your products into corresponding categories, and set up category pages which highlight the best products within each category
  • If you have less than 10 categories, link to each category from your homepage. If you have more than 10, link to your top five or 10 categories in terms of profit margin
  • Ensure each product page has proper on-site SEO elements (you can use some of these handy Firefox SEO plugins to double-check), and encourage augmented content such as user reviews, comments, and editorial review or opinions
  • Enable easy social sharing via share buttons


There you have it, my step-by-step guide for exactly how I’d get a website ranked for every keyword in the niche. Have you successfully ranked your website for every keyword in your niche? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you did!

Jayson DeMers
Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or... Read Full Bio
Jayson DeMers
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  • Iain


    A quick addition to the e-commerce, perhaps. I find that a lot of people with e-commerce sites do a great job optimising their products and their non-commerce pages (about, history, etc.) many have thin or no content at the category and sub-category levels. Strong, unique content on those pages can be very effective.

    Good piece, I like it, clear and actionable.

  • Herman

    Hey jayson I just read your post and it’s written really well step by step but do you think these techniques will really work post panda and penguin infact google has just come out with another update penalizing Exact match domains, have you tried these techniques out recently. I would really like to know because if it works I will give it a try. Thanks

    • Jayson DeMers


      I haven’t tested this process; it’s simply based on theory. There have been so many changes to the algorithm lately that it’s difficult to test stuff.

  • Pankaj Gupta

    Thanks for the information but I don’t think there is anything new which needs to be done. This was the best strategy till last year to get website ranked but I don’t think it will work any more. With the latest EMD update, existing webmasters will be worried about their websites . Also, I think Google will be keeping an eye on this guest post marketing and may be the next update will be for that and again website owners will get penalized for allowing guest posts on the site.

    • Jayson DeMers

      Pankaj, the EMD update only affects webmasters with exact-match domains. Those domains are generally pretty spammy and most should be penalized anyway.

      Regarding Google keeping an eye on guest blogging, they have specifically stated it’s okay; I quoted them in the article.

      • stew

        I totally agree… a new day has come at .02% lol

  • Felipe Esteves

    Great article Jayson, nice tip about choosing specific keywords in different theme groups. Thanks.

  • Justin Howley

    In theory, this is a good strategy to build links. The only issue is if you’re looking for websites for a particular niche, and want to write a blog post about that niche, what makes the website you’re targeting think you’re an expert about that topic if they already provide content about that subject matter? Plus they’re siphoning traffic to a site thats offering up similar info. This is the most difficult aspect of guest blogging. Getting site owners to buy-into your content enough that they are comfortable sending you link juice and traffic.

    • Jayson DeMers

      Hi Justin,

      I don’t think it’s as hard as you think 😉

      My very first post at SEJ was a guest post. I came here and proved my worth to SEJ, so they hooked me up with an author account. If you’re an expert in your niche, just ask and ye shall receive!

  • Jamie Hibbert

    This rests uneasily with me too. I really think you are going to have to look at a far bigger picture. The use of social signals and the talk about Author Rank are going to be far more impactive over the next two years than anything else, at least in my opinion.

    You really need to focus more than ever or high quality original content and then work those social streams like never before…

    I think there is still a place for guest posting, lets face it, it is makes good sense from a marketers point of view and gets the word out there.

    • Jayson DeMers


      I agree that author rank and social signals are increasing in importance. But let’s take a look at how many Tweets, Likes, and shares this post has. Hundreds, right? Those social signals are doing wonders for SEJ, and they are going to positively benefit any destination domains that this article links to as well.

      Not bad, right? Guest blogging covers all your bases.

  • Dave Hermansen

    Truly fantastic article Jayson, it was a pleasure to read!!

    The toughest thing for my students to wrap their minds around post-Penguin is “how” Google will rank their pages for their targeted phrases if they can’t frequently use the phrase in the incoming link’s anchor text. This article did an awesome job explaining that Google uses the relevancy of the linking page teamed with the on-page factors for the page it’s linking to.

    To add to your guest blogging suggestion, people should also reach out to websites that are ranking in their markets and request links. Sometimes you have to get creative, but you can usually get quite a few authorities in your market to link to you if you really try! I personally like to look up the backlinks the top 20 ranking websites have pointing to them and start there.

    You can also participate in authority forums within your market and eventually put a link in your signature with non-keyword targeted anchor text.

    Again, great read.. I really enjoyed it!!

    • Jayson DeMers

      Thanks for your feedback, Dave! I’m thrilled to know you enjoyed the post =)

  • Kes Phelps

    Exact match anchor text has been a no no since 2004

    • Jayson DeMers

      Actually, it worked extremely well up until February of 2012.

      • Kes Phelps

        Sorry, but that’s just not true. It’s well documented that people have run in to trouble when using too much exact match anchor text since 2003/2004. Same goes for over-on-site-optmisation.

        The penalties have just got harsher..

  • Nick Stamoulis

    It’s important that you don’t abuse guest blogging. There are probably hundreds of generic blogs that will accept any and all content but that doesn’t mean you should do it . You want to focus on blogs that deal with your niche or speak to your audience. And remember, your own blog is just as important as any guest post!

    • Jayson DeMers

      Agreed, Nick! Guest blogging isn’t the new way to do crappy link building. It’s an age-old method of link building that should be reserved for only high-quality posts.

  • Dhirendra

    Nice post Jayson.. Guest blogging is still working but again the content should be not spammy and it should be meaningful for users.I have triesdand its working.

  • jared

    I think the most important thing is the content and just mixing it up and including the keywords evenly.

  • Alex Mandossian

    That’s a well-organized step-by-step process you have here Jayson… I agree on your terms and i like the fact that you are applying a new way of performing SEO. But don’t forget that old process of doing SEO still works and is even more effective than the new approach today. Lat’s take for example the use of Free Online Marketing Tools. Blogging is one good example but with all the marketing strategies i used to optimize my website, i find Google+ Hangout as one of those that gave big benefits. It’s free and more interactive. I get to organize my shows and my videos are getting effective day by day. you should try it too. Google+ has more features and it’s a good way to do SEO there… Anyways, very good article!!! Keep going

  • leon

    Very informative article, My competitor has ranked for all the key words in the homepage it self. We are using similar concepts , there will be no much of content because whoever visits the site perform the task which requires no content. I had a plan of making 2 groups of keywords and rank accordingly in 2 different pages .

    Now the challenge is guest post’s. Finding webmaster who allow for guest posts.

  • BD Williams

    I just launched my first website a few weeks ago and find this process overwhelming. I seem to do alright at creating unique content but I don’t know enough about on page seo. When you referred to changing keywords in different pages, what do you mean? The text on the page, or meta tags? Could you elaborate on this a bit.

  • Pat Fortino

    Thanks. This is great info presented clearly. Gives me a lot to work on on my site.

  • Hemant

    Very nice article but you missed blog commenting. Is it safe post penguin or can be held for negative SEO

  • Fedobe

    Hi Jayson, Thanks for your post. Really, this is a great post over updated SEO process. I have already tried this process for one of my clients and got an excellent results. I hope this process will give you a great results too.

  • hoang vu

    dont know what you mean. Is it clear that we need to build back link carefully and quality as much as possible ?

  • brian cooper

    Really helpful ideas. You give good practical suggestions for some increasingly vexing challenges, link building in particular. Ironically,I especially like your handful of ecommerce pointers at the end. I am facing those issues exactly, more and more: building ecommerce nav that will be effective for buyers as well as search engines, for example. Definitely going to give these ideas a serious look.

  • Mark Excell

    I’m very lucky to come through the raft of Google changes without too many problems… In fact the EMD domain update has given some great benefits to my own site. This has been down to keeping on the side of white hat seo and not trying to seo for too many phrases across my entire site. For anyone serious about SEO I would still use wordpress (it seems to be the chicken soup of all internet related issues) and invest in a copy of IBP. The way it works means its simply Google slap proof… and immune to any animal they let loose….

    With regards to link building… There are some white hat product that will help, but you need to do it in a very controlled way…. If you are going to bend google to your will, you need to think in terms of slowly building links and in ways that do not produce patterns (building one a day in some respects is equally as bad as building 1000 a day, giving the right circumstances it will be spotted.)

    Negative SEO is a bit of an urban myth and detracts from the debate about the nature of White hat seo, the same is true for emd.

    Google is an information engine which attempts to match your query to the best page it know about. It gauges this by what’s on the page and the amount of people who vote for it. What Google is now doing it removing the influence it sees from ‘non’ valid sources. This is not the same as saying Google has penalised my site (which it will do for bad on-page seo, taking part in link farms and linking to bad neighbours), all Google is doing it removing all the unfair advantages a bad web master has introduced….

    As backlinks from sites and social signals get abused, Google will start to turn the thumb screws and simply only take value from linking sites which it is confident are ‘good’ sites…. If you want to stay ahead of the bell curve look to link to these sites….

  • Bhavna

    Hi Jayson,

    I’m practicing these steps from last two months but I couldn’t see relevant progress on SERPs. Apart from the following aforementioned steps, I’ve also guided my SEO team to start the social-bookmarking and other off-page activities. However, they are working vigorously, but by the time everything is same. Could you please throw some light on the traffic-increasing thing.


    Just now i was reading your post and you have written all clearly step by step. but what about the blogging and content? coz now content is king so we should work on content too right?

  • NickB

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been working on doing the “right thing” with my sites–lots of 100% original unique quality content, no blackhat techniques, and for some reason, almost a year in, I can’t seem to get a PR1 or much organic traffic. That being said, I do not have the backlinks built out hardly at all, and I am going to test your theory starting immediately.

  • Karl

    A great article that follows similar steps to what we do here. Assigning your keywords to the right page is such an important step that so many people miss. Also It should be noted that sometimes it’s not always easy to find a blog in your niche with a decent authority that you can guest post to, In this case you may need to look a bit broader, for example if you’re a plumber you might want to look at tradesmen, DIY or handyman blogs etc not just plumber specific blogs.

  • Kally

    Hi Jayson,

    Thanks so much for an in-depth, easy to understand post – I am pretty much a noob to SEO but I found this article to be a great guide with some excellent references in it. 🙂

    – Kally