Page one, position one.
It’s the ultimate goal of every SEO marketer.
But of course reaching this goal can be difficult, and there is a seemingly infinite number of variables that determine how your content ends up ranking.
And let’s not forget about Google’s fickleness.
Their unending updates can leave you scratching your head as to what your next move should be.
I know that I’ve found myself frustrated more than a few times.
But what if I told you that there was a specific formula you can follow to dominate any keyword you choose?
What if you could knock it out of the park every time and continually outrank your competitors?
Well, there is!
Not to sound like a sleazy used-car salesman or an obnoxious motivational speaker, but there’s definitely a recipe for crushing it with your keywords.
During the years, I’ve experimented with nearly everything under the sun and have come up with a surefire formula for dominating the SEO game by targeting the right keyword and tailoring your campaign to reach your audience.
Here’s how to do it step by step.
Target descriptive phrases
Your first order of business should be to go after long-tail keywords.
As you may already know, it’s extremely difficult to gain any traction by targeting broad phrases.
There’s just too much competition out there, and the top spots are usually filled by the usual suspects—big-name companies with deep pockets and massive brand equity.
But long-tail keywords level the playing field significantly. They’re what lets the little guys hang with the big boys.
I like to think of them as the low hanging fruit of SEO. A top spot in the SERPs is there for the taking.
My general rule for long-tail keywords is that they should be a minimum of four words.
This should ensure that you have a realistic chance of breaking through and at least getting on page one (if not in the top three spots).
Here’s a nice graph that illustrates long-tail SEO and keyword length:
Notice that the more words you include in your keyword phrase, the more your competition, cost, and risk shrink while your probability of making a conversion increases.
The best part is that there are plenty of long-tail keywords to choose from.
In fact, they account for roughly 70% of all keywords.
Here’s how the “search demand curve” breaks down overall:
And I know what you might be saying.
Hardly anyone will be searching for super specific keyword phrases. It’s going to negate the entire purpose of going this route if there’s a low volume of users who actually find my content.
But as I mentioned before in another article on Quick Sprout, “long-tails don’t have a lot of search volume. But you shouldn’t worry about this. You’re not going for high volume—you are going for focused intention.”
The trick here is to find a long-tail keyword phrase with minimal competition that still receives enough searches to justify you targeting it.
Let’s go back to the example of long-tail keyword SEO. You would be much better off targeting “red Nike mens running shoes” than “mens shoes.”
Finding low competition keywords
If you’re looking for a shortcut, there’s a simple one on Google’s Keyword Planner.
Here’s what you do:
Click on “Keyword filters” located on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
Then click on “Low,” and it will leave a checkmark indicating that you want all your results to have low competition. Then save.
Your results will be populated only by keyword phrases with low competition.
Note: Sometimes there may be pretty slim pickings for low competition keywords. In this case, you may want to also search for medium competition.
This will save you a lot of time from having to manually sift through the results to find something relevant.
If you’re using some other type of software, just look for a similar feature to streamline the keyword research process.
Ideally, you’ll find a keyword phrase that receives a reasonable number of searches but isn’t completely saturated with competition.
Understanding user intent
Intent is everything.
When creating content, it’s vital that you understand precisely what your audience is looking for and deliver the goods.
Let’s look at two slightly different keyword phrases as an example.
Phrase 1: buy red Nike mens running shoes
Phrase 2: red Nike mens running shoes review
Although both phrases are geared toward the same thing—red Nike men’s running shoes—the user is at two very different stages in the sales funnel.
People searching for the first phrase are further along the sales funnel and ready (or at least close to ready) to make a purchase.
In this case, it would probably make sense to incorporate a call to action (CTA) in your content.
However, people searching for the second phrase aren’t quite there yet and are looking for information to help them decide whether this is a product they actually want to buy.
In this case, you would simply want to provide them with the information they’re looking for and warm them up rather than straight up trying to make a sale.
For instance, you might want to point them to other resources on your site, get them to sign up for your newsletter so you can get them to buy later, etc.
Keep this in mind when creating your content because it will influence your approach and how quickly you go for the sale.
I think this graphic breaks down user intent quite well:
The bottom line is that Google’s mission is to provide users with content that best matches their intent.
If you’re able to do that effectively, you have a high probability of achieving a favorable ranking.
Create epic content
Okay, so you’ve selected long-tail keywords with a reasonable number of searches and minimal competition, and you have an understanding of what your audience is looking for.
The next step to dominating the search results is to create epic content that vastly exceeds anything that the competition is doing.
This is perhaps the most important step in the process and your ticket for getting the results you’re looking for.
In fact, I’ve based my entire marketing campaign on this concept.
And not to toot my own horn, but my ability to consistently create in-depth, insightful, and valuable content has been a large part of my success.
How exactly do I go about this?
Well, there are several things that make content stand out, but from my experience, you should focus on the following:
- Longform content – just over 2,450 words is the average length of content that ranks number one on Google.
- Use plenty of high-quality visuals for maximum aesthetic appeal
- Incorporate videos
- Sprinkle in data-driven charts and graphs
- Throw in external links to credible and relevant third-party publications
- Make it scannable (e.g., use short paragraphs, sub-headers, and bullet points)
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I don’t have time to fully launch into all the components that make for epic content here. But you can learn much more by checking out this other post I wrote.
I actually prefer to think of each piece of content I write as “an ultimate guide” instead of just another post.
Having this kind of mindset helps me ensure that I go above and beyond the status quo and increases the odds that my content gets shared, receives mass exposure, etc. so that it inevitably ranks highly.
Circulate your content
Let’s assume your post is in fact epic.
That’s great. But you can’t just sit back and wait for good things to happen.
You need to take action.
But what should you do?
For starters, you’ll want to post it on relevant social media accounts to generate some initial buzz.
If you’ve got a considerable number of followers, that right there should have a decent impact.
But what I really recommend is reaching out to influencers to see if they will link to your content.
If you can make this happen, the number of shares your content receives can skyrocket.
In fact, a study from OkDork and BuzzSumo found that “just having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8 percent more social shares.”
But look what happens as more influencers link to it. The number of shares continues to increase.
Getting five influencers to link to it could be considered the tipping point with a dramatic spike in the number of shares.
For more information on creating content that influencers will link to, just check out this post I wrote.
There is a wide array of factors that determine where content gets ranked. However, there is definitely a degree of predictability to the process.
When you use the formula I discussed, you should be able to target the right keywords that you have the best possible chance of competing for.
Then, by building your content around those keywords and following my recipe, you can surpass your primary competitors.
This ultimately translates into a great ranking within SERPs and plenty of highly targeted, organic traffic that’s likely to convert.