How I ranked Number 1 for SEO India Keyword

In this post I’m going to show you exactly how to rank #1 in Google.

In fact, this is exact process I used to rank #1 for the VERY competitive keyword: “SEO India”.

And today you’re going to see how I did it, step-by-step.

Let’s dive right in.

How I Outranked Big Brands (And Hit the #1 Spot in Google for “SEO India”)
I recently published a post on my blog called “Ranking on top of Google in 2019”.

Now:

The keyword “list building” is INSANELY COMPETITIVE.

Think about it:

Every Search Engine Optimization company in the India wants to rank this keyword.

And I’m a one man show going head-to-head against giant companies .

To be honest:

I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to outrank these big brands for a such a competitive keyword.

But thanks to the process I’m about to share with you, my post quickly hit Google’s first page for my target keyword.

And today, I rank in the top 3 for “SEO India”. My post also ranks #1 in Google for dozens of related keywords like “lSEO India tips”, “SEO India strategies” and more. And thanks to all these first page rankings, that single piece of content has brought in 18,135 visits since I first published it.

OK, enough bragging 🙂

It’s time for me to show you how I did it…

…step-by-step.

Step #1: Make Your Content Insanely Actionable
A few years back, Google rolled out a major update to their algorithm called RankBrain.

The Google RankBrain algorithm went online in April 2015 but wasn’t introduced to the world until October 2015 via a Bloomberg news story. Here’s how RankBrain was described at the time in the article:

“RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.”

RankBrain is the only live Artificial Intelligence (AI) that Google uses in its search results. While Google uses machine learning to teach the algorithms, AI isn’t being used in the wild – and for good reason. If search broke, Google’s engineers would have no clue how to fix it.

RankBrain, however, is used to sort live search results to help give users a best fit to their search query.

RankBrain as a Ranking Signal
RankBrain has been called Google’s third most important ranking signal (behind content and links).

But is RankBrain really a “ranking signal”?

Not really. At least not in the way we think of traditional ranking signals.

RankBrain is a method of processing search queries in a way that infers a “best fit” for queries that are unknown to Google.

About 15 percent of the queries Google processes every day are new – in other words, nobody has ever searched using these exact terms before.

How can there be so many unknown queries? It’s a hard concept to wrap your brain around.

But if you think about all the different ways we talk about a person, place, or thing you can quickly see how there could be millions of way to ask even one simple question. This will likely even expand exponentially as we move more to voice search as smartphones get better at Voice to Text and devices move into the home that take only voice.

So, in the simplest terms, RankBrain is a processing algorithm that uses machine learning to bring back the best match to your query when it isn’t sure what that query “means.”

At first, RankBrain was only present in a small number of Google queries (about 15 percent). However, over time, it has expanded and is involved in almost all queries entered into Google.

That being said, if Google is sure of the query meaning RankBrain has very little influence. RankBrain is only there to help when Google is unsure of the queries meaning.

What Does it Mean for Google to ‘Know’ a Query Set?
When Google rolled out Hummingbird and moved from “strings to things”, it moved from inferring a match to your search query by using on-page and off-page factors to understanding relationships of people, places, and things to each other by seeding the algorithm with known relationships.

This was in part determined from a database called Freebase at first. Then Google used WikiData. Now they use data fed machine learning for the most part.

How does this work?

This means that instead of determining your article about “red apples” was about red apples from optimization signals such as inbound link anchor text and H1 tags, it already knew that a red apple was a round edible fruit that came in the color known as red.

The database told Google that this string was actually a thing called “red apple”. Then Google can pull back all the best match results for the term “red apple.”

However, maybe you meant “red apple” as in a “red apple computer.” If Google isn’t sure you meant “apple the fruit” or “apple the computer”, it might throw a few alternate results into your query set.

So instead of 10 fruit related results, you might get 8 fruit related and 2 computer related, or vice versa.

This is how Google RankBrain works in the most basic of ways.

When Is RankBrain Heavily Influencing a Query Result?
RankBrain impacts queries in all languages and all countries.

When RankBrain is most in “play” is when the query is unique and unknown.

For instance, before RankBrain was announced, I had written an article about something I was observing in my own Google searches.

It started when I was searching for information on water rights in Nevada during the California drought. (We share a river with them). When I looked up Clark County or Las Vegas water rights, there was a lot of information on Google related to the topic. However, when I searched Mesquite NV water rights (a town 90 miles north) I got back the water authority and nothing related to water rights. Instead, I got pages on mesquite trees, mesquite wood, mesquite barbecue chips, etc.

At the time I didn’t know what it was called, just that this existed. However, this is what we now know as a result where RankBrain was in full effect.

Why? Because Google did not know what the relationship between the “thing or place” mesquite and the “thing” water rights was, it sent back a “kitchen sink” of results.

The idea of the “best guess” kitchen sink is that over time Google will learn what would be the best match to that query.

If you’ve been in search long enough you might remember when you would do a search and Google would show you what words it actually used in that search (despite what you typed in). This was the precursor to RankBrain.

RankBrain measures how Google searchers interact with your site in the search results.

If people like your result, Google gives you a rankings boost.

If not, they’ll drop your rankings like a stone.

And from my own SEO experiments, I’ve found that all Google searches want the same thing:

Actionable Content.

Think about it:

When someone searches for something in Google, they don’t want to read some random person’s opinion.

Instead, they want tactics that they can use to solve their problem right away.

And if you can give that to them, Google will notice… and bump you up a few spots.

For example, when you search for the keyword “SEO India”, you DON’T want to hear why building your email list is important.

You DON’T want my take on the future of SEO India.

You want simple strategies that you can use right away.

That’s why my post has zero fluff and zero filter.

It’s literally a short intro and 17 bite sized tips that you can implement within a few minutes.

Optimize Your Content For Semantic SEO

You already know that you should mention your target keyword a few times in your content.

For example, you can see that I mention my keyword a handful of times throughout my post.

And to take advantage of Semantic SEO, all you need to do is sprinkle related words and phrases into your content.

Get Top Ten Rankings In Google With Simple SEO

Simple SEO is just that. Simple. You can get top ten rankings in the SERPs in many industries just by following some very basic (on the whole, onsite) SEO tips.

It’s worth pointing out that you *typically* have three chances to tell Google what a page is about, and how important the page is.

  1. On Page – The actual text content of the page
  2. On-Site – In internal links to the target page
  3. Off-Site – In links to the target page from other websites

OK – You’ve got your site….. it’s got the usual stuff – home page, contact page, about us, map, products – but you have a blog! A blog lets you easily add pages. That’s all you really need, although you can do this without a blog of course, but then you need to know a bit about website design.

There may be some evidence that the more you link to a page in your website navigation structure, the more important Google seems to think that page is, in relation to the rest of your site at least.

Pages that aren’t linked to frequently may not have enough link equity to make it into Google’s main SERPs.

  1. Optimise 1 page for 1 keyword (multiple related key phrases)
  2. Make sure you have a keyword rich page title, the words, and key phrases on the page and in the name of the actual file path if possible
  3. Link to this page from within your site with the anchor text “keyword” a few times at least
  4. Don’t link out from that page with the exact anchor text “keyword”
  5. Going forward, try and encourage other sites to link to this page with the anchor text “keyword” as opposed to your homepage. This is called deep linking. Of course, the more unique and better quality the information on your page, the easier it is to achieve this. Stay away from low-quality link sources.
  6. Sometimes, I consider linking out (where relevant on this page) to other quality sites

Thinking: A well-optimised page followed with a few incoming links from external sites will perform very well in Google, and is boosted when you tell Google “Hey – This page is important”, by linking to it from other pages on your site. Not linking out to any other page (from the target page) with the exact term you are targeting tells Google as far as this page is concerned, it’s the authority document on the matter (which is the aim of SEO). You would think.

Warning: This works well for small sites, with a few products. Using this strategy on a site with a lot of target pages will have mixed results, and you risk making the site look spammy.

Simple SEO might be all your website needs to get better rankings in Google.

Always remember not all links are equal. Nothing helps an individual page more than on-topic links from reputable websites, but it’s clear you don’t need thousands of links to get top rankings in Google.

Make a relevant, well-optimised page that is well linked to in your internal site structure, and back it up with a few anchor text rich links from external sites. This strategy helps leverage the overall authority of your domain to rank specific pages, ideal if you’ve not a lot of authority to begin with.

Tip to Remember – Give Google what it wants – Optimise your page, and always link generously to your important pages within your site navigation and content.

BIGGER TIP – DO NOT OVERDO IT. Keep it simple.

Traffic Is Never Guaranteed

No1 Ranking in Google Lost 87.5 % Of Value In Last Month & It’s Still No 1.

A lot of folks have been complaining about a loss of traffic on especially long tail searches. My initial thought was to do with internal linking because that’s how I’ve traditionally ‘optimised’ for the long tail & increased SERPs competition etc – but a lot of different things could be at play.

I’ve been digging about analytics to see if I could identify a particular reason for this (as I see it on a few sites I monitor) and there doesn’t seem to be anything stand out and consistent in my analytics so I checked the source – Google SERPs.

In one example I thought was interesting enough to share – I’m looking at a 4 keyword term I am number one for (which gets a bit of traffic) drop 87.50% in traffic in the last few weeks…. AND IT”S STILL NUMBER ONE.

LOL

What do I have to thank for this PARTICULAR SEARCH?

  • New 3 column SERPs layout making SPONSORED LINKS creep that further bit down the page and push organic listings further down
  • NEW SERPs layout encouraging clicks away from the organic “centre’ listings – I mean, come on WTF is using that ‘wonder wheel’?? Totally distracts the user clicking into Google UK only results
  • Oh, hello *&^%ing Google Shopping Results and local Business Results & &^%$ing video results and images results, PROBABLY grabbing folks attention from that coveted(?) no1 slot
  • Hey lets not forget REAL TIME UPDATES & NEWS & Search Customisation Updates – the list is extensive

Oh yeah, about that number 1 slot – barely above the fold tonight as I check…. still number one though for all it matters but when you’re committed to building good solid sites for customers and aim to increase month on month traffic it’s not nice to report back:

Oh 87.50% DROP on a main keyterm traffic – Google has f*&^%$£ you. We need videos, pictures and shopping feed to feed the Google monster these days

Now – of course this is on one keyword and it’s a bit of a SENSATIONALIST TITLE I’m using, and everybody will have different reasons for drops in traffic – and plenty are moaning about THAT over the last months. I just thought this was a single, granular example of how I lost a lot of traffic on a keyterm just because of UI changes.

It’s not just what YOU do – it’s what Google is doing with those SERPs too.

In some cases, loss of traffic IS probably to do with how Google is presenting all it’s products to searchers too.

It’s reasonable to assume as Google refines it’s products, they are going to seep more and more into longer tail searches, stealing clicks when previously, you would have got them.

Whats the point of being number 1 for a term if just below or above that Google is presenting eye-catching distractions via Google Video and Google images and Google News and Google Local Business Listings?

It’s probably never been more important to make sure you are taking advantage of ALL Google channels these days because Google is – and it’s playing about with where they appear on the page.

On a seperate note I do subscribe to a lot of the long tail traffic drop theory out there at the moment too – and would probably think Google is getting better at crawling deeper and faster too, and identifying better links, which is could well be the reason if you are experiencing traffic drops.

Why Do Google Rankings Change All The Time?

A big misunderstanding of Google and search engines like Yahoo & MSN is to view them as “one big super-computer.” In fact, they are tens of thousands of machines, located in different “data-centers” (DCs) all over the world.

And they do not get updated all at the same! Instead, changes are rolled out slowly, a few data-centers at a time, and a few machines per datacenter at a time.

As a result of DNS-based load-sharing, the “Google” you connect to right now is not the same “Google” you connected to five minutes ago — It is a different machine at a different IP address so different set of results.

So, you are simply seeing results on different Google machines, depending on when you connect (and where you connect from).

If you see your brand-new site appearing and disappearing, but ranking well with increasing frequency, that is potentially good news.

On the other hand, if you see your well-ranked site dropped with increasing frequency, then that is bad news. It is however possible that you’re connecting to only partially-updated servers (computers), and your data isn’t loaded yet. It doesn’t make sense to panic until your site disappears completely, because it might drop, or it might pop back — You just can’t tell.

This is why no SEO company in Scotland can promise you No.1 in Google. From minute to minute, even Google engineers don’t know who will be top for a specific search term on a specific computer / datacentre.

We aim to build good quality sites with quality incoming links to ensure at least your site remains bobbing about on Page 1 of the results.

Does Google Play Loaded Dice With Your Rankings?

What Would You Do If It Did?

Recently I found an exact match domain for a little project, with 4 domain extensions. I popped a little bit of text on each so as to be ‘unique’. A one page holding site for each. I left for Google to discover.

A few weeks later all 4 exact match domains are in Google(.co.uk) and ranking for their term in the same vertical (with another 168,000 results).

  • .com 5
  • .net 12
  • .org 21
  • .co.uk 23

Your rankings of course, will ultimately be determined by your content and incoming links, and the rankings will fluctuate, but it struck me as slightly interesting to see the difference in ranking between the sites, as I have often wondered where randomness factors into Google – if it does.

In the test sites, the titles are the same, the keyword is mentioned the same amount of times etc etc… theres only 50 words on each page max. There really is not much different between the pages – at all – apart from the domain extension.

If you have a .com in this case, you are laughing – immediately in a top 5 position. But if you choose a .co.uk, you start from the 3rd page? Dead in the water. At least, your starting from a different point.

Perhaps it’s to do with the domain extension, but perhpas it is an indication of how Google works at a granular level – the discovery phase – perhaps at this level, your positions are assigned randomly based on a particular set of principles (which we will never know).

Perhaps this randomness is prevalent in Google inner workings and is what protects it from us ever finding out exactly how any particular element works, and even employees knowing it all, or being able to ‘promote’ –

Matt Cutts did say on his blog:.

someone walked up to me and pretended like he wanted to bribe me: $500,000 for a 1st place ranking. I turned him down, because no one can guarantee a #1 ranking — not even me.

I’ve REALLY tried to isolate some fairly simple elements use in the past – some I thought MUST give me a definitive answer but alas they did not.

If this was the case it means trying to actually figure out how Google works is a non-starter – it would mean there was no sweet spots, anywhere. Perhaps it’s different for all sites. For all elements. Join that together with some ranking elements that are turned OFF, or tweaked, personalisation, geolocation etc etc and you have something that can’t be gamed. Well, too much.

Perhaps this randomness is more diluted for the top sites, than the churn they sit on (everything after page 2 or 3)?

What would you do?

It’s actually very easy to get good returns from Google unpaid listings if you give it what it wants.

You can stack the odds in your favour by adding lots of content and getting credible links to your site. That’s what SEO is for me. Look at what the competition is winning with and try and figure out how to 1. compete and 2. beat them. Usually that means copying them to a point, and then trying to do something better at some point when inspiration hits.

Google has a lot of spammy verticals it seems to want to let you spam your way into them as long as it’s a good relevant site which is at least as good as the current competition that have already. Of course, some verticals seem more protected than others, but that could just be the level of competition, or an ‘age’ thing.

It seems as if Google purposely uses brands to clean up verticals with lower quality competition. If I see a vertical with a lot of big powerful brands as the top ten I think ‘hello’ – here’s a vertical Google needs some help with. Brands (well, specifically internal pages, like a bbc article for instance, are good, but they don’t beat focused anchor text linkbuilding on their own). Or even a great exact match domain that’s been in a low-quality linkbuilding campaign.

To get the most from any element, you probably need to be a player – an online entity – a site with trust in any type of competitive vertical.

Which means getting BETTER, or more trusted, more credible links than the competition has if your page is RELEVANT.

Google is clearly going to be using signals from brands for a long time to come. Links from online brands will make your website a brand until it finds another way of finding trusted sites.

I see a ‘brand’ as a real site, with some real links to it (or fake real links). This is probably why the SEO companies who put links in their client websites rank at the top of the SERPs. I don’t ask any SEO clients for links, but I ask folk we’ve made websites for, for the odd link.

As soon as Google can access your pages, with simple navigation, with original content, with a good title – it really is about getting links from real sites.

This is all pure theory – just a mind wander if you are into SEO geekery. Don’t go changing your domain name or anything silly. maybe this is all just a case of – it looks like that – sometimes.

The point of my article I think is to point out even though you don’t have all the answers, getting quality links is and will be the most important thing you can do to get better rankings from Google. If you want more traffic from Google meantime – add content. Lots of it.

SEO Companies Who Guarantee Number 1 Rankings Are Lying To You

Matt Cutts of Google explains a bit why SEO companies are lying to you when they claim they can guarantee number one rankings in Google for competitive terms….

What Matt didn’t touch on was diversity in search results Google aims for, or geolocation differences, personalisation re-ranking, or what the competition is doing, or tweaks to the algorithm, etc etc etc…. but it’s true no SEO company can guarantee no1 rankings in Google, so don’t be duped.

Taking the analogy of a Horse Race, even if you know where the finish line is, even if you have spent ages examining the competition, and even if you have ‘fixed’ the race so that every other jockey is in on it……what if happens if your horse falls at the second last fence? What happens if it breaks a leg? What happens if it drops dead? What happens if another faster horse enters the race at the last minute from left-field? You’re No2.

And if you’re caught cheating – you won’t even be allowed to race.

Google is like a horse race, with hundreds of potential participants. It’s a horse race where;

  1. You don’t even know where the finish line is!
  2. You don’t get to see everything the competition is planning to win the race, what they did yesterday or what they will do tomorrow, whether that be address site issues, get those all important quality links or indeed hire a better search engine optimiser!
  3. It’s impossible to know how healthy your site is in comparison to the no2 site, assuming your site is no1.
  4. If you are caught cheating, your not allowed to compete in future.

It’s tiring to hear…

“sure I can guarantee a no1 listing, if you give me enough money”

Yeah, throw money at it.

Google Guidelines state;

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google

For me this is the only absolute truth Google tells us. Matt Cutts of Google is on record as saying;

“someone walked up to me and pretended like he wanted to bribe me: $500,000 for a 1st place ranking. I turned him down, because no one can guarantee a #1 ranking, not even me.” Matt Cutts

Even the cleverest of the black hat SEO brigade can’t capture very competitive key-terms for long. Google will eventually catch up – Google manually checks some of the most competitive ‘money terms’ when the algorithm misses it and if they don’t pass a human review – the site will be penalised, along with every other site in that bad neighbourhood.

If you’re in business, you’re obviously not stupid, or if you are, you won’t be in business very long.

A SEO can’t ever guarantee you top results just in the same way as an advertising agency can’t guarantee that next advert in the local press will get you sales. If you’re paying good money to a SEO, you should expect good positions, but that’s it. To guarantee anything you need to know all the variables – even SEO who claim you can guarantee no1 listings on less that competitive terms are fooling themselves. Google can take these positions away from them as quickly as a better SEO with a better site with a better back-link profile. No1 in Google is not an absolute, it’s a floating point.

Best SEO Company Results in Google India

The ‘best seo company‘ search engine results pages always make for an interesting review as many are using tactics they can’t use on your site. These companies do not expect to rank for very long, so it’s common practice to spam a shell site into the top of results to get new customers.

And sometimes Google doesn’t help either:

To be fair, I’ve not seen the SERPS that obviously bad in a while.

Although I see they still rank Topseos.

SECOND – I’ve moaned about TopSEOs before so I will let somebody else have a go…..

Screen Shot 2012-04-30 at 00.29.00

TopSEOs gets decent rankings even today (2016).

It is frankly a disservice to the SEO industry that that site has got away with (in my opinion) massive (near duplicate) press release spam about questionable (some say fake) SEO company ‘rankings’ – and ranks for ANYTHING after Google’s recent ‘over-optimisation’ penalty.

Strange. Is that an indication how much search engines care’s about the reputation of the SEO industry? Then again – does any search engine really care if you hire a crap SEO company or even a company that will scam you?

Apparently there were those who complained about Google’s results – so an ‘over-optimisation’ penalty was needed. I wonder if complaints are up or down since the Penguin was applied….

The penguin update was supposed to:

“level the playing field”

…reward good sites and good content.

Reward natural link profiles…… hmmmm.

To Be Fair….

Bing’s results are ropey as well for this term – wasn’t Bing just telling us about good SEO for bing and the importance of good editorial links not long ago? I expect Google to be better, though – even when I am drinking the Kool-Aid.

It’s ironic to compete for something like ‘best SEO company’ in search engines, you might very well need to employ the same tactics that will eventually lead to penalties further down the line. Use that for an analogy of every other valuable key term, if you want to.

…. it’s almost as if search engines invite you to break the rules to compete before they slap a penalty on you….

…strange that, isn’t it.

A lot of strange going on at the moment, it seems.

BEWARE COLD CALLING SEO COMPANIES, AND SPAM EMAILS

I received this today from a uk SEO company – …xxxxxxxxxxxx – as it’s clear you didn’t even look at my site properly or you are purposely trying to mislead me in some matters – I thought I would review and respond here (IN MY HONEST OPINION AS A SEO):

My answers are in bold.

Ate you up for it?

NOTE – The SEO India site is built this way, on the whole, for a reason. Minimum navigation, minimalist structure , experiments with text and titles – but I can assure you we have decent rankings and this site will get a sh*tload more organic traffic from Google this month than your site will be getting in the whole year by the looks of it.

It’s companies like you, in my opinion, who give companies like us, a bad name. We don’t spam email, never have, we don’t cold call, never have – in fact, we have never paid for any search marketing leads – we get all our business from Google free listings, and we show others how to do the same, which we charge a relatively small fee for.

If your SEO practices are to the same quality as your spam emails, I will be staying well clear of you.

Then, check out the “Searches Related To…” terms at the bottom of the first page.

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