How to Rank number 1 when you are Coming from Behind

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If you are not currently number one, then you are coming from behind. So the title is a bit redundant. The point that I would like to make is that when you enter the market for a keyword, you are behind in a race that is constantly being ran. To reach number one, you must outperform the number one website in the key metrics, by enough of a margin to close the gap and then by enough to maintain your lead.

To do this, you need to know what goes into making a number 1 ranking and then you need to set about creating as much as possible for your own site consistently.

Recent trends and changes in the way that Google displays results mean that it is more valuable than ever to have a number one spot. You need to be above the fold and in the top 3 but the number one spot can get as much as twice as many clicks as position 2 and 3 combined.

Also, some studies have showed that lower positions actually have lower conversion rates, meaning that visitors are more likely to buy if you are higher up in the results.

So, you need to aim for the highest value keyword that has an exploitable gap. This could be relatively weak competition or some sort of advantage that you have in the niece.

The Factors in a Number 1 Rank.

It basically comes down to 3 things. The authority of your site, anchor text (links) pointing to your page and the content on your site.

So, you can Grow the authority of your site by getting more high quality links pointing in, you can get more links pointing to your page or you can grow your content which allows you to get more pages indexed and send more links to your target page.

The easiest way and the one that you have most control over is growing your content.

As a side note, ‘churn’ is the norm below the fold. Most sites lack a good foundation and so experience a lot of movement. By getting more pages indexed, you build that foundation.

You can build this foundation by getting more high quality links pointing to your site as well, but growing your own content is far easier.

So, the process for building your content and ranking a page is:

  • Grow content
  • Get it indexed
  • Use anchor text wisely

There are a number of common content mistakes that you should avoid.

  • Low value Content – Scraping content, spinning articles and other similar techniques are a big no no. Use good quality content and use the question of “Does this add value to the market?” as your yard stick.
  • Hiding additional pages so don’t get indexed or more commonly just not making them accessible to the search engines through your internal navigation and linking. If your content can’t be found, it won’t help you.
  • Outgrowing your ability to get new pages indexed. At some point, you will have used up all of the authority that you have coming in through external links and Google will stop indexing new pages on your domain. At this point you need to get some high quality links coming in so that you can keep growing your site and getting new pages indexed. Until that point growing your site is an easy win. Most sites could grow a lot!

How to grow your Content.

The simplest way is to add a blog to your site. Use it to post tips and news on your subject or whatever you feel would be of benefit to your visitors.

The key thing that you must do is integrate it into your navigation. As mentioned above, if your content can’t be found, it isn’t going to do you much good.

Once you start building up your content, you can fire links from your posts to your target pages.

The Method.

We have covered what you need to do, so now I will walk you through the steps you ned to take to actually do it.

1. Find blogs, sites that are relevant to your market, are of high quality and post frequently.

A Google alert is an excellent tool for finding relevant content as it is published.

Collect the RSS feed of all of these sites in a reader. I recommend Google reader as it is a solid feed reader and its free. There are more functional readers out there but start with this one until you know what you want.

Try to collect at least 10 great sites. You want a steady stream of content every day so you need enough sites to serve that content.

2. Select the items that you want to use.

Your criteria needs to be your own and will be different from any one else’s, but use quality and value as a starting point.

3. Write descriptions of the content.


  • A link to the original source.
  • A Title – different from the original.
  • Describe what is it, where is it from, who has written it.
  • Who the post is aimed at and why it is good, useful and  interesting.
  • How it relates to your site and your visitors

Aim for around 200 words. No shorter, but that is all you need and writing more will just mean the whole process takes longer.

Mix in own original material every now and again.

4. Publish your content.

There are many tools that you can use to speed up this process and do it all in one go. For example, Scribefire for Firefox and Newsnetwire.

The important point is that you are publishing it to your blog.
Post immediately unless you are writing a week’s content all in one go.

5. Optimise posts and internal links

At some point, not necessarily when the post is written, it should be optimised for SEO and links to the appropriate target page should be included.

Each task here is a prime target for ‘chunking’ tasks where you focus on doing one very similar task for a set period of time without distractions.

So, find all of your posts in one go, then at a later time, write all of the descriptions etc. You will be much more productive be breaking the tasks down in this way.


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How to Start Link building for a New Website.

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It can be confusing when you have a new website and you want to start link building. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there about what type of links you should get and how fast you should get them.

Before we get started and get into the different types of links, I want to make sure that you are using 2 very useful and free tools. Google webmaster tools and Analytics. They are virtually impossible to beat for the price and give you important information about your links and keywords. More importantly, they keep you up to data about how Google views your site.

Now, lets talk about links…

Directory Links

These used to be the first thing you did when you had a new website. Unfortunately, they have been spammed and abused so much that most of them provide no value now and there is even rumours of Google de-indexing large numbers of them.
It may still be worth getting a link from a high quality directory like BOTW, but don’t spend much time on this type of link.

Blogroll links

These are a mixed bag. Theoretically, these should be great as they are a big endorsement from the webmaster of the site. In reality though, they have been twisted, abused and spammed to death.
I would still say that you need to take it on a case by case basis. For example, if a site has a handful of great sites that are totally relevant in is blogroll, you may want to get in their. If however, they have 50 sites to junk sites; run a mile.

These fall into the category of site wide links, so see that section for more info.

Site wide links

On first glance, these look amazing! Instead of getting 1 link, on a 50 page site, you get 50 links. Awesome! Well, not exactly. Google understands what is going on and only counts them as 1 link. Think of it as each site only being able to give 1 site 1 vote.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with them, they just aren’t as good as they seem and they clutter up your link profile.

Comment links

These are one of the most used link types by black hatters. Tools like Scrape box can generate thousands of junk comments and links totally on autopilot and they used to be quite effective but aren’t now.
Again, there should be no problem if you are posting genuine comments that add value, but you are relying on Google being able to separate your genuine comment from all of the junk. that’s a risk that I am not that keen on taking.

Social Media Profile Links

Generally ‘nofollow’ but a great way to start your link building anyway. This is where you put a link in yout profile on Twitter or Facebook etc. Linking froma quality profile isn’t going to hurt and might get you traffic from the social site.

Editorial Links

The kind of links that you get without asking when you are putting out top quality content and showing it to people. These are probably the best kind of links that you can get.
You can increase the chances of getting these by networking.

Guest Post Links

These are a close second to editorial links. Basically, you either write a great post and ask a webmaster to post it to their site or you ask a webmaster what they want and write it for them. You are getting your name out and adding value to a site. this also increases your networking range if you maintain the relationship.

Resource links

Oftentimes, older sites may have links pages or resources pages and it can be worth asking the webmaster of these sites for a link. (If your site is a good match)

Leading on from that, you can ask anyone for a link. Just coming out of the blue with that request is going to get you turned down a lot but its only an email!

Legitimate Business Links

Industry directories, local business listing, chamber of commerce etc. can all be great links.

Local links

Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing business. these can bring in traffic and increase your exposure.

Reciprocal links

If you are doing this for reasons other than SEO, then there is nothing wrong with it. From the point of view of SEO though, they don’t carry much power.

I think you can probably gather from my descriptions, which links I think you should aim for.

Business listings, local links, resource links, social media profile links, guest post links, and begged-for links. Then go get your BOTW link and go back to the start.

Consistency is the key for most sites, that and focusing on putting out great content.

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What is a Quality Link?

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No one really knows the exact metrics that go into deciding how valuable a link is, but it quite clear that all links are not equal.

At one end of the scale there are all sorts of spammy types of links. I will define these as any type of link that adds no value to the web and is created purely for the sake of getting a link, normally for SEO. (I know that is pretty vague but I want room to wriggle!)

In times gone by and up to fairly recently, these links have been very effective. Google is getting smarter all the time though and their number one enemy is spam. Spam sites, spam content and spam links. So unsurprisingly, these links have been devalued to one degree or another. What is more, it seems that having those types of links pointing to your site now may actually harm your rankings.

So, if we ignore all of these types of links, and look at links that a normal site may have aquired in a more or less natural way, we would probably find, links from friends blogs, local contacts, forums that you participate in etc. These links are fine. They are clearly not spam and those sites probably have a small amount of trust and authority. They are unlikely to help you much though in terms of rankings for any competitive terms.

One link from a industry specific site of reasonable quality and age will more than likely have a larger effect than all the rest put together and one link from a world-wide recognised name like the BBC or CNN would probably give you a boost that is an order of magnitude greater.

So what factors influence the actual quality of the link? In no particular order, you should think about:

Relevance of the site to your keyword
Relevance of the page
Relevance of the text around the link
Quality of the site, age, freshness, original content etc.
Prominence of the link
Number of outbound links and their target
Alexa rankings to gauge popularity of the site.

These are of course just a selection and there will be many more factors, but these should get you thinking about where to get the best links for your site.

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How big an impact do Social signals have on Search engine Rankings?

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Firstly, it is worth bearing in mind that if a searcher is getting personalised results (if they are signed in) and they are a fan of your business, it is highly likely that you will appear higher up their search page. The same goes if they have been visiting you a lot. So it is worth getting them to your site often as that will increase the chance that they will come back even more!

But, I think that we need to look at this from a non-personalised point of view.

It appears that one of the things that Google found in a recent study on social sharing is that it is inherently more PERSONAL than broadcast channels and as so may not be as big of a ranking factor as some people think.

On the other hand, a huge study performed by Search Metrics:
showed a strong correlation between social signals and Google rankings. (correlation, not necessarily causation)

It is likely, that social metrics are used to factor into a trust and authority score in some way but not all of them. Google have recently  come out and said that +1 are not a good quality indicator at the moment. If you think about it, Social media and the platforms it uses change so quickly that if would be very hard to use indicators such as likes or Tweets to influence rankings because of how fast the landscape changes.

To the extent that Google can identify users, it may have an effect on rankings, but probably not the individual sites.

Social media is of huge benefit to a business but probably not from an SEO point of view.

Read more here:

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Does your site pass the Red Pen Test?

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SEO best practices have changes massively with the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates.

It used to be the case that the best way to optimise a site for a particular keyword basically involved trying to get that keyword in as much as possible without it looking too unnatural or spoiling it for the visitor.

Google is getting smarter though! They can basically now tell if your use of language is unnatural and is being twisted to fit in keywords.

Here is an example:

If you have a site selling pens, the standard SEO technique would be to put in keywords exactly as a searcher would type them. So you might have, Felt tip Pens, Biro Pens, Marker Pens etc. in your menu. But given that your visitor knows that they are on a site about pens, they would be perfectly able to understand a menu that said: Felt tip, Marker, Biro etc. and in fact, adding the word ‘pen’ to each line makes it more cumbersome.

Google is now able to spot this sort of thing and is actively penalising it.

If you have had any sort of SEO done on your site, it is imperative that you check that your site passes the new test.

See the full test here:

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