How To Improve Your Google Ranking For Competitive Keywords?

The SEO industry is an extremely tough world. Every serious marketer knows that by heart.

And even if you show up on the first page of Google for a competitive keyword, still, you want nothing more than to occupy that in-demand spot - position 1.

Hey, you already have a performing post. Let’s say it ranks fifth. But deep inside, you know you want more.

What’s all the hype about the number one ranking in Google, anyway?

Here’s the plain and simple truth: Your Google keyword ranking can make or break your business.

Just imagine for a moment that you’ve finally dominated the top spot. Your traffic skyrockets. Basically, you attract 33% of all search traffic. Not only that, you become ten times better than your competitors in terms of credibility, conversions, and sales - the ultimate goal.

Probably by now, you’re saying to yourself that increasing your ranking is impossible.

Let get this thing clear: It is POSSIBLE to boost your position for a high volume keyword.

What you need to do now is follow the strategies in this article. Combine these tips with dedication, consistency, and creativity. Sure enough, you’ll get to that winning spot.

‘Nuff said, let’s get started!


1. Know your baseline search ranking. 

The first and most important step to actually move your current Google ranking up is to know where you’re currently at. Doing this will help you establish a baseline data which you can act on.

If you don’t have a baseline, there’s no way for you to improve.

For you to “diagnose” the ranking of your post now, you can either:

  • Use the manual method.
  • Leverage a rank checker tool. 

To search for your ranking manually, simply type your keyword into Google’s search box and look for your post. Since you’re already showing up on page 1, this method shouldn’t take a lot of time - unless you aren’t.

I manually checked the current Google ranking of one of the top performing posts using the keyword “best blogging tips.” Google tells me that I occupy the 9th position.

baseline search ranking

The second method is to use a rank checker tool called SERPS. You can use it for free.

All you need to do is type in the main keyword that your content is currently ranking for. Don’t forget to enter your domain name.

Keyword rank checker

After I enter my keyword and domain into SERPs and clicked “Go!,” SERPs shows me my current position for keyword “best blogging tips” which is 9.

current position for keyword

In addition to my Google keyword ranking result, SERPs shows me other details such as my keyword’s average monthly searches and average cost per click for AdWords. 


2. Look for variations of your main keyword. 

Your main keyword isn’t the only thing you need to focus on. One way to boost your rankings is to find more keyword opportunities.

We’re talking about keyword variations.

Consider LSI keywords and long-tail keywords. Learn more about these keyword variations, how to look for them, and how they can help boost your content below.

2.1. LSI keywords


What are LSI keywords? These are keywords that are semantically related to your main competitive keyword. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing.

For example, if I enter the keyword “best blogging tips” into Google, I’ll simply scroll to the bottom of the page and check “Searches related to.”

These related keywords are LSI keywords that I can use to improve my content. 

Searches related to

Why do LSI keywords matter for SEO?

Since they help you state your main keyword in other ways, they help you avoid keyword stuffing. Also, semantically related terms make your content more understandable and naturally flowing.

Because Google can now decipher the context your post better because of this variation in user language, it has a greater chance of attaining a higher Google keyword ranking.

2.2. Long-tail keywords 


Next, we move on to long-tail keywords. These keywords are comprised of 3 or more words.

Long-tail keywords easily increase your ranking because they’re less competitive - which, of course, explains why they’re good to integrate with your main keyword.

Though they don’t have a lot of monthly searches, they’re commonly used by people who are close to making a purchase. Hence, their specificity. This means that you enjoy targeted traffic and leads.

Google auto suggestions

When you type a search term in Google, it suggests or predicts possible search terms that you might be interested in. Google suggest is a gold mine for long-tail keyword variations.

Another simple but paid strategy to look for long-tail keywords is to use a popular long-tail keyword research tool called SEMrush.

Integrate your LSI and long-tail keywords in your introduction, H2 tags, images alt text, and basically anywhere applicable. Make sure that you do it in a very natural way. 


3. Publish relevant topics to support your cornerstone content. 

Cornerstone content refers to any content that performs well. In this case, your cornerstone content is the one that already ranks well.

To make that content attain a higher Google keyword ranking, link similar topics to that particular content. If you don’t have one yet, start tackling different angles of your topic to establish relevance.

Remember to use this powerful internal linking strategy to further boost your already ranking content. Think about the structure of a pyramid. Internal links pointing to that content tell Google that it is important.

Cornerstone supporting article

The upper part right below the apex represents your performing post while the base represents all other similar topics that point to your main post.

As you create relevant topics, optimize them for keyword variations such as your LSI and long-tail terms.

If you installed Yoast SEO Premium into your WordPress blog, you should be able to use the plugin’s internal linking functionality. So when you write future posts on your blog, Yoast SEO Premium will check if they relate to your top content and suggest that you link to it. 

Yoast SEO Premium

4. Review on-page SEO. 

On-page SEO refers to all improvements you can make on your blog to rank higher. 

Here are a few on-page factors that affect your Google rankings you need to pay attention to and optimize right now:

4.1. Site Speed


Google made it very clear that it uses site speed as one of its ranking signals. A speed of fewer than 2 seconds is the way to go. The reason for this is that Google wants to provide a positive experience to its users.

Basically, pages that load slowly create problems for people completing transactions. A high bounce rate and reduction in the number of your viewed pages pull down your rankings.

A faster site speed also allows search engine spiders to effectively crawl more web pages. To speed up your site, do the following:

  • Keep your redirects to a minimum.
  • Remove unnecessary characters in your code.
  • Reduce your image file sizes while preserving quality.

4.2. Title Tag 


Watch your title tag. Your title tag should help Google understand the context of your article.

Title Tag SEO

Not only that, it influences the likelihood of users to click through your post on SERPs. So it doesn’t really matter if you rank 5th because a bad title tag reduces your blog engagement. 

Since you’re optimizing for a keyword, Moz recommends that you move your main keyword near the beginning of your title tag.

Remember not to overdo your keywords in your title tag. Do not write a lengthy title tag so that it shows completely on SERPs. Make it unique and descriptive for a positive user experience.

4.3. Meta Description 


Beneath your title tag is the meta description. It’s a 160-character snippet that describes what your blog content is all about.

Meta Description SEO

You should know that there is no direct effect of your meta description on your post’s ranking.

But it does contribute to an increase in your Google keyword ranking indirectly by increasing your click-through rate and the amount of time people stay to read your content. 

Remember to include your main keyword in your meta description so that Google displays it on SERPs. The keywords in your meta description will also be highlighted if someone searches for your topic using those terms. 

Use an active voice to spark visitor action. Think of your meta description as an “advertisement” that should compel users to click through. Including a call-to-action such as “Read more” helps. 

4.4. Image SEO 


Are your optimizing your images for better search rankings? Your text within your article isn’t the only thing that matters.

Images do not just break up a huge block of text to make your blog content skimmable. When it comes to SEO, images contribute to an increase your rankings since they give Google additional information of what your blog post is about.

Let’s assume that you already have images in your post. Here are further optimization tips to tweak your images for SEO.

  • Rename your featured blog post image using your main keyword.
  • Describe your image accurately in your alt tag. This displays in case your image fails to load. In the image above, a good alt tag to use would be “blue mailbox against a brick wall.”
  • Write a good image title to enhance your click-through rate in Google image search.
  • Further describe your image in your caption. People see your caption right beneath your blog post image. 

5. Have a good link building strategy. 

Links remain to be one of the greatest factors that influence your Google keyword ranking, so don’t miss them. They boost or undermine your authority in the eyes of Google.

In fact, a Google study that was done recently revealed that the power of links has become more important than ever.

Google Link Study

If you want success, adhere to a solid link building strategy. Focus on the quality of the links you’re getting instead of quantity. This should be your basis for building a strong backlink profile for your post.

Naturally attract and backlinks to your post by following the tips below.

5.1. Guest blogging 


Reach out to other bloggers in your niche to distribute your content far and wide. This is where you’ll need to leverage guest blogging.

Whether or not the blogs you guest post on gives you SEO link juice (if they’re dofollow), guest posting still naturally attracts backlinks from authoritative and trusted blogs given that your content was nicely written.

Be very selective in choosing the sites you guest post on. start searching on Google using the search string your topic “guest post”

Guest blogging link building

Essentially, you’ll want to target blogs that have:

  • A significant amount of traffic
  • Content relevant to your blog
  • Good metrics (domain authority, trust flow, etc.) 
  • Massive engagement (comments and shares)
  • Real social media followers

5.2. Go into detail 


Did you know that longer content helps you perform better in terms of Google keyword ranking and conversions?

Whether you write content for your guest post or improve your currently ranking post, go into detail.

Your target word count should be more than 1,500 words. Why not go all in by making it 2,000? 

The higher your word count, you get better chances of tackling various angles of your topic. At the same time, you’ll be able to naturally incorporate keyword variations.

Above all, put in mind that quality matters more than quantity. Don’t add fluff to your article for the sake of meeting a higher word count. Long but crappy content does nothing but decrease your engagement and eventually your ranking.

5.3. Social media sharing 


Another proven way to attract backlinks is to use social media.

First, make sure that you are present on social media platforms where audiences in your niche are likely to be found.

Social media sharing

Don’t just create profiles; link your blog to them. Share your content on all platforms. To amplify your reach, use relevant hashtags that also include your keywords. 

Two ways to encourage social sharing are to add sharing buttons to your blog content and stating a call-to-action at the end of the post. 


Wrapping Up 

Many times in my blogging journey, I wished there was a magic trick to instantly increase my Google keyword ranking to the number one spot. It’s a wild dream, I know!

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. If you get lucky without doing a ton of work, then good for you. But for the majority, a carefully planned out strategy is needed.

To sum up all the strategies to getting your already ranking content to the pinnacle of Google, they include:

  • Knowing your current ranking status
  • Using variations of your main keyword
  • Writing relevant posts to link to your content
  • Implementing on-page SEO
  • Good link building strategies

Hopefully, you’ve gained valuable information today. If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories SEO

24 thoughts on “How To Improve Your Google Ranking For Competitive Keywords?

  1. Hey Ankit,
    At first, i want to say thanx for this article.because after reading this I am very confident about ranking.But can you write an article about how to use google keyword planner properly for keyword research? I use it but have a problem with choosing a perfect keyword.This is my request and thanx for the giveaway.keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Ankit,

    You’ve nailed it. I agree with all the points you have made but also would like to add one more adding heading tags. As we know that google can’t read the content it sees for the headings to know about the content.

    The bots read the heading tags and inform search engines about them. Anyway thanks for sharing this content it would be helpful for newbie bloggers.

    – Umesh Singh

  3. Another Awesome Article….

    I have read many articles to improve my ranking on google.

    But this is the best article I have ever read. I will definitely follow all the steps you have mentioned in this article.

    I hope it will improve my ranking.

    Have a Great Day,
    Sumit Sao

  4. Thanks a lot this post meet me at the point of need, I don’t know my search ranking on google even after using the leverage rank checker tool, SERP but I will continue to try and work on the solutions or ideas to rank better on google.
    Thanks once again, have a great day.

  5. Another great article Ankit.I am using all of the methods for my blog. I would love to see a Yoast plugin review in your blog. I want to know if it premium feature is worth?

    • Hi Ravi,

      I am not personally using Yoast Premium. If I decide to go with the premium version, I’ll definitely share my experience through a blog post.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Best,
      Ankit

  6. You cover all the steps that we need to cover.

    I Recommend Content Relaunch helps a lot in increasing your rankings. I mean updating the content by adding more paragraphs with new images will of course help a lot.

    Because it is hard to rank on Google’s first page early. So we should take more chances and do this step.

  7. Hey ankit thanks for posting this article
    Yaha apne declare kiya h ki related search keyword rank improve me madad karte h to kya ham apni post me un related keyword ko bhi add kare jo google show karta h kya isse rank improve hogi

  8. Hey Ankit, thanks for the amazing tips on how to improve keyword ranking. I am a Kenyan blogger and I am still new to blogging. If there’s something fantastic I have learnt from this blog post is the idea of linking to cornerstone content. I didn’t know that until today, so to be honest I am very grateful. I will keep following your latest posts to learn more.

    Thanks once again.

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