how to get on page 1 on google

Being on the second page of Google is not a crime, but we know that if you are on page 1 your business will generate more traffic and clicks.

After all, being on page 2 is generally not a place you want to be:

google page 2

However, to be able to get your site onto page 1 requires some SEO (search engine optimisation) skill and in this post you are going to learn how we assisted a client to achieve just that.

And we did it in just 90 days.

Yes, in this post we are going to cover:

  • The exact steps we took to get on page 1 of Google.
  • The formula we applied to the site.
  • And how you can achieve the similar results.

Ready? Let's do this.

A Strategic Plan To Get On Page 1 Of Google

While I cannot name the client in this case study, what I can tell you is this:

  • It is an industry worth million of pounds in revenue.
  • The average product sale is anything from £500 to upwards of £30,000.
  • The competitors all turn over millions in revenue.

So, in essence, the industry has the money to use SEO specialists and as such most sites have been optimised and have utilised SEO at some point of their website journey.

And yes, we literally took them from page 2 of Google to page 1 for important industry relevant keywords.

So, how did we do this?

The process has 3 parts:

Part 1: The creation of an SEO strategy designed to bring the client results.

Part 2: Technical SEO improvements of the website.

Part 3: Content improvements for content already ranking on page 2 for the client.

The first step in plotting your way to page 1 of Google is the development of the right strategy.

I have lost count of the amount of leads I have lost when I refuse to work with them without first creating a strategy and yes, strategy development is a paid service.

And I can tell you that having checked on all those that said "no" to a strategy first approach, 100% of them are still in exactly the same position they were on Google, with several losing traffic and rankings.

So why do people say no to strategy?

At the core of this is the belief that strategy development is not work and people only pay for 'actual work'.

So, many people treat SEO as if it were a task to be completed, a bit like decorating your bedroom.

The decorator turns up to your house and paints the room in the colour you told him to. He doesn't need strategy.

Likewise, the SEO is paid to get your business on page 1 of Google, they just need to do their ' SEO stuff'.

The issue with this of course that SEO is not like decorating a bedroom, In fact, SEO is more like brain surgery. It requires thousands of hours of experience, skill and of course application to get it right, and you wouldn't want your brain operating on without a highly skilled surgeon who had first done some tests!

So a good SEO will first develop a strategy to grow traffic for a business... and that is exactly what we did first.

"SEO is more like brain surgery, and you wouldn't want your brain operating on without a highly skilled surgeon who had first done some tests!"

Click to Tweet

So, to get onto page 1 of Google you need a plan and that plan comes in the form of a strategy.

So what elements should a good SEO strategy have?

How To Create A Great SEO Strategy

If you want to get on page 1 of Google then you will need a strategy.

But what exactly should go into your SEO strategy?

Well, a good SEO strategy has 4 components.

  1. An audit of your website
  2. An analysis of your competitors websites
  3. Keyword research
  4. A bespoke plan of action

We will break down each section so you know why these 4 things are important.

I use 4 tools for a site audit. The first is Ahrefs site audit tool.

The tool is very useful and it is a simple case of adding your site, altering the settings and then going through the results.

ahrefs seo site audit tool

While if you are new to SEO the screen shots might seem overpowering, Ahrefs has actually done a really good job of explaining what everything means and with a click of a button they will even tell you how to fix the issues.

By conducting a site audit you will see the technical issues on your site that you need to improve. However, I am a stickler for double checking things so I also conduct an audit with another tool called Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog is a tool that you have to download first to your computer.

They have a free version too which is excellent and I use it to double check Ahrefs data to see if I have missed anything.

I also use Google analytics and Google search console to check for any issues and penalties that may be in place or have been. 

From there we need to analyse the competitors of your business.

How To Analyse Your Online Competition 

If you have competition it makes sense to analyse them to see how they are gaining traffic to their websites.

To do this, I again use the Ahrefs and their site audit tool.

All you need to do is to enter in your competitors websites and they will crawl the pages to give you the data you need.

From there, with a click of a button you can see how they gain all of their traffic and analyse by each page:

Once you have analysed the sites you will know who they gain their traffic, the standard and strength of their backlinks and also where their traffic sources are.

The next step is keyword research

How To Conduct Keyword Research That Grows Your Traffic

Keyword research is, in my opinion, the single most important factor for an SEO.

Why? Because until you choose the right keywords to target you have no idea what it is going to take to get your website on page 1 of Google.

And so, this is where your competitive analysis comes in. You already know what the competitors are ranking for and as such you can create content about these subjects, but make it better content.

But only do this if the content aligns with your business goals.

So, where do you start?

First up you need to create a spreadsheet.

I use Google sheets and this is fine.

Next, add to the spreadsheet all of your competitors keywords, if you are using Ahrefs there is a handy little export tab you can click:

Once you do this you have a list of keywords you can target.

Simply go through the list and get rid of any that don't make sense for your business.

Next up, you need to head over to the Ahrefs keyword explorer tool and type in a broad term for your industry. This is likely to be the core service you offer as a business.

When you do that, you need to scroll down the page to the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) results:

You are going to focus on 2 things.

First the DR and UR scores. These are scores given to a website, the DR (domain rating) shows the backlink strength of the entire website and the UR (URL rating) is the backlink strength to a single page (the page we are looking at).

Although backlink strength can be manipulated, you want to stay away from keywords that have a high UR score.

This means it will be tougher to rank online. And if the UR score is low, next up look at the DR score. Again, if this is also high it is likely to be tougher to rank online.

Now because every business and industry is different this is why it is worth paying for an SEO specialist.

You might spend a lot of time and effort trying to rank online for terms you can never rank for without spending a small fortune on SEO services. 

So, for example, you might be a digital marketing agency and want to rank for that exact term but when you look at that you can see the competition is stiff. Therefore it might make sense for you to focus your budget towards search terms that you can rank for. 

And so, we go to step 2 of your keyword research.

We find terms that you can rank for.

To do this click on the keyword ideas tab in Ahrefs and sort in order of keyword difficulty (KD). You want to filter the scores to be between 10 and 30, then go down the list and look for a keyword that fits your business goals.

But when you do, click the SERP button and this will load the SERP results:

Scroll down the list and see how the competition stacks up for that keyword.

You are looking for a site that is considerably weaker in both UR and DR yet still ranks on page 1 for that keyword.

If you find one (as in this example), you know that you are likely to be able to rank online for that keyword with a little bit of effort. 

Add all the keywords you like and fit our criteria and then export the list and add it to your spreadsheet (I suggest creating a separate sheet on the same spreadsheet).

How To Get On Page One of Google...FAST

The final part of our keyword research and the most important for being able to get on page 1 of Google quickly is to look at our own keywords. 

Because this is how you can get onto page 1 at lightening speed, by improving the content that already ranks on page 2 of Google and improving it so that it ranks on page 1.

If you haven't already, head over to Ahrefs and input your own site.

When you go to keywords, you should use the filter option and put in 11 to 20 so you will see the keywords on the second page of Google.

You will also be able to see the search volume that the keywords gain each month and the traffic your site is likely to gain (you can do this with Google search console also).

Once you export this data you will have 3 sheets.

You will have your competitors keywords, your industry target keywords that you have a chance to rank for and also your page 2 keywords, the keywords you already rank for but are on page 2 of Google.

Now it is time to build your bespoke plan of action.

How To Build An SEO Plan

If it was easy to reach the first page of Google everyone would do it but as it is not easy, you are going to have to build a plan to get there.

If you recall we have 3 keyword lists:

  1. The keywords that your competition ranks for and you do not
  2. The industry keywords you want to target
  3. The keywords you currently rank on page 2 of Google for

We are going to tackle them in reverse order.

With our plan we are going to build a road map for the next 12 months of our SEO efforts. While it does depend on each site, here is what climbing the SEO ladder might look like:

Months 1 to 3: Technical SEO Improvements

It is in these sections that you fix the problems that you identified in the site audit.

Depending on the level of problems and the client budget, this might take 1 month or up to 6. 

Months 4 to 6: Content Enhancements For Page 2 Rankings

It is after you have fixed the site issues that you can begin with your enhancement of the content.

Most websites that rank on page 2 of Google do so because the page is either weak in the content or context of the article.

Or, another possibility is that they have too few backlinks to that article. 

If you set about fixing these issues you are likely to see higher rankings quite quickly. And yes, this is how we took our client site from page 2 to page 1 in 7 days. 

This ALSO might mean building backlinks as well as creating better content.

Months 6 to 9: Industry Focused keywords

It is in these next 3 months that you can create or optimise content that matches your industry focused keywords. 

This is content that will help you to gain clients. 

Some of these keywords are likely to be in the content gap section too but you are actually going after terms that you want to rank for that are targeted for your industry.

It is likely that you may already rank for some of these keywords but you rank lower on Google. For an example right now, I currently rank position 21 for content writing services. It is a keyword that matches a service that I offer, so it is a good industry fit for me.

In this case I would look to optimise that page and build backlinks to it.

You might find that you need to create content from scratch for your industry chosen keywords. Either way, it is these keywords that might be harder to rank for so they will require more effort.

Months 10 to 12: Content Gap Reduction

And finally we have the content gap reduction.

After you have had your quick wins by getting your rankings from page 2 to page 1, identified all the keywords you want to rank for related to your industry and have either created or optimised content, what is left is to close the gap between you and your competitors.

This is where the competitors spreadsheet comes in handy.

You can then start to work your way through the keyword list and create content along the same lines as they have done... only make it better. 

How To Make Technical SEO Improvements To Your Website

Technical SEO is a vast subject that would be impossible to cover here and every site is different.

However most business owners do not even cover the basics of SEO so you if you cover these then you are in with a fighting chance.

The first thing to do is of course address any issues found as a result of your site audit.

Luckily Ahrefs has a handy 'to do list' tool.

As you go through your audit and see the technical issues, all you need to do is click on the plus button and add this task to your 'to do' list.

Once you have added your tasks you can access your 'to do' list by the side menu.

How To Enhance Your Page 2 Content So It Ranks On Page 1

At this stage we have made technical improvements to the website. This in itself can easily take a website from page 2 to page 1 and is how we achieved this for our client. 

But you want the successes to keep coming through and to do this you will now need to enhance content ranking on page 2 to get that content on page 1.

Now that you have your list of keywords that you rank for on page 2 of Google, you need to start to walk through that list article by article and make changes that will help the page to rank higher.

The 2 most important factors are what we call 'click through rate' and 'dwell time'.

These factors signal to Google that the content matched the query of the searcher (because they clicked on it) and also that it answered their query (because they spent time on the site).

It is these core signals that we want to chase.

How To Use Power Words To Rank Higher

power words

We know that click through rate matters when it comes to SEO if you want to gain a higher ranking. An increase in clicks is a superb signal to Google that your content is great.

One of the fastest ways to increase the number of people clicking on your articles, and in the process helping you to rank higher, is to add 'power words' to your title.

A power word is an impactive word or phrase that grabs the attention of the reader and usually gives a promise to the reader.

Here are some examples:

Skyrocket: By inserting the word skyrocket into a title you are telling the reader that your information will give them rapid results

Killer: This word appeals to our deeper and darker side. When you say something is 'killer', you are saying the content will 'kill' whatever problem the reader needs a solution for. For example, if you are struggling for body weight exercises you might create this: '50 Killer Body Weight Exercises" and so on.

Complete Guide: This doesn't really need to be explained but you are saying 'this is the only resource you will ever need'.

Secrets: When you say you have a secret people are more nosey because you are saying  "Hey, I know something you don't." You are telling them that they have a knowledge gap. The great thing is that it doesn't matter what the information is, they will only find out by clicking and reading.

Help: The 'help' power word is truly brilliant because you are going right to the root of their issue and telling them you can help them. '10 Ways To Help You....'. When you position yourself as a guide that can help to solve their specific problem you are more likely to gain clicks.

There are of course plenty of other words and generally you can find them in the search results for popular search terms in niches such as 'fitness', but by far the easiest way to find them is to do a Google search for magazine covers.

By doing this you will have a list of the some of the best power words there are.

How A Shorter Intro Can Help You To Rank Higher

Once we have created a title we need to make sure our intro grabs the reader to make sure they think 'great, this posts is for me' and this will help to reduce bounce rate.

One of the best ways to do this is to dive into the content as soon as you can. 

This is what I call a 'Drop Shaft' introduction. 

Of course. by drop shaft I mean that you read the introduction and you fall into the content immediately.

SEO guru Brian Dean does this really well with his content:

In this example Brian only uses 3 lines before he dives into his core content.

You actually don't need to even have an introduction to your content. Many great writers don't, such as Ash Ambirge who dives straight into content.

Ultimately the faster you can get them into your content, the better and often the best way to do this is with a short intro or with no intro at all.

How To Use Benefit Rich Sub Headers To Grab Readers Attention

This tip is all about capturing the people that 'scan assess'.

I am a 'scan assessor'.

I click an article and I scan down the page to see if it is worth reading and I judge this not by the content, but by the sub headers. 

If the sub headers grab my attention I will stop and have a look and then make a decision to read and having deployed content analytics tools on many websites I know this is the same way a lot of people read articles.

To make sure you get the attention of your reader try and make your sub headers contain a benefit.

There are a number of ways to do this and here are just a few:

1. Knowledge Benefit Sub Headers

Another superb example from Brian Dean here is a sub header which tells you that by reading this section of the article you will learn how to achieve an increase of knowledge.

2. Takeaway Sub Headers

This example from the Ahrefs blog is a 'take away' sub header. With this type of header you are leading with the conclusion of your content and then your content will actually prove your conclusion.

These are very powerful sub headers because they grab the attention of the reader, especially if this is contrary to what someone normally would think. 

3. Instructional Sub Headers

This example by Jon Morrow is what I call an 'instructional sub header'. This is a sub header that tells someone what they should be doing in the sub header itself.  

You then expand on the 'how to do this' in the content itself. 

By adding these types of sub headers to your content, you will soon see more dwell time on the page.

Insert 'Also Asked' Content To Rank Higher

Our final tip for improving your rankings via content enhancement is the obvious one... improve your content. 

The thing is, most people never spend time improving their content and this is why they remain on page 2 or lower.

If you are struggling to think about what ways you could improve your content, Google has your back because they have given you the clues in their search results. 

The 'people also ask' pop up appears in a lot of search results because it is designed to help you find what you need from your search. 

But for any content creator this is a goldmine of research information. 

Just start scrolling through and see if you can address these questions within your content to make a more complete article.

How To Monitor Your SEO Progress And Results

You now have your keywords and your content is upgraded, but how are you going to monitor your progress?

Well there are a variety of keyword tracking tools online but once again, our tool of choice is Ahrefs' keyword rank tracker.

The rank tracker is super easy to set up and will give you detailed information on your chosen keywords as you rise through the rankings.


The key to ranking on page 1 of Google within 90 days is all down to the research you do before you do any physical SEO work.

The most important thing to do is to fix technical issues and see what your site is already performing for.

From this, you can start to create a plan to focus on the right target keywords and web pages first.

This is the process that I have used now for some years and it has lead to incredible results for clients.

Let us know if it works for you too.

Thanks for reading!

Andrew Holland

posted April 2, 2019

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