Steal That SEO Ranking Information and Let Your Content Soar, Guilt-Free
I am not advocating plagiarism, not even close. I am talking about finding top-rated, online material that closely resembles yours and comparing the keywords, tags, and meta-data. If it’s different than yours, you may have a problem.
This doesn’t mean that your content is wrong, it simply means that your word choices may not align with current tastes, fashions, or with the mysterious Google Search machinations. Top-rated blogs have nothing to prove, they’ve made it to the top of the Google Search heap and gained ultimate visibility. If it’s more traffic that you’re after, you’ll have to dig in and understand the differences between your content and theirs so you can re-align your wording.
If the above resonates with your goals, then you and I are on the same page, and you may be interested in this approach.
Finding Your Keywords
This shouldn’t be brain surgery but due to the opaqueness of search engines, there really isn’t a single way forward. Let’s focus on Google Search as that is the most popular one. From what I’ve read, it seems we can enter about 32 keywords into the Google search bar. So go ahead, enter that title and description or as many keywords that best describe your content in Google Search. The goal is to use similar wording that your potential reader would.
If you’ve chosen the right words, the best matches that surface from the search will be your top contenders — i.e., they do what you do or say what you say but their links show up at the top of the search list. The title and descriptions in the search should be highly relevant to your own content (to the point that it may surprise you that so many people have already written on that exact same topic — but don’t let that discourage you).
Dissecting Top Contenders
Now, pull a couple of the top contenders and read their titles and first paragraphs. Do they do a better job describing your topic? Are they using different words, different phrases, and tones? Do they have better graphics? Are they more or less salesy, transparent, to the point, etc? These are critical content areas that the Google Search engine will parse to rank your posts.
Though this will already reveal plenty, we can still dig deeper. Now, look at the source code for those top contenders (in chrome, it's as simple as selecting ‘view’ in the top toolbar then ‘developer’ and ‘view source’. Once inside, look for the content inside these critical HTML tags:
Also, look at the META tags in the header section of the HTML source:
- <meta name=”title” content=”…” />
- <meta name=”description” content=”…” />
If these top sites are using their HTML properly, you should see the distilled essence of that writer’s content hidden in plain sight within these tags. From my research (and truth be told, the information on this subject is numerous and all over the place), this is one of the areas that Google Search will use to index and rank content.
Also, even if you post on sites like Medium where you don’t control the HTML, knowing how other writers are using their tags and the text they put in it can help you tweak your own content. Either way, it would be foolish not to beef up yours.
I love this stuff; it feels like we’re in the Land of Oz and trying to peek behind the curtain. That said, be wary of big rewrites and constant updates, shouldn’t great writing be able to go viral using its own wings?
For an in-depth look at title writing for visibility and ranking, see “How to Write the Perfect Title That Ranks High on Searches and Generates Lots of Traffic”
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