5 Strategies to Maintain and Improve Your #1 Rankings in Google – After You’ve Reached the Top

March 11, 2010 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Most SEO articles and blog posts I come across talk about how to achieve top rankings in Google for targeted keywords and what it takes to get there. While ranking is of course the crucial first step, what’s missing from the sea of information out there is the answer to the question, “what next?” What do you do when you finally reach your goal of #1 rankings? Do you simply enjoy the ride and pray Google keeps you at the top spot? Or is there a way you can be more proactive with your approach so you can maintain and even add to your success?

In this article, I want to answer all of those questions and outline the various strategies and steps you can take after you achieve your #1 rankings.

Like it or not, obtaining #1 rankings for a bunch of competitive keywords is not the end of the road for your SEO campaign. If you’re lucky enough to even be in a situation like this, there are still quite a few things you can do to solidify your position for the long term and further increase traffic and conversions.

1. Increase the page’s “linkability” – reinforce your position

As you know, SEO at its core is all about good content and inbound links. If you have both, you’re more likely to rank favorably in the engines. That being said, the competition (ranked 2-10) is out to get you and you can’t afford to sit on your hands.

At the bare minimum, you need to increase the “linkability” of your ranking page. If you’re on top for a popular search keyword, you’re probably getting a lot of targeted traffic. The good news is that high SEO rankings are essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re ranking #1, more people will see your content and potentially link to it, thus reinforcing your position at the top spot.

What you need to do is encourage these natural links that come about from a top listing. A lot of people trust Google’s rankings so they search to find resources to link to (e.g. bloggers). Your job is to improve “linkability” by proving to everyone that Google isn’t making a mistake by ranking you first.

Here are a few ways you accomplish this:

  • Improve your site’s design. When it comes to attracting links, looks do matter.
  • Expand your content and make it head and shoulders above the rest (i.e. something that can’t be found anywhere else)
  • Temporarily remove advertising. I’m sure you’d want to monetize your rankings, but too many ads can be a turn off for links, especially if you overdo it. It might be a good idea to limit the ads for a while until you try to get some more links. This will help you to make even more money later on.

2. Aggressively seek out links

Once you have a top ranking for a competitive keyword, you can leverage your position to gain even more links. For example, a link you add to a relevant Wikipedia page is more likely to stick. You can also contact bloggers and ask them to link, especially if they have the related content on their sites already.

Look for opportunities to gain links whether it be through guest posting, article marketing, or just plain begging. Not only will the added links make it more difficult for others to overtake you in the rankings, but you can also mix up the link anchor text to try and get the same page to rank for other related terms (more on this in point 4).

3. Optimize click through rates and conversions

Are you maximizing the benefit of your #1 ranking? Chances are, you’re not. There’s always room for improvement, especially with click through and conversion rates. Below are some tips for each.

Click through rates
Just because you have a #1 ranking doesn’t mean you’ll get X number of visits per day. While positioning is definitely important, you can still greatly increase the chances of your listing being clicked by tweaking the following items.

  • Title tags. This is the bolded link text that you see in the search engine results pages. Try adding a symbol like “*” or “->” to the beginning of the title to attract attention. Alternatively you can play around with the actual title text to see how it affects CTR. For example, you can shorten the title to make it an exact match of the search query or you can make it a little longer by adding catchy phrases like “Read This First!” The title tag is by far the most important on-page SEO factor so make sure your targeted keyword has the most prominence. Also keep in mind that the search engines need at least a few days or weeks to adapt to your changes. You don’t want to change things too much or too frequently or else you risk dropping in the rankings.
  • Meta descriptions. This is the blurb that shows up with your search listing. While Google will oftentimes change this up depending on what’s being searched, you can specify your preference by inserting the meta description tag in the head section of your page. Add in a descriptive sentence with your targeted keywords and a call to action to pique users’ attention/curiosity.

Conversion rates
So you have a #1 ranking and the searcher clicked through to your site. Now what? You want them to convert! In other words, you want them to do whatever it is you want them to do on your site, whether it be signing up for your newsletter, clicking on ads, or buying your product/service.

Take advantage of the steady stream of traffic by constantly testing what works and what doesn’t on your site. For example, does having an orange button convert better than a green button? Now’s the time to test, test, test. Besides performing A/B split testing, use a service like Crazy Egg to see where users are clicking most.

4. Expand on ranking opportunities

#1 rankings in Google are nice, but there’s opportunity for even more visibility. What can you do? Well first, you can expand the keyword scope of the ranking page to target even more keywords. For example, if your title is “Blue Widgets” you can expand it to something like “Blue Widgets for Sale in New York”. That should allow you to get even more rankings for various more-specific keywords. Sure you may be diluting the keyword density of the title tag for your main keyword, but if you’ve been adding links as I suggested in points 1 and 2, your ranking should be able to hold. Remember that the majority of searches are long-tail so don’t be stuck narrowly focusing on just 1 keyword.

Additionally, you can add a second indented listing to your search result. If you have 2 rankings on any search engine result page, Google will bump up the second one to show up right under the first. For example, if you have a #1 ranking and a #10 ranking for a keyword using the same domain name, Google will automatically bump up the #10 ranking to #2. So essentially you only need to get to #10 for a #2 ranking. This is definitely worth the effort. Create a related page and go for it. In case you haven’t seen it before, here’s how it looks.

Targeting misspellings of your keyword might also be a good way to get additional exposure. Just make sure there is significant search frequency so you’re not wasting your time.

Finally, if your #1 organic listing is driving a lot of traffic and conversions, the logical next step is to bid on that keyword in paid search. Since you know the value of each visitor (from your analytics), you’ll know exactly how much to bid while remaining profitable. It’s a no brainer. Furthermore, supplementing your #1 organic listing with a paid search ad has the potential to have a 1+1=3 effect, meaning the presence of one can improve the effects of the other.

5. Future-proof your SEO rankings

SEO as an industry is extremely volatile and your rankings could easily change or even be wiped out as a result of algorithmic shifts based on new technology and trends. So what can you do to prevent this? The key is to future proof your SEO by building your campaign around long term signals of quality. Exploiting loopholes or using tricks to rank might work now, but probably won’t stand the test of time. Solidify your position now so that you can continue to reap the rewards later.

In addition to the good content and quality links, below are some of the types of things search engines will look for in the near future to determine the authority of a site.

  • Traffic / user engagement. Google has a lot of information on user behavior and it’s only a matter of time before they start using it to influence the search rankings. Work on building a popular site that fulfills user demand and the search traffic will come naturally.
  • Branding. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that “brands will clean up the Internet cesspool of misinformation”. Do you want to build a brand or be part of the cesspool?  Don’t just build a generic site that’s replacable in the SERPs. For example, if you’re getting the majority of your traffic from search, that just looks unnatural and could set off some red flags. Build a strong brand and business. That way, if Google doesn’t rank you highly, it looks bad on them.
  • Social media. Social media is all the rage these days – and for good reason. Networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have a ton of user data and all of this can be leveraged to figure out popular news stories, blogs, and websites. Be sure to be active in these areas promoting your site if you’re not already.

That pretty much sums it up – the 5 steps you should take after achieving a top ranking in Google. Can you add anything to the list? What have your experiences been in maintaining and improving your #1 rankings?

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64 Responses to “5 Strategies to Maintain and Improve Your #1 Rankings in Google – After You’ve Reached the Top”

Rich Hill on March 11th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Gyutea,

This is one of the most well written articles on SEO that I have ever read. I sure hope you are right on all counts, because I for one am going to implement.

I had not thought about the value of a brand enough and can see that would be an excellent point to fall back on when the river changes it’s course.

Thanks so much!
Rich

 
Andrew@BloggingGuide on March 11th, 2010

You are right, not a lot of information is posted regarding maintaining your high spot in the rankings. And this is one great article. I agree with expanding the keyword scope of the ranking page because long tail keywords can also do the trick. If you rank for a short keyword and also for a long tail keyword then that would be truly great!

 
Tom | Build That List on March 11th, 2010

This information is pure gold! I have a couple of main keywords I am now on the first page for, now I just need to get them to number one – but I can still use these tips on the way up.

 
Nimit Kashyap on March 12th, 2010

very good post, the idea of getting wikipedia links sounds very good.

 
Chris Peterson on March 12th, 2010

Very Well written Article. Getting wikipedia link and increase pages linkability is the best technique to stay top position in major search engine.

 
Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny on March 12th, 2010

Gyutea,
What I most enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to learn something new every day. Blog promotion is like working out a giant puzzle.

Your five strategies for improving and maintaining first place in google rankings came just at the right time for me. I spent yesterday giving my “blogger” page a make-over. I’m working through your list. My page looks much better now! It’s designed to be a list of blogging tips to save time for busy bloggers. This post has been added to the list :D

 
STRAIGHTALK on March 12th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I dunno about this technique, I don’t think this is correct since You have ‘OnlY’ mentioned Organic once but no info on how to gain organic search results.

For organic placement You must first understand the source code of anywebsite…

Once You have this, You will always stay on top!

Thanks though
Norman Flecha
STRAIGHT TALK

 
SEO Doctor on March 12th, 2010

Good points, I would also add that you should be monitoring the competitors behind you also. Track their link profile and see if their getting any links you haven’t.

 
Jimvesting on March 12th, 2010

This is a great post, but I have found the BIGGEST problem is simply “caring” after you have reached number one. It is much like being in a race where you are fighting all the time to get to first place… once you are in first place it’s really hard to hold your position because there is nothing left to gun for. Hopefully having this guide can serve as inspiration and motivation in and of itself

 
KS Chen on March 12th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I think we really need to seek out the link aggressively to reinforce our first place ranking. This is the best and easiest way to maintain the ranking in my opinion. Thanks for sharing! I really learn many things from this article. I will try to optimize my blog page with many other keywords. :)

 
Andrew on March 12th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

The advice about title tags and meta descriptions is good; not sure about Wikipedia though as it’s no follow.

 
straightalk on March 12th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I have read many of these responds and only could say that I also see many of You don’t have any Idea on what You are saying..

Wikipedia is essential for any website.

just like digg, and delirious..

No-follow links… I don’t even know why this came up but I have been using comments on high ranking sites.. For PR.. and Man I see SERPs with my keywords..

Norman Flecha
STRAIGHT TALK

 
John Stone on March 14th, 2010

Thanks for the information. I have top ranking for many keywords but have never worried about loosing my rank. I will now be more proactive.

John
Drop Cards

 
DiTesco on March 14th, 2010

I don’t think I can add anything else of significance to this list of yours. If there is any, I will say that they have been renegaded to “6″ onwards. Simple ways and yet effective. RT on the way and I will be including this on my weekly echo, if you don’t mind.

 
Jack from HP toners on March 17th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Can you elaborate on targeting misspellings?

Aside from including misspelled keywords on Meta, should I include mispelled keywords on my content?

Thanks for this article, Mr. Park.
:)

 
Alvin on March 19th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks Gyutae for such a comprehensive article. Now you give me so much homework to do. :-)

I would also like to suggest using business directory listings (ex: CitySearch, MerchantCircle, B2BYellowpage, Yelp, Google local, Yahoo Local, etc) to:

1) Bring in quality web (and in-store) traffic
2) Build brand – through positive comments (risk of getting negative ones too)
3) Build more incoming links and make your brand more search-able.

Thank you

 
straightalk on March 22nd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

yes what ever is used as keywords should be used for content also..

But try to have separate keywords for all your pages.. this should of been done when creating the structure of the website.

Norman Flecha
Straight talk

 
rososusilo on March 22nd, 2010

Seems difficult to remove the ads in my blog. but I’ll try.

 
Vance Sova on March 24th, 2010

Hi Gyutae,

I agree with all of your points with some small reservations except one point.

I think that including misspellings of keywords is not such a good idea anymore if it ever was and if it worked.

Google will see through that for one and the majority of people who know how to spell will be turned off if they see the incorrect spellings.

Vance

 
Basil Marais on March 25th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I believe that what you have outlined here is the crux of the SEO business. However, getting a Wikipedia link appears to be easier said than done. Any pointers on how to do this?

 
Brian D. Hawkins on April 4th, 2010

This is an important topic even for niche AdSense sites. I have a couple niche blogs that I was lucky enough to reach number one in the serps and I’ve been scared to death to touch them now. Especially since the money they generate is still growing. I’m talking about adding content, I still work on relevant links.

 
Jesse on April 5th, 2010

I just found your site. EXCELLENT content. I’ll be visiting back often.

-Jesse

 
Joel on April 7th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Yep, this is important stuff to keep you at #1
At the moment my fight is getting at top with my blogs and websites, after that i will follow this steps cause they are very important.

 
Caution Tape on April 16th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Links are important. The higher the page rank of the site that links to you the better, but relevance is equally important. Make sure that the site that links back to you is at least in the same niche as yours. Random links mean nothing to Google – remember that it is all about perceived importance and relevance.

 
Seo specialist on April 26th, 2010

My strategy for long term ranking effects has always been focusing now on short term ranking goals while working at the same time on the side your long term ranking goals. In other words I aggressively rank for long tail keywords now and while I enjoy high rankings for these low hanging fruits, I also am working my rankings for the bigger main keywords.

 
The Salad Project on April 28th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

You made an excellent post. I would highly agree with your first statement, about how we should have strong links coming into our sites.

 
Local Internet Marketing on April 30th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Lately I’ve been thinking more about something you mentioned in #2, mixing up the anchor text to target a wider range of keywords. Definitely an important consideration that I’ll have to work on along with the rest of the items you mentioned here.

Really great post, thanks for the time you put into writing it!

-Eric

 
Bit Doze on May 2nd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice article about how to remain number 1 after you are thare. Thanks allot for this usefull info.

 
pravakar on May 2nd, 2010

The article you have written is absolutely useful. Expanding keyword is one of the hot issue to stay in top ranking.

 
Tutus on May 4th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you so much for this information! People often talk about how to get to number 1, but staying there really is the key. There are a few points mentioned that I could definitely work on.

 
Melvin on May 5th, 2010

Great tips. What I’d like to do to is edit my old posts to ensure that they are maximizing the search benefits.

 
Glyn Lafferty on May 12th, 2010

Hey,

The stuff on clickthrough rate, title tags, meta tags and conversions didn’t even come into my head when thinking about my ranking.

This is really great content

Thanks

Glyn

 
suroz on May 13th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you for sharing this good article, especially the point about using long tail keywords. It is very useful for me.

 
adam on May 13th, 2010

Thanks for the article I will definatley start implementing these stratergies into my own blog as it is on the rise, I like what you said about title tags and will try this and let you know how it goes thanks again.

 
Brigitte Mehr on May 20th, 2010

Great article with some good solid advice I shall be implementing in my site.

 
Jamian on May 25th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I like that you mentioned about the importance of the Title tag, Description tag and Silo! I still seeing peoples are not paying enough attention on these basic but very important aspect of SEO. Good post though.

 
Vitality on May 26th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

this is very nice, the links you have written here is very useful, and links is very important. anyway thanks for this useful info. this can really help us!

 
Paulo Almeida on May 26th, 2010

Nice! Very good strategies!
Congratulations

 
Adit on May 27th, 2010

Achieving the first rank in the search engine is the pride, but not enough to just up there. I agree, we must always strive to manage the position. Won more easily than defend it. Your strategy so good, I’ll try it. I need to improve the design of partially my first step, to be more interesting. Thank you for your information.

 
Wilsan on May 30th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Hi Gyutae,

I cannot agreed enough your 5 strategies to improve the Google ranking of a website. There is one on-page seo strategy I would like to add is Anchor Text. Anchor texts are keywords that you’re trying to target for the page that’s being linked to. A lot of people making mistake of putting a link as “Click Here” instead of a keyword is an opportunity missed.

There are 3 more off-page seo strategies that I would like to add are linking to Authority sites, forum commenting and blog commenting. Google views linking to Authority sites as extremely highly relevant and powerful links. Also, active participation in forum and blog commenting are very effective way of improving your website visibility and ranking in Google.

Wilsan

 
Shawn on June 3rd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Hey Wilsan looks like you have a great knowledge about SEO.

 
Heinrich on June 4th, 2010

You make some very good points. It is important for people to understand that SEO never really stops. When you reach the #1 position your competitors will actively target you and try to overtake you. If the strategies that you have mentioned are implemented the chances are that the #position will be maintained.

 
kavin paulson on June 14th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Good article about SEO with a different approach. I found point no 5 interesting.

 
jackson ville on June 15th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you for this informative post. That is my question for a very long time, what will i do if my site is rank no.1 at google? what will be my next step?. and this post answers all my question. Thank you again.

 
Ramon Samudio on June 17th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Crazy, very crazy.

 
rgear2010 on June 23rd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice share, It will be a helpful guide when you are new to SEO.

 
rgear2010 on June 23rd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

This is true, even if you are at the top, don’t stop working on it.

 
sports wager on June 27th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

It takes so much hard work to get to the top searches that you just can’t afford to lose that spot, you have to keep working hard

 
hiwaarco on June 28th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you for the excellent read

 
Harshit Singhal on June 29th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Blog commenting & forum posting are methods of generating backlinks and can drastically improve your google page rank,thus bringing in more traffic.

 
hiwaarco on June 30th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you for the good read

 

Wow – thanks for this very insightful article. Some of the things you mention I have known but there are two things I haven’t yet realized: That ‘cross-linking’ your articles increases your chance at remaining at number 1 spot in Google. But afterwards it did make sense because a lot of seo experts reckon that with proper ‘cross-linking’ within your website you can actually get a higher pagerank.

The other thing is:It’s quite logic, again, what you said about the exposure of being in the #1 spot: That more people will actually be able to link to your article/post.

Didn’t thought about all the other factors – I just reckoned you get more targeted traffic by being number 1.

Thanks!

 
joe on November 19th, 2010

now i know how to maintain #1 ranking.. maybe I need to expand more to increase my SE ranking

 
Justin Bartlett on December 9th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I’m a huge believer in online branding and creating a larger than life you throughout the web; the more that you’re mentioned and become synonymous with the keywords that you already rank #1 for, the more reinforced your position becomes and the more natural links you’ll receive!

 
Stephen on December 28th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Very informative and comprehensive article. SEO is like a product, it has to be observed and constantly improved otherwise it will loose its competitive value.

 
FreeBosh on January 1st, 2011

The hardest part is reaching the top. :)

 
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