How to Rank on Google: 3 Ingredients for Reaching #1 in Search

If you’d like to know how to rank on Google, the short answer is…

Create SEO content that people love, and search engines can crawl and understand.

If you dissect that short answer above, ranking content on Google boils down to three ingredients:

  • Content
  • People loving it
  • Google knowing that

I’ll admit it. Those three factors are overly simplified concepts to concisely communicate what it takes to rank on Google.

This post is the conclusion to a 3-part series on SEO content.

So far we’ve covered:

Part 1 – How to Plan SEO Content

Part 2 – SEO Copywriting Tips to Please Google and Humans

And now…

Part 3 – How to Rank on Google: 3 Ingredients for Reaching #1

SEO Ingredient #1 For Ranking on Google: Content

This is self-explanatory—content, after all, is what shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs). I won’t get into detail here since part 1 and part 2 already covered it. If you haven’t read those yet, go ahead, we’ll wait here.

SEO Ingredient #2: Content that Ranks is Content that People Love

We started covering this in part 1 and 2 with tips on how to know your audience well enough to come up with content ideas that will resonate with them.

Since Google takes cues from visitor engagement with content, you’ll want to encourage interaction by visitors.

But just writing something you know people will love might not get the volume of visitors you need engaging with your content to send Google the signal that your content is worthy of ranking on the first page.

So the goal here is to drive a good volume of visitors who have high engagement rates.

In this section, we’ll talk about ways to:

  • drive more traffic via content promotion
  • optimize your content for engagement

Drive more traffic via content promotion

SEO is not the only marketing channel in town. There are other creative ways to increase traffic, including:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid advertising
  • Influencer marketing

An integrated marketing strategy where you promote your content across all those channels can boost its reach.

Andy Crestodina’s graphic and quote from this blog post about content promotion really sums it up:

“Traffic often leads to more traffic. Once we get visitors, some of them may lend a hand and help us with content promotion.”


The more you promote your content, the more people see it. That increases the chances of getting inbound links and shares–both signals that tell Google that people like your content.

One of my favorite ways to give content a boost is to run ads on Facebook targeting people with interests that are relevant to the content. It’s fairly low cost since you are offering a free piece of content. By targeting people with relevant interests to your content, you drive the right people to the content and into the top of your funnel. And if your content resonates with them, they’ll share, link, and engage with the content in ways that will help Google see its value.

Takeaway: Make sure you fully promote your content to give Google enough traffic to analyze and get a clear signal that visitors find it valuable.

Related: How to Increase Organic Traffic to Your Site

Optimizing SEO content for engagement

It’s not sufficient to get a lot of visitors to your content. You need them to engage with it—whether that’s sharing the post, linking to it, downloading an ebook, subscribing to your newsletter, or some other form of conversion.

But it’s important to make sure it is crystal clear to your reader what their next step is.

The call-to-action should be eye-catching, hard to miss, and easy to take.

Think about what the most appropriate forms of engagement should be for your content and make sure the reader knows what to do next.

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of asking.

For example, Alexa’s emails include a call-to-action that says “If you find the post useful, we’d love it if you’d share it.” And we make it very easy for the reader to share with a pre-filled tweet.

Takeaway: Make it easy for readers to engage with your content. Make calls-to-action clear, concise, and appropriate for the reader’s next step.

SEO Ingredient #3 – Follow Technical Best Practices for SEO

In part 2, we talked about how to check on-page SEO to make sure you’ve provided as many clues to Google as possible to help the search engine know what your content is about.

For example, including your keyword in all the right places and making sure you’ve included critical metadata are top priorities.

But sometimes there are site-wide technical issues that get in your way of ranking on Google. Luckily, fixing technical issues is not a required step for every single piece of content you create. However, as you create more and more content you should be aware of duplicate content, broken links, or problems with crawling and indexing. These issues can set you back in search results.

Keeping tabs on the overall health of your site from an SEO perspective and tackling any problems as they arise will give your content the best chance of ranking on Google.

Our SEO audit tool automates the monitoring of your on-site SEO. It alerts you when something has gone wrong and provides actionable advice on how to fix it. That is the quick and easy solution to SEO ingredient #3.

Takeaway: Follow SEO best practices. That way Google gets every important signal it needs to understand and rank your content.


If you want to rank on Google, your priority should be making sure people will love your content.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot goes into that, including keyword research. Our Keyword Difficulty Tool is a great starting point for that process.

From there, ranking your content depends on:

  1. Effective content promotion
  2. Following on-page SEO best practices
  3. Placing easy-to-follow calls-to-action in your content to boost engagement

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