Ranking on top of Google search is not a fluke. It is an achievement, which is usually the byproduct of a well-thought-out strategy that includes all aspects of optimization – on-page, off-page, technical, and above all, content.
What you are about to read is a strategy that no business will reveal for fear of adaptation. However, we believe the way forward for SEOs to trailblaze and enable the community with insights and knowledge.
Before I proceed any further, let me show you the result that you will get on implementing the steps I’m about to reveal.
There are thousands of articles out there that make prophecies about ranking on the #1 position of Google. Unfortunately, a majority of these are just click-baits. The moment you start reading the article, you are disillusioned to know there is nothing substantial for the bloggers to showcase.
Let me give you a heads up before you think this is yet another deceitful article.
So, here is it. Search “Google Algorithm Update” or “SERP Update” or “SEO Update” (some of the most priceless keywords that top SEO giants have cast an eye on) and you see our article right there on the top as the featured snippet.
Yes. There you go. If you aren’t jealous, you are the purest of the pure soul.
What you are about to read is the strategy that I followed to beat Moz, SEJ and SEL to go all the way up there, with 0% backlinking efforts!
Here is the strategy we follow to consistently outrank industry leaders such as Moz and Search Engine Land with our content.
Content Strategy Based on Quality and not Quantity
When your content is as informative as it can be, both users and search engines will love it. In addition to this, you need the thirst to be there on the top and this is what will drive you to accomplish the steps – one by one.
Step 1: Find Content Ideas that Interests the Audience
Step 1: Find Content Ideas that Interests You and the Audience
Coming up with articles ideas based on the whims and fancies of the writer yields little to no success. Such bloggers can only fancy the chances of ranking on #1 position.
Ranking on the featured snippet requires you to understand the thought process of the target audience. Understand the pain points and try to provide solutions through your content. Only content that adds value can vouch for the featured snippet position.
The most important step that determines whether or you will earn organic traction is the topic that you choose to write. Be it the most prolific writer in your bag, if the content is about a subject that your target audience cares the least, expecting traffic would be like “Waiting for Godot”.
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If you want the next two steps to work in tandem to drive more organic traction, you have to ensure that your unique blog ideas interest the target audience. We suggest you to use tools such as Ask the Public, Ahrefs and SEMrush to filter trending blog ideas that are worth writing on.
Step 2: Segment the Content into Cluster and Pillar
There are millions of articles written about almost all topics under the sun. So, what makes some rank and other get buried in the inner pages of Google search.
Of course, backlinks are a factor, but when it comes to the content perspective alone, the depth of the article is one the key definers.
Take the example of top health and medical websites like WebMD or Mayo Clinic. You can see these sites ranking for almost all naked health-related keywords. How are they able to achieve this?
The secret sauce to there success lies within the way they have structured the content.
A user who come to one of the pages, let’s say about Arthritis, gets to know anything and everything about the condition by the time he leaves the page.
They achieve this by following a simple Pillar-Cluster content strategy. Want to learn more about this highly successful content strategy?
Before we do that let me give you an overview of pillar-cluster concept.
Pillar Content: Pillar articles are generated based on the traffic potential of the topic idea. If a topic has the potential to drive humungous organic users per month, then ranking for it requires better and extensive content than what is already available on the internet. Usually the pillar content focuses on ranking for highly competitive keywords.
You have to focus on addressing the topic holistically. This means the content must include details about what is happening around it currently, what has happened in the past, and what may happen in the future. A pillar content has no word-limit; however, if you fail to structure its subtopics, it becomes hard for users to skim through what they are looking for.
Cluster Content: It’s impossible to include all the details within a pillar content. However, missing these important aspects can draw the difference between you and your competitors. To ensure that there are supporting content to help your pillar to rank on top of Google, you must also have a series of clusters content.
Consider clusters as branches of the pillar. The more branches you have, the more authority your pillar will have. Internal linking the pillar and cluster content strategically will help in passing the link juice, helping both contents to rank.
However, to achieve this feat, you need to ensure that Google and other search engines understand the hegemony of the content distributed within your website.
How is that possible? Your site structure is the key. If you intent to follow a cluster-pillar-based content strategy, make sure that the content priority is set beforehand.
Here is an example of the ideal structure for a website that implements a pillar-cluster content strategy.
Here are some of the live example of better understanding of the pillar-cluster model.
Step 3: Optimize the Content for Ranking in Featured Snippets
How to optimize new and existing content get displayed in the featured snippets is a pressing question that webmasters ask. However, making it to the featured snippet is impossible if follow the right content optimization strategies.
Here are 11 ways to increase the chances of your content to rank in featured snippet.
- Optimize Content to Rank on Top
- Write Content That Answer Questions
- Answer Related Queries
- Stay Focused on Answering Questions Throughout the Content
- Write Short & Crisp Answers
- Add FAQ Section to Your Content
- Format Content Structure for Featured Snippets
- Add a Table of Content with Anchor Links
- Optimize Image for Featured Snippets
- Improvise on the Existing Snippet
- Add a TL; DR Summary
Step 4: Revisit Content by Optimizing it for Striking Distance Keywords
Once you get the content written and published on your website, make a comparison of the number of backlinks that the competitors have created. Even though it’s impossible to create a lot of backlinks in a limited period of time, try to build substantial backlinks naturally through manual outreach to influencers.
There is a very small chance that the content you publish ranks immediately on Google’s first page. That’s why you should keep a tab on the keyword movements for a month using Ahrefs or SEMrush. Once you get the average position of the traffic driving keywords, filter the ones that are on the second and third page of Google SERP.
Improve the information provided in your existing content (both pillar and cluster) either by adding a new subtopic or by adding an FAQ section. Use the striking distance keywords strategically within the content to increase the relevancy.
Continue doing this process for two to three months and you can ensure that the pillar and the corresponding cluster content rank high on the search engines.