Sunday, 16 June 2013

How To Rank High On Google : The Non-Technical Version

I was recently asked by Christopher  Pernell Thames, CEO of  Knogimmicks, what my strategy was for this blog post  being ranked in first place on the first page on Google's search engine for over 4 consecutive weeks (as at June 16th).

It is a question I have been asked by others as well and one about which I have pondered a great deal. I initially attributed it to luck because five days after I posted the article, I manually typed in  a few key phrases in Google search box, (being the non-technical expert/'techie' that I am), and found the article in eighth place on the second page. Well, let's just say that I could not, for the life in me, keep this piece of good luck to myself. I promptly did what any newish, humble Blogger could do - I told everyone: family, friends, contacts, etc. Then I inundated my social media platforms with such news. I am surprised no one protested :-) .

After a moment of calm, which spanned a few days, I re-visited the article, added new insights and really examined every detail. I began to form an opinion about why the article was even visible on the second page.

About two weeks later, I typed the same keywords into Google's search box  and got the greatest surprise since I began blogging -  there the article was, in first place on the first page! Regular checks from May 15th- June 16th, revealed that it  mostly held that coveted position for over four consecutive weeks.

Property of Rethinking Business Communications Blog

Now I am no search engine optimisation (SEO) expert, nor do I have an arsenal of technical tools, advanced knowledge or a great number of followers in influential circles. However, from my point of view and knowing the actions I took while writing that post and 'promoting' it thereafter, below are six reasons why I believe my post ranked highly on Google. This is the bona fide non-technical version:

1) It was relevant/current

Like  everyone  with  access  to CNN  and  other  international news networks, I tuned in on April 16, 2013 after I had heard about the devastating Boston bombings.  

I started writing the article the day after the bombings and kept abreast of news throughout the week for facts and 'research'. The more I learnt about the incident, the more intrigued I became about the way President Obama handled the media. From a communications point of view, I studied his speech and felt compelled to write about it.

The timing of the blog post was also crucial; it was published the day after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured - in other words, soon after some major breaking news.

The article being relevant and current made it more likely to become visible during that period. However, other actions listed below helped increase visibility.

2) It had a simple, catchy title

I kept the blog title simple but catchy. I asked myself what people would want to know/learn from the President's speech and simply penned it. This was done without a deliberate attempt to pack the headline with SEO-rich keywords. To be honest, the title was the easiest part of the process. Sometimes, going  with your 'gut' feeling is best.  You don't need to 'over think' it.

3) It had passionate, heart-felt content

Once I began writing the article, I felt inspired. I wrote from the heart and excluding time used for editing, the main content flowed like milk. When you are passionate about something, it really shows and it makes a difference in how your article is received. People who read the article were kind enough to describe it as "deep", or said I "laid it down" and tended to pass it along to their contacts.

Write from the heart. Be passionate about your topic and be your own advocate; a cheerleader of your own opinion. People who notice would be inspired and would share your article in their networks.


4) It has a mix of internal and external links, as well as varied multi-media such as images and a video


Now the techies and powers-that-be on the Web would tick this box and would ecstatically explain why posting a blog article which contains images and videos and links to reputable sites such as CNN, creates more visibility. I am not one of those techies but I did notice that a single link to the video of President Obama's speech must have been instrumental in increasing the article's visibility, as were the images and the links. From the basic statistics of the article, I could see that people tended to click on the video link and other links and return to the blog to apparently finish reading the article. 'Backlinks' is the term I think the techies use and apparently getting more clicks back to your site is a good thing.

5) It was submitted to a credible website such as Knogimmicks

I have read about the infinite benefits of guest blogging for reputable websites or experts from experienced bloggers. It is a good thing because you build credibility in your niche, as well as increase your visibility on the web and drive more traffic to your website.

Now not all of us, (myself included), have a list of influential people to contact. Therefore, when Christopher Thames invited me to submit an article on the Knogimmicks' website, I was honoured. He believes that his website would  be  the next TechCrunch and I am inclined to believe him. The website has gained impressive traction in its less-than-eight-months’ existence.

So I promptly submitted my article. The visibility that action created was impressive. About a week later, my article became visible in the Bing search engine on the second page using the same keywords I had used in the Google search engine. As I write this post, the article on the Knogimmicks website is currently first place in Yahoo search engine as seen below:

Property of  Rethinking Business Communications Blog

It is also in second place in Bing; both under the search description - "Boston bombings what we can learn".

Property of Rethinking Business Communications Blog

And all that came from a single submission on a fast-growing and influential website....

6) It was constantly promoted on social media and other platforms to ensure regular views and backlinks

"Content is king" - as it is often declared in the Blogosphere.


I have learned from the social media techies that  great content  is very important for credibility and visibility.

However, it  must be promoted and shared on the vital social media platforms so as to drive traffic to your website. The added benefit, for those with an entrepreneurial mindset, is that increased traffic can be converted to sales as explained by Lilach Bullock of Socialable in this postBy the way, being 14th on the Forbes' list of Top 20 Women Social Media Power Influencers, means that she obviously knows her onions.

So rather early in my blogging journey, I cultivated the habit of sharing each blog post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon etc. I also registered my blog on the influential blog directory Technorati, (the official authority in  blog  rankings  at  that  time,  which  unfortunately no longer provides the service), and signed up for Blogupp. (This is a blog promotion service that promotes authentic blogs for free).

I also ensured that I set up Google Authorship for my articles, which helps to credit me as the author of published content on the Internet. Another important tip: don't forget to tag all your articles with relevant labels to increase visibility.

These actions I believe have helped to create a lot of visibility and clicks on my blog. The page views might be modest but still very encouraging. Besides, there is a plethora of other tools which are available to increase visibility online - all which could be learnt from the various techies and thought-leaders  on Twitter...



No doubt the techies would have long drawn-out explanations for being ranked highly on Google and other search engines. However, what I have realised is this - write great content; take certain actions recommended by the experts; include  the ones listed above, and watch your visibility (and credibility) increase online. And you do not need to be technically astute to do so.


You do however need to be serious about keeping abreast of evolving trends and about taking note of numerous tips meted out by the techies...usually for free in their blog posts. Start by following a few of the professional Bloggers and experienced content creators who are extremely credible in their niches,  on Twitter. I suggest  that you follow, at the very least, Jeff Bullas;  Lilach Bullock of Socialable;  and  Marya Jan of Writing Happiness - which is what I did. You'd be surprised at what you'd learn and how useful you'd find their advice.

Remember - being ranked highly on Google is not an impossible feat and you do not have to be a powerhouse to make the top spot. It helps nevertheless if you are proactive, determined and willing to soak up information like a sponge.

So what other non-technical tips could you share about being ranked highly on Google or on other search engines? Kindly post your comments.


N:B- Images courtesy of Images of search engine rankings supplied by author.