The quest to rank for high volume keywords

By Agata Bowden | 29 Nov 2018

For many of us trying to crack the mystery of how to rank well for high volume head terms, the quest is akin to finding the Holy Grail.

According to Distilled’s Tom Capper, ranking for head terms is no longer down to ranking factors. It’s actually a result of a more dynamic and responsive model in which Google systematically tests, reshuffles, and refines rankings over short periods – even when the sites themselves don’t change. However, this doesn’t mean that rankings factors don’t matter, or that our efforts to perfect title tags and create unique content are a waste of time and money. As such, the SEO fundamentals, such as having a strong backlink profile and robust on-page factors, are still key to success in Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).

User signals reign supreme

In a world where more and more SEOs want to rank for highly popular head terms, we need to be prepared to put a lot of focus on ranking factors and better brand recognition. And most importantly, we need to be champions when it comes to user signals. This isn’t that surprising; Google places a lot of importance on user signals, as these are harder to manipulate than other ranking factors.

It appears that traditional ranking signals get you onto page one, but engagement signals give you that all-desired lift to the top. But the question remains: what can we do in this ever-changing world to outrank our competitors?

Getting to the top

According to an interview conducted by CNBC with Google, the search giant noted it’s important to pay particular attention to the following:

  • The speed at which users interact with a SERP (quicker is better)
  • The rate at which users bounce back to the SERP (lower is better)

There are ways we can optimise for these metrics, such as writing top-class meta data which includes a USP or call to action. Another way of optimising for SERP interaction speed is by increasing brand awareness and perception. Then there’s the all-important task of keeping users ‘glued’ to our website. For that, speed and aesthetics are paramount, but they aren’t the only elements which determine how high or low your bounce rate is. Annoying pop-ups, irrelevant product ranges, or excessively expensive offerings can also be factors, as well as confusing navigation or a lack of relevant on-page content. The list is long and will vary depending on the sector you’re in.

It’s as important today as ever to follow SEO best practices while keeping user behaviour on our radars, if we’re to win the battle and rank for high volume keywords.