Complete Procedure of How to Rank for a Keyword in 2017

In today’s blog post, I am answering this question by Rakesh Kumar.

Hello Rachit,

How are you ? I am happy to see you here. We’ve been friends on facebook for like an year now. I want to learn how to rank a keyword. Don’t tell me one single thing, tell me the whole procedure. Some years ago, I didn’t knew about blogging. Which I pretty much still don’t know. So, I made around 3 blogs, hired some freelancers for 500 word articles and loaded my blog with 2900 articles. Not even a single article ranked !

I then learned about SEO, blogging, and backlinking. But, backlink building sounds boring to me because of Google spam. So, I want to know the process of ranking keywords.

[toc]Wasn’t expecting such a big question at the start of #AskHN. But you know, that’s how life works out, you get the unexpected. This question pretty much is in mind of every blogger who hasn’t been able to rank his/her blog posts, or succeed in making money online.

I’ve been asked this question many times, but in parts. Like one person would ask how to make backlinks, one person would ask how to write good content and so on. I am happy to see one person asking everything at once. More than a help to a single person, this article would help to a ton of bloggers who are working on ranking their blog.

Basics of Ranking a Keyword

Let’s get down to the basics. I’ll be talking about Google – the most used search engine. Although the same thing applies to every search engine. For a search engine to stay in business, they have to display the most relevant search result. This offers a good user experience. If the user is able to find out the information he needed, he will be coming back again and again. So, the key to their business roams around delivering best web pages in search results.


Now, on every topic, there are tons of web pages. They’re in form of blog posts, forum pages, web pages, videos and much more. The search engine now has a tough task of picking up one which is best. Due to the gigantic volume of pages online ( and being published ), this job is not humanly possible. This is why bots are used. These bots crawl your web pages and collect information. They are called as “spiders” or “crawlers”.  They collect every information possible from your website and rank you based on the search engine’s algorithm.

Every search engine works based on an algorithm. The aim of the algorithm is simple – to display the most quality content. The twist is what “signals” trigger the algorithm to think that your web page is the one with quality content. These are also referred as “ranking factors”. Every search engine has its ranking factors that trigger its algorithm. Some triggers such as backlinks, social shares, and user experience remain the same in every case.

So, all search engine optimization ( SEO ) is, is proving the bots that your content is worthy.

Vital Ranking Factors

There are tons and tons of ranking factors ( more than 200 ). I won’t be mentioning all of them here. Also, these are not revealed by any search engine. These are based on the assumption of SEO experts after split testing across multiple webpages. I’d be talking only about the vital ranking factors that you should keep in mind.

  1. Content
  2. Backlinks
  3. Social Shares
  4. Bounce Rate
  5. User experience & engagement


content is king

As I wrote above, search engines want one thing in particular – to showcase the most quality content. No matter what happens. No matter how much the triggers are changed, content is a trigger that would remain there. Content is vital because, at the end, your web page has to be judged by a real human being, not a bot.

I’ve seen people who rank on search engine with a poor copy, but it doesn’t long last. With poor content, your success or ranking is short lived. Even if you make like 500k+ backlinks on a domain, and it has no content. It won’t rank!

In my past ( and still ), I’ve ranked straight after publishing content. Look, I am a lazy guy, I don’t like building links. I realize that they’re important, but I am lazy. So, I focus 100% on publishing quality content. I aim that the content ranks 2nd or 3rd page after publishing ( if not the first one ). Once it’s there, I can sprinkle backlinks every now and then and get it ranked.

See, your user ( the person who is searching ) needs some information. The search engine wants websites that can display that information. So, the most important thing is that information – the content.


Backlinks are the golden key to rank. No matter how lazy I am, I do have to work on backlink building. However, in my case, I am so lazy that I usually outsource it or wait for someone to link to my content naturally. No matter which niche you are in, backlinks will ALWAYS help you in ranking.

Why ? When a search engine sees that a ton of website is linking to you, they know that it obviously means that your content is quality. So, the more backlinks you can build ( clean ones ), the better it is.

Backlinks are of two kinds:- Dofollow, and Nofollow. These are <HTML> traits that are attached to links to signal search engines whether or not to track the linked person. If you give someone a do-follow backlink, you are telling search engines to follow that particular web page also. If you nofollow link someone, you are telling search engines not to follow that web page. Nofollow doesn’t pass as much link juice as do follow.

Both of these links have equal value but do follow have a bit more love in eyes of search engines. If they treated nofollow in the same way, people would spam the hell out of facebook and youtube to make backlinks.

There are tons of ways you can build backlinks, blog commenting, profile links, guest posts, contextual links, are the main ones

Blog commenting

Blog commenting is when you comment on a blog. You have to fill some fields, which also include your website URL. This creates a backlink to your website. In 90% of cases, comment links are given with a nofollow attribute. But don’t lose your heart. There are blogs that use comment Luv, a tool that gives do follow links after you’ve commented a certain number of times. Blog commenting is an easy way to build links, it is fast, and still brings results.

Profile links

There are some websites, where when you register they ask for your website URL. Once you fill it up, it displays on your profile page on that website. This is profile linking. Next time you see an inactive profile on a website but with website field filled in, it’s a good chance it belongs to a blogger who was building links. These require even less effort than blog commenting because you don’t have to think of anything. They don’t work like blog comments though.

Guest posts

Guest blogging is when you write and publish an article on some other blog. This is by far, my favorite most loved backlinking strategy. Because it has more than one benefits. First, you get exposure from that blog’s community. If you are a blogger and you get published on ProBlogger, that’s a huge achievement in your portfolio. Second, you get to make connections with the owner of the blogger. And last, you get a do follow backlink.

I always recommend that you publish your best piece of writing on some other blog if you’ve just started with blogging.

Contextual links

These are highly effective links. This when you get linked from within the body of the blog post. This can happen in a number of ways, they either link you because they love your content, or you pay them to link to you ( shhh, google doesn’t like this ).

Social Shares

If an article has a ton of shares on Facebook, what would you think before reading the article?

“That article must be good”

Right ?

That is precisely what google thinks about social signals. If your blog post has got a lot of social shares, that is a great trigger for search engines. But, these are getting hard to gain with the changes in algorithms of social networks. You need to have a really good authority and following to get social shares or you can just buy them ( if you are lazy like me ).

Google Plus and Facebook signals are seen to influence the ranking the most.

Bounce Rate

Suppose you are a teacher. There is this kid in your school that you think is innocent and kind. But more and more students come to you with his complaint. More and more students tell you that he uses bad words, and misbehaves with other kids. What would happen, you’d start to believe that might be Jimmy, not a bright student.

Bounce rate also has a huge influence on your search engine ranking. Bounce rate in simple terms is how quickly people run away from your website. This is why I say that quality content is the number one search engine trigger. If you publish spun content or poor content on your website and make a ton of backlinks. People will go to your website and leave it immediately. Because guess what, they’re humans and they can easily differentiate between poor and quality content.

The moment they flee back quickly, your bounce rate increase. The greater your bounce rate is, the more search engines would think about breaking up with you. So, you better publish good content. You can decrease your bounce rate by making your website easy to navigate and publishing quality content on regular basis. Make a bunch of inbound links so people spend more time on your website.

There is some genius who think that they can rank by asking their friends to open their website and keep it open in the background. If you have at least a thousand friends who are ready to do this, it won’t have any major impact.

User Experience & Engagement

Search engines also watch how the user engages with your website. They can differentiate blog post body from user comments. So, if you have a ton of legit comments, that’s a plus point on your side. But, if you publish crappy content, people open your open website and don’t find the information and step back to google search results, bingo bango, you lose a point.

Now, if a bunch of people does this, it won’t make an impact. But if you rank on search results with crap content, a lot of people would do this and your ranking will eventually come down. So, you should focus on publishing worthy content.

What to do to Rank for a Keyword in 2017?

Above, I’ve talked about the key factors that Google’s search algorithm takes into the algorithm. Now, there are a ton more, here is a list of complete 200 factors that Google takes into consideration. Now, the question that comes to mind after reading all this is, how do I rank for a keyword then?

You never rank, you always get favored by google. You have to do build factors that trigger their algorithm and tell it that your content is more quality than the person currently ranking on google. To achieve that is simple, you do more than what they’ve done.

What I mean is, suppose you want to rank for “best smartphones under $100”.

Here’s what you have to do:-

1. Google and find out which websites are ranking on top 5 positions.

2. Use backlink checking tools, and social shares monitoring tools to check how many backlinks they’ve got, how many social shares they have. Also, take note of their domain authority and page authority.

3. Then, if they’ve made 400 backlinks, you have to work to make more than 400, if they have 300 shares on Facebook, you need more than that.

4. Also, take note of their content length. The average content that ranks on google is quite lengthy. So, you want to publish quality content as well. One mistake that a ton of bloggers does is, buff up their blog posts. Buffing up is when they add unnecessary stuff just to increase the word count. Instead of doing that, provide more value by covering a highly related topic.

5. You can also spy on their backlink footprints to see where they’ve gained backlinks from. Once you know where they’ve made links from, you have to build links from there as well ( if possible ). This won’t be a big problem as long as their link is from a publication like HuffingtonPost or a big blog who has linked specifically to them. But if they have built comment backlinks or profile links, that can be done!

Here’s where you went wrong

The person who asked the questions hired some freelancers and asked them to write 500-word articles. He filled his site with a total of 2900 blog posts. This is a ton of blog posts, but not quality ones. Because I am more than confident than when you were publishing 500-word blog posts, the person ranking was easily above 1k word.

Now, there is no set limit for how many words you should write, but the thumb rule is, the more you write, the better is.

Final words:- Do you have a question, ask me in the “ASK HN” page and I’ll write a detailed answer for you. Feel free to leave your doubts, and feedback in comments below.


Rachit Singh is the think tank & editor of Hacknovations. He is the author of two crime fiction books, founder of a content marketing agency ( Scribbify ) and a passionate marketer. He contributes and has been featured in several publications.

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