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How to Boost Your Rankings Quicker with Link Building

By | March 12, 2018

93% of online experiences begin with an online search. 

Out of all the search engines, Google has an 85% global search market share. That’s why there’s so much emphasis on optimizing your website for Google’s algorithm in particular. 

Yet, there’s one catch involved – SEO is notorious for taking a long time before it starts to pay off. In general, it takes around 6 – 12 months before you see a return on your investment. 

Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to achieve ‘quick wins’ – which will provide results within a few weeks or months.

Stay tuned to discover how you can use link building, Google Search Console, and ‘striking distance’ keywords to rank fast in Google.

Use Google Search Console to Ensure Your Website is Google-Friendly

The most robust SEO strategy in the world won’t amount to anything if Google can’t see your website. To make sure Google is able to discover, crawl, and index your site, you can use Google Search Console. 

First, you’ll need to verify ownership of your website or websites to get started. There are a few ways to do this, but the most common way is to copy and paste a code from Google into your CMS, such as WordPress. 

From there, you’ll want to take a look at the Index Coverage Report

It will provide an overview of which pages Google was able to index on your site. You’ll also see any pages that it wasn’t able to index, as well as any errors that occurred. 

If Google wasn’t able to index your website, pay close attention to the error report. It will let you know what went wrong and during which phase of the process (discovery, crawl, index). 

Common errors to look out for include:

  • Pages marked as ‘noindex.’ 
  • Blocked by robots.txt file
  • Server errors (5xx)
  • Redirect and 404 errors
  • Crawl issues 

Resolve these issues ASAP so your web pages will begin to show up on Google again. That’s a sure-fire way to see a quick boost in traffic, especially if the pages that have errors are optimized well. 

Besides the Index Coverage Report, you’ll also want to take a look at the Mobile Usability Report to ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

It will let you know if your website contains any visibility issues on mobile devices. 

If you do end up fixing errors and adding new pages/websites, it can take Google a few days up to a few weeks to crawl a website, which may be longer than you’re willing to wait. 

If that’s the case, you can request a force crawl, which is an expedited version of a regular crawl. That ensures that you won’t have to wait up to a week for your web pages to start showing up on the Google search results. 

Use Local SEO: Long-Tail Keywords with Specific Locations 

Use local modifiers for your target keywords – such as city, state, or region. Here are a few examples:

  • Best Dentists in Los Angeles
  • Tax Advice in California
  • Loan Agents in the Pacific Northwest

As you can see, each of these long-tail keywords includes a specific area, which ‘localizes’ the search. Local SEO has numerous benefits, including achieving quick results when done properly. In fact, you can see results within 4 – 8 weeks if you already have a claimed Google Business Profile listing.

Locate Keywords Within ‘Striking Distance’ of Search Rankings for Your Existing Pages 

If you have existing quality content that isn’t on the first page of SERPs but is high on the second page – it’s within ‘striking distance’ of generating traffic. This scenario is perfect for creating ‘quick wins’ that will help you rank fast on Google. 

By running a few reports on Google Search Console, you can discover the keywords that you’re almost ranking for on the SERPs. From there, you can make the necessary tweaks to improve your pagerank. When done correctly, you can see results in as little as 3 days

The beauty of this technique is that you won’t have to do any keyword research – as Google Analytics will take care of that for you. 

There’s also no need to hunt for competitive keywords, as the keywords you find will already rank on Google. 

Here’s a breakdown of how it works. 

Run the queries report in Google Analytics

Step one is to open Google Analytics to run the Queries report. Before you do that, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve connected Google Analytics to Google Search Console

Once that’s done, open Google Analytics and go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries to run the report. 

Here’s a rundown of each metric you’ll see. 

The Queries report will show all the keywords you currently rank for under Search Query. It also displays your number of Impressions (number of times you appear in Google for each keyword), Clicks (how many visits you got per each keyword), Click-Through Rate (the percentage of users that clicked on your link when it showed up), and your Average Position (your spot in the Google rankings). 

If you notice that there isn’t much data on the report, input a wider date range. Google Analytics is always two days behind, so bear that in mind when entering the dates for the Queries report. 

Use an advanced filter to uncover striking distance keywords

The idea is to filter the report so that it only shows keywords that you rank for but not that high.

In particular, you want to see all the keywords that rank at the top of page two on Google. These pose the most potential for achieving a boost in rankings with a few simple tweaks. 

If you can crack the first page, you’ll receive a speedy boost in traffic that can help sustain you until your other SEO efforts begin kicking in. 

To find these magic keywords, you’ll want to run an advanced filter on the Average Position column of the Queries report. At the filter box on the top of the page, you’ll see a blue link labeled ‘advanced.’ Click on it to bring up the advanced filter options. 

You’ll want to filter the report to only show queries with an Average Position greater than 10. That will ensure that you will only see keywords that are ranking high on page two and are nearly ranking on page one. In other words, these keywords are a slight push away from a critical SEO threshold. 

Sort the report to show striking distance keywords at the top 

Next, you’ll want to sort the report, so you see the keywords ranking 10 and 11 at the top of the page. It’s as easy as clicking the Average Position column twice. 

The first click sorts the report according to the filter, and the second click brings the 10s and 11s to the top. 

To save yourself some time, don’t forget to save this report, so it’s easy to access. You’ll want to save it WITH the filter applied so you don’t have to do it again. To do so, click Save at the top next to the floppy-disc icon. Make sure to give it an original name, so you don’t mix it up with the original. 

Examine your striking distance keywords 

Once you’ve got your report filtered for your striking distance keywords, it’s time to check them out. You’ll want to identify keywords that make sense for your brand and ignore any that don’t. 

You’ll soon find that there are many strange keyphrases in the report. 

That’s totally normal, so there’s no reason to panic. 

You didn’t run the report incorrectly; it’s just all too common for websites to rank for off-the-wall phrases from time to time. Simply move past the strange phrases so you can find the valuable ones. 

High-quality keywords are ones that have strong searcher intent. In general, three types of intent matter most for SEO:

  • Informational. These keywords signify the users are after information, which is useful for content marketing. (i.e., how to lose weight)
  • Transactional. If a keyword is transactional, it means the user has buyer intent. (i.e., dentists in Los Angeles)
  • Navigational. A keyword is navigational when the user wants to go directly to a website (i.e., Sam’s Guitar Shop)

Put together a list of striking distance keywords that display one of the types of intent you see above. 

Optimize your existing content with striking distance keywords

Now that you know which key phrases are a hair away from ranking higher, it’s time to push them over the edge. 

That means using on-page SEO tactics to optimize your existing content with these keywords. As a rule of thumb, the keyword should show up in:

  • The meta description and title tag
  • The headings (particularly the H1)
  • The body text 

If you’re only ranking on page two, the chances are high that the keyword does not appear in these essential spots. Make sure to use the keyword at least 3 – 7 times throughout the article, especially within the first 100 words. 

It’s also crucial not to neglect your metadata. The keywords need to show up in your title tags and meta descriptions. 

Wait a few days and check back 

If the original page wasn’t optimized very well, even small changes can have a big impact. Also, the good news is you can rinse and repeat this technique as many times as you want. 

Some pages may require a minor rewrite instead of a few tweaks and keyword uses. Either way, you may see the results of your efforts within a few days. 

Increasing Google Rankings Through Link Building

Link building is another technique you can use to rank fast in Google, but it’s a bit slower than using striking distance keywords. 

In fact, it takes an average of ten weeks to see your page jump one position from one backlink.

Naturally, though, you’re probably trying to build more than one backlink.

More than likely, you’re trying to build hundreds of backlinks to your website. And more backlinks will bring better rankings more quickly.

There are loads of different SEO factors that influence your rankings. For example, backlinks will likely help your rankings more when you currently rank lower. (In other words, it’s easier to see more movement lower down than it is when trying to oust the big boys at the top.)

 (Image Source)

But as you near the top, more factors come into play like click-through rate (CTR) based on your title tag and description, UX (user experience) of your website, the content, bounce rate, etc.

In the case of SEO, the better your rankings, the more competitive those positions become – and thus, the harder it is to improve your position.

That’s not just true for your rankings, though. It’s also true for your domain authority.

(Image Source)

In other words, the longer you work to increase your rankings, the harder it becomes.

Unfortunately, seeing the results of your hard work at building links can take quite a lot of time. Generally speaking, the longer a page exists, the better it ranks.

(Image Source)

As you can see in the above graph, the average age of a page that ranks number ten is over 650 days.

That’s almost two years.

And barely 1% of pages less than a year old fall into position one.

(Image Source)

Evidently, Google cares about how long your page has existed. And they care a lot.

Having said that, though, there are some things you can make sure you’re doing to speed up the link-building process.

Now, let’s discuss a few common ways to generate backlinks and the typical timelines you’ll likely encounter from start to backlink acquisition.

Publish Original Data 

If you publish original data on your blog, content marketers might just find it and use it on their own blogs, giving your website extra domain authority.

ConversionXL regularly uses this strategy on their website.

(Image Source)

They also create a lot of images to go along with their results. That way, when someone wants to use their data, they have the option of using an image as well. Again, if someone uses one of their images, they must include a hyperlinked tag to the page they got it from.

And voilà! They get a backlink.

And they don’t overcomplicate their images.

They use simple heatmaps.

(Image Source)

And charts.

(Image Source)

Now whenever someone wants to use their data, they must first give them a backlink.

Publishing original data will do more than just generate backlinks for your business, though. It will also establish your website as an authority within your niche.

It’s a win for your brand image and a win for your rankings.

The typical timeline you can expect for this process is as follows:

  • Month 1: Study/research design: outlining your topic of study, the method you’ll use to collect data, and generating an audience to collect it from.
  • Month 2: Kicking off the study: depending on your methodology, the study can last anywhere from a day to multiple months. If you are studying the effects of something over time, it will last longer than a simple two-week A/B test.
  • Month 3: Results and analysis: compiling the data you have collected into readable language for your users. Turning data into numbers and reference points on specific action items.
  • Month 4: Publishing: turning all of that data into paragraphs and images, quotable statistics, and more common ways to generate a backlink through referencing.
  • Month 5: Social promotion: promoting your new study with social + ads.
  • Month 6: Backlinks start to slowly generate from referenced articles.

Design and Publish an Infographic 

Venngage is a free infographic maker that will allow you to create stunning and informative visuals. 

And include social media share buttons and an embed code at the bottom of the infographic to make it easy to share.

(Image Source)

You might be wondering, though, if people will actually want to share your infographic.

Well, you might be surprised.

People love visual content.

In the words of HubSpot,

“Eye-tracking studies show internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page.”

And infographics represent the pinnacle of visual content. For that reason, infographics get “liked” and shared on social media three times more often than any other type of content.

But if you want to give your infographics the best chance of generating shares and backlinks, consider promoting them at these directories:

Currently, Infographics are somewhat saturated. To combat this, simply repurpose the case study or original data that you have.

If you don’t have any, research the top infographics on your given subject and find ways to make them better.

Whether that’s including more content, updating the stats, or putting an actionable spin on the numbers.

Here is the timeline you can expect with Infographics and acquiring links:

  • Week 1: Research: researching what your infographic will cover. What topic, style and tone. Any stats, data points, or content that needs to accompany it.
  • Week 2: Organizing the data into a “script”: organizing your data into a readable format and a logical flow from start to finish
  • Weeks 3-5: Development: turning your Infographic into a finished product and making meticulous edits along the way.
  • Weeks 6 & 7: Social promotions: Promoting your infographic on social organically and supplementing with cheap ads.
  • Weeks 8 and beyond: Backlinks start coming in from social and paid campaigns!

Leverage Your Social Signals 

While almost all social media backlinks are nofollow, Google directly takes into account the number of social signals that a website has.

Why do they do this?

Because Google wants to make sure that your website is active and up-to-date. Social media is one way it can determine whether you are … or aren’t.

And that’s why there is a direct correlation between how active a business is on social media and how well that business’s website ranks.

(Image Source)

Consider creating a consistent strategy where every time you publish a new blog post or video, you also share it on social media.

Marketing guru Neil Patel does this all the time. Here’s a recent blog post he published.

(Image Source)

He also shared that blog post on Facebook. Here’s what it looks likes on there.

By creating a simple social media sharing strategy around your published content, you’ll quickly build social signal backlinks. It’s an easy way to help your rankings.

But you might also want to consider creating a strategy around advertising on social media.

Specifically, try to drive traffic to pages that you want to rank better.

After all, the more traffic you receive to a page, the better Google will rank it. And social media ads can pour a bit of fuel on the fire of your already-remarkable link building and social media strategy.

Here is the timeline you can expect:

  • Week 1: Establishing a strategy: Creating your game plan for social media posting on each channel + any supplementary ads and the budget you will need to set aside.
  • Week 2: Execution: Start putting your strategy into place!
  • Week 3+: Impact: After week three, you should see compounding effects. LIkely, social shares and traffic to your shared content will increase, thereby increasing your chances of building links and authority to those pages.

Pay Attention to Anchor Text 

Backlinks aren’t all created equal. Loads of different factors affect how prominently a backlink will impact your SEO.

Link relevancy, where the link leads, where it’s located on the page, the authority and trust of the domain, the anchor text used, and more can influence the value of a backlink.

The anchor text refers to the words used to link back to a website. Studies still show anchor text is highly relevant, however, it’s also one of the main factors that can lead to penalties when exact match anchors are overused.

When you get anchor text links, it gives context to what the page that you’re linking to is about.

In fact, 84% of position one Google results have at least one keyword anchor leading to their page.

Often, striving for relevant anchor text is a simple change you can make that can have a potentially massive impact.

So it’s well worth your time and money to try and acquire not just remarkable backlinks but appropriate anchor text for those backlinks as well.

Here is the typical timeline you can expect with this method:

Week 1: The week after acquisition 

Monitoring your brand mentions and links is critical. You should be doing this weekly with a tool like Mention. Why? Because you likely are getting backlinks that you don’t know about. And for an anchor text-focused strategy, it relies on already acquired links. 

Week one starts directly after acquiring a link. In the first week, you need to make contact with the site that gave you a link. If their anchor text is “click here” or “image source,” kindly ask them to modify it.

Weeks 2-4: Await a response 

From here on out, it’s simply a waiting game. Send follow-up emails, but don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond. Don’t pester them into removing your link. Give it two to three emails and then move on.

Concluding Thoughts: How to Rank Fast in Google

You shouldn’t invest in SEO if you aren’t prepared for a long-term investment. Yet, there are still ways to speed up the process, such as the techniques listed in this article. 

Not all techniques are equal in terms of speed, but if you combine them all – you’ll enjoy steady results from your SEO efforts.

If you’re too busy to handle the SEO at your company, don’t wait to try out HOTH X – our fully-managed SEO services, which include quick wins to hold you over. Please don’t wait to schedule a call to speak with our expert consultants. 


Clayton Johnson is the CMO of The HOTH SEO company. He has over 8+ years experience in the SEO industry and has spoken at events like SEJ Summit. The HOTH has been featured in Inc 5000, Forbes, SMX, Pubcon, Content Marketing World, Affiliate Summit, Brighton and more.

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