My Secret Sauce Recipe for Top Rankings: What to do Before, During and After Writing your Content

I just recently published a series of training at Wealthy Affiliate University and the members there loved it! So here is a really meaty post which will show you how to get top Google ranking!

You can also update your old content using this method and stand a really good chance of ranking old posts that didn’t rank well.

Please note that I may use terms here that you are unfamiliar with, if I go into detail with everything this will land up being a book… so if you are confused by anything here please ask a question in the comments at the end and I will answer you as soon as possible.

How to Get Top Google Ranking

This will take you through what to do before you write a word, what to focus on while you are writing and what you should be doing after you have published your content. This is going to be a lot of information and initially it may take you a long time to complete… BUT I can promise you that if you do this step by step and not leave anything out your rankings will increase dramatically.

I actually have these points in my little black book as checklists and every time I publish new content I tick them off as I go. I suggest you do the same.

step by step guide to top rankings

Phase One: What to Do Before You Write A Word

So just to explain here quickly that what you do before you write is really the most important step in this process. If you spend a whole day writing an amazing piece of content… but it doesn’t get ranked at all then it may as well not even exist right? So make sure that you put some effort in before hand. It may seem tedious, it may bore you to tears and it may seem silly… but please trust me on this.

This is a crucial step and very often overlook.

Content Topic and Plan

So what are you going to write about and why? You might have a great idea of what you want to write about and why. There are different reasons for writing a specific piece of content. Make sure you know why you want to write this specific post.

Here are some ways to come up with topics:

  • Your readers have asked for more information on a topic
  • It is a vital piece of information very relevant to your niche that you want to share
  • It is closely related to another topic that went viral or was incredibly popular
  • It is trending, it is the latest news or update

1.1 Write down what you think you are going to write about and all the points you want to cover. 

Yes I did say what you think you are going to be writing about, you will see what I mean later!

1.2 Do Keyword Research, Alphabet Soup and Check Google Trends

Essential to this step is a really good keyword tool. Yes you can use Google Keyword Planner and other free tools… BUT there is a big difference spending an hour on the planning and research phase or all day. If you just can’t afford a keyword tool, you will have to make do with free tools. However if you can spare the money I urge you to use a paid tool, trust me on this, it will save you so much time!

Check my review of Jaaxy, this is the best keyword research tool you will find and the best value for money.

If you’ve been using a free tool, just try out your 30 free searches in Jaaxy and see what I mean!

Click here if you are not sure how to do keyword research.

Your mission here is to check the main topic and each point you want to cover. Find a main keyword and some secondary keywords for each point you want to cover. Check your topic and your points in Google Trends. There is no point in writing about a subject that has no interest in it, or that is a dying trend right?

1.3 Check what your competitors are writing about

Search those keywords you have researched and have a quick look to see what your competitors are writing about and how long their posts are. And no, I have been asked this loads of times, you are not going to write about what your competitors are writing about… you are just checking out the lay of the land and seeing what you could be up against.

1.4 Choose Your Main Keyword and Secondary Keywords

Yes we have done this already, but the point here is that you may be writing down exactly the same things you did in point 1.1 OR you might be on a completely different tangent. You may have found that your readers have no interest in what you were going to write about, but another related topic is incredibly popular and trending. I have often found that what I planned to write and what I end up writing are completely different.

If your topic and main points are completely different you may need to redo your keyword research again too, I usually do at this point.

Choose a few options for your main keyword and for your secondary keywords.

1.5 Do Keyword Competitor Analysis

So now you have some keywords that look incredible and they look really easy to rank right?

Keyword Competitor Analysis

Well maybe and maybe not. Think about this, if you don’t rank on page 1 for some of your keywords you may as well not exist right? So you’ve got a nice keyword that has 300 traffic a month and only 20 competition, so this looks great!

What if the top 15 are such strong competitors you will never ever outrank them? Then you may as well not write your post! So here’s what you need to look at and how you go about this step.

Firstly scan page 1 for these types of sites:

  1. Are there any e-commerce sites? E-commerce sites are just hard to outrank. Fact.
  2. Are there any social sites? Facebook? Youtube Video? If there are you can jump for joy!
  3. Are there review sites? Yes, great! There is a good chance you can outrank them.

So now you have an idea of the competition on page we’ll look even deeper. I suggest you use an excel spreadsheet for each keyword and analyse the competition.

Here are the points you want to check:

  1. Is the keyword in the URL?
  2. Is the keyword in the meta title?
  3. Is the keyword in the meta description?
  4. What is the page authority
  5. What is the domain authority
  6. How many external backlinks does this post have? How strong are these backlinks?
  7. Is this a weak URL?
  8. Is this a weak domain?

You can use Moz to check the page and domain authority as well as external backlinks.

1.6 Make a Final Decision on your Main Keyword and Secondary Keywords

Now you have everything set out in front of you and you should be able to have a very good idea of how you weigh up against the competition. So the thing here is to rather choose a keyword that you have a very high chance of ranking for that has only 5 traffic a month rather than risk going for a keyword that has incredibly strong competition with 300 traffic a month.

I’m not sure about you but I would rather have 5 sure visitors a month than risk wasting hours of my time writing a post that will never get the 3o0 visitors I want.

I usually choose one main keyword and then maybe two secondary keywords.

1.7 Find Relevant Images for Your Post

Find or prepare an image for each keyword. These must be nice images that will be shareable and catch the eye. You’ll understand why in the next step when you write your content.

1.8 Find or make a Youtube video for your post

If you can make your own Youtube video for your post this will be first prize. Of course realistically you probably won’t be able to make your own video for every post you publish. You can just go onto Youtube and search around for a great video that is relevant to your content.

video marketing

Make sure this video doesn’t have affiliate links, you want your readers to click on your affiliate links not someone else’s right?

Ok so it must feel like this step took forever, it sure did for me the first time I did this! I thought geez when can I start writing…. here we go, that comes up now in the next phase.

Phase Two: How to Write Your Content (That Ranks)

So this is the part that you’ve been waiting for and a lot of people just write their content without researching any keywords or doing any competitor analysis… and very often just write their content without any thought to what will help them rank it.

Yes content that is original can rank,… but here are the steps to take that will ensure that your content ranks (along with phase 1 and 3 in this post of course).

2.1 Write a Captivating Headline

Ok so you’ve heard your keyword should be in your title right? Well not necessarily this title. The title that counts for SEO is your meta title. I prefer to write something captivating and interesting here, simply because this is what your readers will see on your website and will entice them to read your post. If your post is found but not clicked on what is the point?

I also like to make this different to my main keyword because you will need to put your main keyword in a few key places, if you make this your keyword it will look repetitive. You will see what I mean soon.

2.2 Make your URL your Main Keyword

WordPress will automatically make your post title your url, so go and change your url to your main keyword and save it as a draft.

2.3  Write your Introduction and include your Main Keyword as soon as possible.

2.4 Add Your Main Keyword and Secondary Keywords to Headings and Plot Out Your Post

2.5 Write Your Content Naturally

It probably feels like a marathon until now, but now you can write your post. This is where you must completely forget about SEO and just write for your readers, don’t worry about anything but being yourself and engaging with your audience.

Remember that people read content, people engage with content and people buy things… so write for people.

The only thing I would say to focus on and practice here is to write in short sentences and short paragraphs. Use headings to break up your post. This makes it easy to read and if a reader wants to, easy to scan.

Try and make your post length at least 1000 words. Longer posts have more chance of ranking for keywords that you never planned for, giving you a nice surprise.

The more you write the easier it will become to write long posts. Don’t worry too much if you are new to content writing, you will get there with practice and you can always come back in the future and update your post. Getting comments and engagement on posts can also add to the length (more about this later).

EliteWriter Content Writing Services

2.6 Add your Main Keyword at the end of Your Post

2.7 Add Your Call To Action (CTA)

Not sure what a call to action is? Very simply put it is whatever you want your reader to do. What is the whole aim of this post? Have one goal for each post and make sure it is added at the end of your post.

You may want readers to subscribe to your newsletter, or sign up for a program or maybe just read another post you have written? So add that in, tell your readers clearly what you would like them to do.

Don’t forget to leave this out, I’ve done that a few times and it really is painful when you realize that all the traffic that came to your post until you remembered to add it in lost out on that CTA!

Add your call to action

2.8 Add Your Images and Alt Tags with Keywords

Add the images you prepared in Phase One and remember to add your keywords in the alt tags. Every single image on your website should have an alt description. This is great for SEO juice and very often overlooked.

Make sure your Main Keyword is in your featured image.

Another great thing about images is that people are visual creatures we love images. It makes it interesting and eye-catching.

Images are also very shareable, think about Pinterest!

2.9 Embed a Youtube Video

Posts with Youtube videos rank better and convert better.

If you have made your own Youtube video you also have more exposure than with just a post because your video can rank on Youtube and also in search engines giving you a much greater boost than if you use someone else’s video.

2.10 Add your Meta Title, Meta Description and Keywords into your SEO Plugin

A vital step is now to add your Main Keyword to your meta title and description. If you can add in one or more of your secondary keywords in anywhere here too that is great.. just make sure it looks good.

This section is how you are telling the search engines to show your post when it shows up in searches. So when someone searches online this is how you will appear. Once again focus on adding your keywords in the right places, but keep in mind that people click links not Google!

It is important to get ranked, but if your post doesn’t look appealing and nobody clicks it is pointless isn’t it? So spend some time getting this right.

2.11 Add Tags and Categories to your Post

This will not only help your readers move around your website and find new relevant content, it will also help search engines to rank your content.

2.12 Add Internal and External Links

Read through your post and see where you can link to other relevant content on your website.

Add at least one high authority external link. Try go for a really high authority website like Wikipedia. If you link to a low quality website this could impact your ranking negatively!

2.13 One Last Check

This is another vital step which you should not skip. Please check your post before clicking Publish! The most important thing in my opinion is to double check your url is correct. This is the one thing you should never change after publishing!

But do a quick check over your entire post. Make sure all the links are working, make sure you check it in preview to see it is all formatted ok and looks good… are all the images showing correctly?

I published a post a while back and made a typo in my post headline… oh that hurt when someone contacted me (thank you!) and told me so I was made aware and could change it. Thankfully my url was fine but this was a headline! Ouch, how bad is that?

Yes everyone makes mistakes and yes I make typo’s… but in my title?

2.14 Publish Your Post… if you have another Hour to do the Phase Three!

If you’ve completed your post and want to click publish just make sure you have another hour or so to do some vital things immediately. If you don’t have the time then rather save it as a draft and publish it when you have a little bit of time to do Phase Three!

Phase Three: What to do Immediately After Publishing Content

You’ve come this far and put so much work into your content, so make sure to follow this checklist and give your post the best possible chance of ranking. What you do now can truly make a big difference.

3.1 Internal Linking

Go to old content and add links to your new post where relevant. You can also add your new post to a menu for greater visibility if needed.

3.2 Share on Reddit

Find a relevant Reddit and share your content. Just be careful here because Reddit is very much against “self promotion” and if you are a newbie to Reddit some of the older members can quite frankly be very unforgiving of a newcomer posting their own content! I know because I was flame grilled about 2 years ago and it was very unpleasant.

The thing with Reddit is to really get involved with the community and not just use it as a place to self promote yourself. Spend a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with this social network. Each sub Reddit has its own rules and regulations. Very often you are not allowed to post your own content at all!

Here is a sub reddit that I am going to try out today, it looks safe to post in! I’m going to send this post there and see what happens. If I get flame grilled I’ll let you know. I suggest you carefully read what the reddit is about and whether you can post your own content before going ahead.

Just keep in mind that nobody likes being spammed and nobody likes going to a social network that is just spammed. And if you spam Reddit you will feel it!

Then once you have added your link to Reddit copy the url for the next step… to follow.

Leave a comment on your Reddit link by clicking on “formatting” and changing the info to your post title and your url and save it.

Check here for a reliable SEO freelancer that will share your link on Reddit for just $1 saving you the effort of having to network on Reddit.

3.3 Share Your Reddit Link on Digg

Go to Digg and share your Reddit link, this is called a two tier link and gives extra juice!

3.4 Ping It

Pinging your link simply lets blogs and search engines know you have added new content. There are lots of places where you can ping your link for free. I use Pingoat, just add your link and click “check all” and ping it.

3.5 Make A Google Annotation

This is a note in your Google Analytics. Choose Audience Overview view and then under where your graph is there is a little down arrow, click on this and your saved annotations will come up. On the right hand side click on “Add new annotation” and you can then enter the date and some notes.

I just add in my url or I make some notes if I have done something like a paid campaign or maybe changed my theme or updated old content.

This is exceptionally useful for if you check back in a years time and see a spike or drop in traffic, you can then check to see what you did at that time.

3.6 Share on Social Networks

From my website I share my post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and LinkedIn. These are the 5 biggest social networks.

Don’t forget to also Pin your Youtube video to Pinterest if you have published your own video!

I write a short teaser and then share my post. After my teaser I add in a hashtag with my website, this adds a citation to my website which can also increase my ranks! So just add #yourwebsite.com to your social post.

I then share my post on my Facebook Page and also some relevant Facebook Groups.

I also use Tweet Jukebox which I love, so I add my new post to my Tweet Jukebox too.

If you have started with email marketing but haven’t set up a blog broadcast then send it out via newsletter too. If you haven’t started with email marketing I suggest you get cracking, this is a massive part of online marketing!

3.7 Fetch As Google

I submit my url to Google to crawl. This is done in Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t set up your account with Google Webmaster Tools I suggest you get going immediately. Submitting your sitemap will also help your rankings!

3.8 Get Comments and Engagement

Ask people to comment and get engagement on your post. This is really important because not only does it add new content to your post, it also tells the search engines that readers enjoy your content!

It is also great for your readers to see that others are interacting with you.

Then I suggest you have a rest, because this process is now complete and you have worked really hard!

I hope that you have found this useful and that it helps you with ranking your content. If you have any questions on this post or have any ideas to add how to get top Google ranking please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this training then I suggest you sign up with Wealthy Affiliate University for the best step by step training you will ever find


Lynne Huysamen

Mommy to a pigeon pair, blogger and online marketer. Lover of chocolate, good books and buckets of coffee.


  1. Wow, thanks for the thorough article and all the advice on how to get top google rankings. I am really struggling with this with my website. I feel like I am doing all the right things, however, I must be missing something.

    I was not aware that posting on reddit could help my traffic. I also didn’t realize that there are sites such as pingoat. I am going to add this to my list of things to do when I am publishing an article.

    I did have one question though, you mention making sure that the keyword is in the meta title. I keep hearing different things about this. I have heard many top bloggers say that this is no longer important as the title should be catchy, something to get a reader to click. If this is the case, it isn’t always possible to include the keyword. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Hi Tanja

      Great question! This is something that I think catches people all the time. Yes having your keyword in all the right places is great… but then again it is not easy to add your keyword naturally in all these places. It is also not easy to add a long tail keyword into your meta title at all. Then to also make it catchy so people click… this takes some skill and you can work on this over time.

      If you can include your keyword AND have a great catchy title, this is awesome. If you can’t get it right then go with having a catchy title. You can also rank for slightly different variations of the same keyword phrase so if you can have something similar in your meta title that is natural go for it.

  2. This is such an informing post about how to get rank.

    It is actually not that simple to get ranked, it’s usually a shoot for the chance. But it usually works out.

    I follow some easy simple steps and till now i have several posts ranked on page 1 and they’re bringing not much but consistent traffic. It’s a long hard road but the results will be awesome.

    • Hi Tyler

      Yes some people make it out to be so simple, but there are so many factors that come into ranking. Even following all the suggestions won’t guarantee great rankings every time but as a general rule these pointers work well!

  3. Wow great piece of info Lynne. Thanks. I’m looking for to see your training on WA. I took note of all the points you bring here.

  4. Hi Lynne.
    I’ve been regularly blogging for over a year and have picked up quite a bit about SEO and getting ranked – but you have covered ground here that I wasn’t aware of at all. Sure, I had the basic stuff and thought I was doing okay but this article has been a real eye-opener.
    I think it’s time to review my SEO checklist ! !
    Great work and thanks.

    • Hi Eoin
      I’m glad I could add some more items to your checklist :) I hope it makes a massive difference to your rankings.

  5. I like your advice for starting up a business that performs online. That is smart to look at what competitors are doing so that your products look just as appealing to customers. I like your tip about making sure to do keyword research help your online business get seen.

    • Hi Tara

      Thanks for visiting. This is really an essential part of content marketing. If you are not following these steps or something similar you just can’t compete online!

    • Hi Lauren

      I’m glad I could help you with more tricks and tips to help you with your online journey Lauren!

  6. Great post!!! Thanks Lynne! I will definitely come back for to search some more advise from your website!

  7. Keyword research is definitely a big part of the key to success when ranking in Google. If you look, it is usually possible to find some great low competition long tail keywords. I like your tips about assessing the quality of the competition on page 1 for your keyword. It makes sense to take a look at those and see whether you think you can outrank them. I have to confess, this is something that I have usually not bothered to do. Saying that, though, I often try to find keywords with really low QSR, like below 10 if possible.

    Images are definitely great to add to your content. They brighten up the page, and also help to break up the content so that it’s not just one big wall of text.

    • Hi Marcus

      Yes I also try and go for under 10 because it the content is good it is almost a done deal isn’t it? I still like to do competition analysis though because if there is only 10 competition I would like to be number 1 and not number 10!

  8. Hi Lynne

    Thank you so much for sharing this post.

    You have made it really simple to understand and appreciate the importance of each step. I am taking on board everything you have posted here to try an get my posts ranked better.

    Can I just ask what happens if you do change your url after you have published? I may have made this mistake!

    • Hi Dawn

      I am so glad to help you!

      Well if you just delete a post or change a url this means that if the post has been ranked it will create a broken link in the eyes of Google which is not good at all. If that url has been shared socially then backlinks to that url have been created which means you will have more broken links pointing to your website. Also if your url has been shared socially or perhaps even linked to from another website and someone clicks on that link it will come up as a 404 page not found. This is not a great user experience at all.

      There are lots of factors that go into how your website gets ranked and having broken links is not good at all for SEO purposes.

      If you want to change a url rather do a redirect to a new url.

  9. Hey Lynne,

    I try to update my content at least twice a year on my different post. Make sure you interlink your post more and more as time goes on too. It helps with the user experience. Usually, I do it July and December, but one good thing to do after you update your content is to actively engage with others and get more comments on your post. This kills to birds with one stone because it shows Google that the content is updated and shows even more engagement to your post.

    When researching your competitors I like to use Mozbar and check the page authority of the top 10 sites on Google. If they are below 25 page authority my eyes light up and I update my page to everything that is covered on the first page of Google.

    Sometimes on poor performing keywords I completely axe the post and then 301 redirect them. Post that don’t get many views really don’t help your SEO much.

  10. Lynne,
    I have a question??? My sites are ranked on Page 1 of Google. I try to write 3 times a week on each site. How do I check the traffic on these sites? Thank You in advance. Great Article! I am still confused about keywords?? But I guess I am doing O.K. if I am on Page 1.

    • Hi Connie

      Thanks for visiting.

      Great question. Although I think there is some confusion here. You rank for each individual keyword that you target, your website doesn’t rank #1 per say. You might not rank at all for some keywords and others might be on page 1.

      Adding new content 3 times a week is excellent. However you can write less often and make sure each post is great quality for your readers and follow all these guidelines for to rankings.

      Here is some more information on keyword research for you.

      To check your website traffic use Google Analytics. You can see how many people are finding you through online searches by looking at your organic traffic.

    • Hi Bree

      Yes I agree Clixsense is quite a nice way to make some extra pocket money online. However spamming my website with your link is just not nice at all, this is my website so I changed your affiliate link to mine.

      Spamming people’s websites is not the way to go about online marketing. If you would like to know how to become successful online try reading my posts instead of spamming them. You will learn a lot.

      Have a great day :)

  11. Hi Lynne,
    This is great, I’ve saved it and made my own checklist based on your article. I’d just like to clarify something,though. Do you submit the individual URL of each post to google webmaster or just the main URL of your website?

    Thank you for all you great posts.

    • Hi Jenny

      Lovely to see you here again, and it is a pleasure to be able to share what I know.

      You submit the url of your post not your main website url.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *