It was September 16, 2013. No one expected it would turn out to be anything but another unremarkable day.

They were wrong.

In a quiet suburb in the south of Brisbane, the early morning sunlight peaked into the upstairs bedroom through a gap in the curtains, creating a dappled pattern of light and shadow on the wall opposite. It wasn’t much light at all, really, but it was enough to wake Emily up before her alarm went off. She’d never slept well when there was light around.

Yawning and stretching, she began weighing her options. Her bed was warm and the pillow was soft. Should she snuggle a teddy bear and pretend for a while that falling asleep again was a realistic notion? Or should she hurry up and hop in the shower before her house-mates beat her to it?

The sound of shuffling movement in the hallway below caught her attention. Was option two about to be ruled out? A few moments later, confirmation came: the downstairs bathroom door was closed and latched, and the shower was turned on. Clearly, showering wasn’t on the cards for the next little while.

After glancing at her teddy bear to ensure he didn’t feel neglected, Emily chose option three: boot up the computer and make a start on morning emails and other daily online tasks.

With a fairly new website recently launched into the webesphere, Emily’s daily tasks currently involved checking her search engine rankings for a collection of keywords (or, in other words, Googling herself). She knew that baby websites could take months to start ranking well for anything, but it was still worth keeping an eye on rankings just in case.

Opening a few tabs in her browser, Emily quickly typed a collection of different queries into Google. Her position for “Brisbane copywriter” was fairly steady, towards the top of the first page. Good. Considering how young her website was, it was surprising to find it on the first page at all. Then she checked the “Brisbane SEO copywriter” tab.

That’s when everything changed.

Emily blinked. Then blinked again. Perhaps she hadn’t woken up after all, and was still dreaming? Because if her eyes were telling the truth, then she had to believe that her website had just snatched the top spot on Google AU for a query she hadn’t expected to dominate for weeks, if not months. She was coming up as number one for “Brisbane SEO copywriter”!

Closing her eyes, Emily took a few slow, deep breaths. “Stay calm,” she told herself. “Stay calm”. It wouldn’t do to get too excited prematurely. The result could easily be a mistake – an algorithmic adjustment only she could see as a consequence of Google’s efforts to personalise search. But there was an easy way to check.

Turning to Moz, she quickly typed the keyword query into Rank Tracker, set the parameters to search Google Australia, took one final deep breath, and pressed “Get Ranking”. The twirly processing arrows began to spin.

And then suddenly, there it was.

#1.

In some ways, that’s the end of the story.

But it’s also where it all began…

How’d I do it?

So, how did I top Google Australia for the keyword query “Brisbane SEO copywriter” with my baby website? What SEO spells did I conjure? What ancient Mayan elixir did I use?

Targeting Easier Phrases

Well, for starters, I chose to target a query that wasn’t particularly competitive. It got traffic, but there weren’t actually that many SEO copywriters in Brisbane chasing the term at the time. And as every SEO knows, it’s easy to dominate an uncompetitive keyword phrase.

On-Page Keyword Optimisation

I also wrote my content specifically targeting the keyword phrase I wanted to rank for. I certainly didn’t stuff the page with keywords, but I was careful to sprinkle them in all the places they’re meant to be. Places like the title tag, and H1 heading, for instance. It’s simple stuff, but it’s effective.

No Links

One other thing I think it’s important to point out is that I dominated this term without any links. Content can trump links. In my experience, when a site is on the first page thanks to the strength of its links, but not its content, any site with better targeted content will outrank it.

But What About Personalised and Localised Search?

Google personalisation and localisation mess with search results all the time, meaning that the results I see in Brisbane for a particular search query will often be different to the results my brothers see in Hobart. This makes total keyword domination in 2014 a bit of an elusive dream.

However, in my experience, keyword searches that include a placename tend to be more consistent across different locations – probably because by adding the placename, you’re clearly signalling to Google the sort of localisation you want. So for this particular keyword phrase, my site consistently ranks no matter where you are when you perform a search.

You Can Do it Too

I honestly believe that by following the same steps I followed, your website can start to rank well for some of your chosen keyword phrases, too. By picking a phrase that’s less competitive but still attracts traffic, and by appropriately optimising your content for the keywords you’re targeting, your website will climb. And one day, you’ll wake up, Google yourself, and find your site on page one – just like I did.

Got questions, comments, thoughts, or stories of your own? I want to hear them! Share in the comments below. It will make me happy 🙂

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