417 Marketing Blog

How To Rank Without Backlinks

When it comes to ranking a page for a particular keyword, it’s a generally accepted principle that building backlinks to that page (with at least some of them containing the keyword in the anchor text) is important. But I’d like to show you that is not necessarily the case. In this post, I’m going to show you how to rank without backlinks.

How To Rank Without Backlinks

This might seem like a tough challenge, but by the time you are done reading this post you will know how to rank without backlinks. Just follow the 11 rules below, wait a couple days, and I’m confident you will have success. I know we have!

IMPORTANT NOTE: To follow along, you’ll need to be using WordPress with the Yoast SEO plugin. If you aren’t using WordPress, I’m sorry. This post will probably still help, but not as much as if you were using WordPress.

Rule #1: Pick a focus keyword that doesn’t suck.

Make sure your focus keyword is one that people care about (I’ve chosen “how to rank without backlinks” for this page) and one that might generate some traffic to my website and enter it into the focus keyword field in the Yoast SEO plugin, as shown below.

how to rank without backlinks

Rule #2: Make sure that your content is worth reading.

If you don’t have anything valuable to say, it won’t matter that you know how to rank a page for a keyword. You want quality traffic, not people showing up and then “bouncing” off  your page. If I didn’t know how to rank without backlinks and start to demonstrate a knowledge of this by now, you wouldn’t still be reading.

Rule #3: Make sure your focus keyword is in the Title Tag (called “SEO Title” in the Yoast SEO Plugin).

Your title tag should be more than 40 characters but less than 70. Ideally, your focus keyword should be in the beginning of the Title Tag, not the end.

Rule #4: Add your focus keyword to your Meta Description.

Make sure your Meta Description is 156 characters or less. Do you best to make your Meta Description appealing, as a Google searcher will see it on the page of search results delivered to them. You want to pull the searcher in with a compelling Meta Description and get them to click on your listing. Here’s what I used for the Meta Description of this page:

“People assume they can’t rank a page without links, but it can be done. In this post, I give you 10 rules that will teach you how to rank without backlinks.”

OK…so I’m not Shakespeare. But I got “how to rank without backlinks” in there and it gets the job done.

Rule #5: Aim for a focus keyword density of between 1-3% on the page.

The Yoast SEO plugin will let you know exactly what your keyword density is.

how to rank without backlinks

Rule #6: Add at least one image to the page and make sure the focus keyword is the alt tag.

Adding images does not just give you another opportunity to get your focus keyword in the source code of the page. It breaks up the text and makes the page more visually appealing.

Rule #7: Include at least one outbound link (but no more than 2 in most cases) to a high-authority, high-trust domain other than your own.

In this article, I linked to the Yoast SEO Plugin home page. I often link to relevant pages in Wikipedia though.

Rule #8: Include the focus keyword in the first paragraph of your page copy.

You want to send the signal to Google and other search engines that your post is highly relevant for the focus keyword you’ve chosen. It’s hard to do that if you don’t mention it right off the bat.

Rule #9: Include the focus keyword in a header tag.

You’ll see this posts’ focus keyword in a H2 tag near the top of this page.

Rule #10: Write at least 300 words.

Preferably more than 500. Just make sure it isn’t filler content, or you’ll be breaking rule #2 above.

Rule #11: Establish Google Authorship!

This is pretty easy if you are using the Yoast SEO Plugin with WordPress. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Create a Google+ account.
  2. Add the domain of the site your are writing for in the “Links” or “Contributes To” section of your profile.
  3. Go into WordPress admin and navigate to Users –> All Users. Select your user profile.
  4. Add your Google+ page URL in the Google+ field.
  5. Make sure you are logged in to your user account when composing the page in WordPress (this will ensure you are credited as the author).

If you want to make sure you setup Google+ Authorship correctly, you can always test it with this tool.

google authorship success

Given the uncertain future of the trusty backlink as it relates to SEO, knowing how to rank without backlinks is a very valuable skill. If you’ve been doing SEO long enough to survive Panda and Penguin, you understand this all too well. While backlinks are still extremely important (and probably will be for at least several more years), it’s important that you learn to survive without them. That way, if the day comes that Google decides to stop using backlinks as a measure of authority and trust, you will be prepared.

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