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SEO Case Study: How to Rank in the First 2 Results on Google


Ranking on the first page of Google transforms your business.

There are 3.5 billion searches made on Google everyday, and you NEED to capture the huge amount of organic search traffic from Google, to grow your online visibility and more traffic means more money.

In this post, I will share with you 5 essential steps to optimize your blog posts to rank in the first #2 results on Google.

This was the same process I used to rank my article on the first page of Google (with almost 1 million competing pages!).


#1. Target Medium Tail Keywords

Medium tail keywords are 2-3 word search phrases that have significant search volume and have medium conversion potential.

Let’s break this down further into what that means:

  • 2-3 word search phrases are like “easy vegan diets”, “cheap bali travel”, “fitness for women”
  • significant search volume means that keyword phrase have at least 1k-10k in monthly searches
  • medium conversion potential means that keyword has a specific intent, particularly an intent to take action


Why target medium tail keywords?

Because medium tail keywords are easy to rank for, and can drive huge search traffic to your site.

Remember that when choosing keywords to target, these two metrics matter the most: conversion potential and search volume.

Conversion potential is important because you want to attract traffic that is qualified.

  • A person searching for “travel” is not very sure what he’s looking for.
  • However, a person searching for “travel to bali” has a much clearer intent and if you can capture that qualified search traffic — you are attracting users who are likely to become leads and potential customers.


Search volume is important because you want to pursue keywords that will give you a good ROI. 

  • Should you target long-tail keywords and rank for “travel to seminyak for under $100”? Not quite. Because that is too specific and there’s not enough search demand to be worth pursuing. (i.e how many people would actually search for something so specific?!)
  • But going too generic is not ideal either, if your target keyword is “travel” which has over 1M monthly searches, that is an insane amount of traffic that can grow your blog, sure.
  • But only if you can capture that traffic by ranking in the first 3 results on Google. However, chances are slim to none. Why? Because you are vying for that coveted position with millions of other websites, some are likely to be big players in the travel niche. (i.e, how likely is it to outrank expedia and wikipedia? Hmmm…very unlikely.)
  • Pick your battles and target keywords that are not too competitive but still have sufficient search demand to give you a good return on those rankings: medium tail keywords.

travel seed keyword competitive

So when I was thinking of keywords to target for my article, I specifically picked a medium-tail keyword that had at least 1k monthly searches and were 2-3 word search terms, indicating clear intent and conversion potential.

Medium tail keywords can give you a good ROI on your traffic gains + not too difficult to rank for. Voila!

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

Google’s predictive search feature is a super under-utilized part of SEO.

When we think about keyword research, immediately we think Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, SEMrush and more fancy tools, right?

Totally fine.

That’s how serious marketers do keyword research. But sometimes the best things are just right under our noses, and the most effective solutions are the simplest.

I absolutely looooove Google’s predictive search because the keyword suggestions are from Google themselves.

It’s an aggregate of the most popular keyword searches based on your seed keywords, which you typed initially.

seo google predictive search

It is seriously a GOLDMINE of content topics. Woohooo!

#3. Make sure your target keyword is in the title and first paragraph

This is a must. Your title is the most prominent part of your page on the search result.

Think about it, there are only 3 things about your page on the search result: title, URL, meta description.

serp results SEO

How to optimize your title for SEO:

  • Include your target keyword in the title, preferably near the beginning
  • Keep your title under 70 characters long
  • Add numbers and power words to make your title enticing, the goal of a great title is to get clicks.

Related: 7 Elements of a Perfectly SEO Optimized Blog Post (+checklist).

How to optimize your first paragraph with your target keyword:

First, always include the exact-match keyword you want to target in the first paragraph.

If you want to rank for “travel to bali”, include that exact phrase in your paragraph text.

Second, optimize your first paragraph with related keywords.

As you can see, I enhanced my paragraph with several keywords related to “SEO keywords”.

This helps build a semantic relationship around the topic of “SEO keywords”, which improves the contextual relevance of my content.

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

In my flagship course, SEO Demystified, we will dive deeper into SEO Copywriting and Semantic Search. The secret to writing content that ranks well on Google!

#4. Create in-depth content that builds around your keyword topic

To rank well on search engines, you need to create great content.

But you know that already.

Specifically, content needs to be comprehensive (at least 800 words) and is built around a keyword topic.

You want to pick a focused angle for your article, and then go deep.

A focused content angle has a clear promised benefit:

  • “How to make money blogging in 3 months”
  • 7 headline hacks to improve your click through rate”
  • The beginner’s guide to starting a vegan diet”

It is specific and targets a single issue that your article promises to solve.

How to go deep and create long-form content:

Ask yourself, “can this article answer every single question about topic X?”

Creating long-form content has often been touted as the holy grail of content marketing.

But why?

Why does an article with 3,000 words do better than an article with 800 words?

To be honest, I don’t think it is a numbers game. Quality is more important than quantity, always.

But are you able to cover a topic comprehensively enough with 800 words? If yes, fantastic. Answering the searcher intent is always the goal of any content piece.

Though having more words and content on a single article can help you rank for thousands of related keywords, and build a strong thematic relationship around your keyword topic.

And that will boost your chances to rank higher on search engines.

Related: SEO Blueprint: How to Get Your First 10k Visits from Google.

#5. Promote and optimize your article for shareability

Content that is not shared, is not seen.

A movie no matter how amazing in its plot and cinematography, does not exist without a distribution deal.

Content no matter how great — will be pointless without visibility.

First, get social.

If you are on Wordpress, download the free Social Warfare plugin.

This will add social sharing buttons and stats on every page on your site. Plus, the floating sidebar is great to encourage people to share your articles!


Next, promote your articles in Facebook groups.

I’ve gotten tremendous results using Facebook Groups to get more visibility on my content and also snag a few freelance gigs.

facebook opportunity seo

Make sure you are following the group admin’s rules and posting your articles on designated threads.

Be helpful first, promotional second.

I usually don’t post my own articles until helping others out by answering their questions pro bono for a week.

Warm up to the community and slowly promote your content. Small steps reap huge rewards in the long-run, my friends!

Oh, and we have a wonderful Facebook Group: SEO Traffic Growth Mastermind. Click here to join us!

Second, reach out to everyone you have mentioned in your article.

Reach out to everyone you have mentioned in your article.

Let them know you mentioned their advice or linked out to their resource. Most people would be thrilled to hear you’ve featured them and would be happy to check your piece out.

The key here is to be subtle and make this about THEM.

Don’t ask for a link, don’t ask for a share.

Ask for feedback. Try this email outreach template:

Hey {name}, 

I’m {your name} from {your blog/company} and I recently wrote a piece on {link to article} and featured your opinion about {topic}.

I was wondering if you could check it out and let me know your thoughts, as you’d probably know the subject matter more than me. 

Thank you!

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post


Author: Leanne Wong

Leanne Wong has taught over 5,600+ entrepreneurs and bloggers how to successfully market and grow their business online. 

Join 5,600+ others and receive full access to:

Leanne’s free digital marketing resource library: A growing collection of ebooks, checklists, strategy workbooks to accelerate your blog’s growth.

68 People reacted on this

  1. After I read this article, it is true using intermediate keywords provides ROI and it is easy to log in to page one of Google. I used to use long tail keywords. But my blog visitors are still very minimal. Because the average visitor uses only 3 to 4 words in doing a search on Google. Thanks for the knowledge. I’ll reread your article again. While I bookmark your site. Thanks.

  2. Your post is really helpful and informative regarding SEO ( ON & OFF page ). I have noticed some points and i would surely consider them while doing SEO of my next blog. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and research.

  3. All the tips you specify are very useful, yes, of course, On-Page SEO is 80% of the Whole SEO process so if your content is powerful and quality content and as you mentioned the placement of keywords in title and meta description are very important to rank in SERP.
    So you will rank more easily in the search engine if you focus on on-site SEO

  4. “Answering the searcher intent is always the goal of any content piece.” You hit the nail on the head with this. With AI and RankBrain understanding the intention of a search is critical for ranking. As crazy as it sounds, ranking has little to do with keywords but rather proving that a web page is the best solution to a query and satisfying the users intent. And… your bootcamp looks interesting.

    1. Yeap, they key to great content is really knowing the searcher intent and why they were looking for information. Glad you enjoyed the article, Dan! Hope to see in the Bootcamp.

    1. You are so kind, Nilakshi! Keep pushing onwards, my friend! SEO is certainly not the easiest subject, but with time and practice, it will pay off and results will come. So glad that my articles have been helpful for you 🙂

  5. Excellent, detailed post! I received some advice once that if you’re a new blogger, you should focus primarily on keywords that have a QSR (number of competing websites with same keyword) of less than 100 if you want to have any hopes of ranking on Google’s first page. Problem is, these keywords (which are very specific) all have very low monthly searches, 200 at most. I’ve had my blog since March and quite frankly, my traffic sucks. So I’m curious what your thoughts are on this strategy. I wanted to be scientific in my approach and not all over the place when it came to SEO, but I’m thinking maybe I should try a new strategy!

    1. Hi Kate, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Indeed, targeting very specific keywords (long-tail) with too little search volume may not be the best idea. Because search demand is too low, traffic potential will be low as well. My advice would be to target medium tail keywords (2-3 words phrases) with at least 1k-10k in monthly searches. This ascertains the keywords you’re pursuing will have significant ROI. You can get this data from Google’s Free Keyword Planner tool, which is great for brainstorming relevant keyword ideas in your niche. 🙂

      p.s Coincidentally, I am running a free 4 Day SEO Bootcamp that dives really deep into this topic! Would love for you to sign up and bounce off ideas together: https://www.leannewong.co/seo-for-beginners-bootcamp/

  6. great stuff.people obviously tries to be on 1st or 2nd position on SERP. but few people doesn’t how to increase the keyword position. i am sure it helps them a lot. nice post on seo.

  7. I’m so glad SEO has evolved since the early days. As a writer, I always struggled with using Keywords that didn’t make much grammatical sense. WIth longtail keywords, I find it’s easier to make my posts rank and flow better.

    1. Absolutely! Actually long-tail keywords target a more specific searcher intent and you’re attracting people who have a much clearer intent — more qualified traffic to your site. 😀

  8. This post is super helpful and comprehensive. Thank you! There are several suggestions that I need to apply asap. Targeting Medium Tail Keywords is so important, and I need to prioritize this for SEO purposes. I appreciate this informative article!

    1. So happy to hear this article was useful for you, Aarika! Yup targeting the right keywords can make ALL the difference in ranking on Google!

    1. Aww thank you so much for your kind words, Bridget! Sooo happy your enjoyed the article, let me know if you have any questions along the way, my dear!

  9. What a great SEO read! Thank you so much for sharing such awesome information! I knew about seed words and long-tail keywords, but never about medium-tail keywords. I’m going to put your advice into use!

  10. Great tips! I love using Google Keyword Planner and AHREFS for keyword research to figure out the best keywords for each of my posts.

  11. Omg these tips are super helpful! I realize I wasn’t paying as much attention to SEO as I should have. The tip about using Medium tail keywords is especially helpful. I am definitely going to try and do that. Thank you! <3

  12. Wow! Such great information. I hadn’t really thought it through about the difference between short, medium, and long tail keywords so this was very helpful! Great tip about predictive text too, thanks!

  13. This is a great, comprehensive post for optimizing SEO to rank on Google’s first page. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made as a newbie blogger was focusing on social media traffic and not learning about SEO until way later! However, once I started implementing SEO techniques like the ones you described, Google rewarded me with several front page posts and snippet features and my traffic exploded! It’s so important!

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