How I reached number one in Google rankings.

Author David Lower   .   31 January 2019

In 2014 I built myself a professional website to attract more customers to my clinic. Within 6 months I reached number one in Google for my catchment area. Here is how I did it.

The website I built was in Wordpress using a paid theme called ‘Bridge’. I was building a website to rank for my business as an Osteopath (a medical therapy/treatment). Here are the screenshots I took back in the day to record my achievement.

Keyword research and website structuring

I didn’t immediately jump into Wordpress or design. But instead, I grabbed my pen and paper and started to think about the site’s structure.

Early into my research, I kept reading over and over the importance of ‘keywords’.

So my first task was to decide what keywords I wanted to rank for and who were my competitors. I highlighted about 4-7 competitors locally. I also made a list of ‘keywords’ and also ‘keyword phrases’. I used about 7-10 tools for this - but only one really settled with reliable results. Longtail pro.

From memory these were my keywords:

What is Osteopathy?
What is an Osteopath?
Visceral Osteopathy.
Cranial Osteopathy.
What does an Osteopath treat?
Visiting an Osteopath.

Based on these keywords I decided to create a page dedicated specifically to each keyword so that each page ranked for each keyword. You will also notice that each keyword phrase overlaps with the next, maintaining a similar content theme throughout the website.

So my homepage ranked for my number one keyword, which was ‘What is Osteopathy?’.
‘Visiting an Osteopath’ became a FAQ page where I tried to make each question evolve around the keyword phrase.
‘What does an Osteopath treat?’ became a treatment page, listing all the types of conditions I could potentially treat. And so on…

I think it is important to add here. I was not put off by the fact that some of the keywords I went for were hugely competitive (meaning I would struggle to rank for them). I just went for them because that is what I needed and wanted to rank for.

Content creation

Once I had the structure I then had to carefully and thoughtfully create the content for each page. Each page had to rank for each specific phrase.

Headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc

The first title of any page is called your heading 1 or <H1>. This is a huge SEO marker and you only get 1 per page.

It goes without saying the <h1> heading should be your keyword phrase or contain your keyword phrase.

Let me repeat that again. You can only have one per page. So many people think they can fill the page with multiple <h1> tags. WRONG. If you have more, Google will penalize you.

After your <h1> heading, the natural order goes to heading <h2>. These are designed to be your sub-headings. Be careful to not overuse keyword phrases in every <h2> heading (multiple are allowed). Have some <h2> headings that match keywords and others that have a similar idea or theme to the keyword.

<h3> is the next heading level and it goes all the way to <h6>. You will rarely go beyond <h3> but it does happen.

Remember just stuffing your page with as many keywords as you can is not the point. You can damage the page's reputation and readability. You need to craft a meaningful page, that makes sense to the user.

However, don't stray too far from the phrase and don't be shy to repeat it every now and then. It is a fine balancing act.

Google PageSpeed insight

At this point I do generally believe I had performed probably the hardest and most difficult part of the entire SEO journey. I can’t stress enough the importance of the previous phases up to this point. This gave me such a good foundation.

Google PageSpeed insight was the primary tool that I centralised all my testing and progression around once I started building my website. I wanted to get 100% and since it was Google’s official testing benchmark it made sense to maximise performance according to their criteria.

For a long time I did consider writing and going in-depth on how I managed to get a good Google PageSpeed score, but to be honest there are far better articles out there, like this one - How to optimize your page speed.

But like I say, I did spend a lot of time researching and prioritising my Google PageSpeed score. This was a big factor and actually quite difficult to achieve in the confines of a ridged Wordpress framework I didn’t know how to edit.

GTmetrix was the other tool I used a lot.

Here are my PageSpeed scores for this website just to show it is possible and achievable. I, unfortunately, do not have originals from the Wordpress site I built.

Pay for good hosting

I actually upgraded my hosting server to a private individual one with my own dedicated SSD drive. This was one area that caused a gapping hole in my pursuit for a perfect Google PageSpeed score. Ultimately this DID improve the speed of my website significantly, though it did cost me $35 per month.

The point here is it does pay to have good hosting. If your are tight and are only willing to spend $7 per month then be prepared for the fact you will get shoddy speeds. No matter how perfect your website is, if your hoster delivers the end website to your potential customers at sloth speeds. Your website WILL load slowly. You can not do anything about it.

Google penalises slow websites massively. So I would recommend increasing your budget a little so that all your hard work is not screwed up but a slow server.

Needless to say. If Google penalises you - you will suffer in your endeavors for good SEO ranking.

KnownHost were the hosting provider I used and I couldn’t fault them.

Now I am not a huge expert on this particular part of SEO. But in essence, Google uses backlinks to further shape and understand the nature of your website as well as determining the quality and authority of your site.

backlinks are where other websites in the world link to yours for whatever reason. So for example, if a medical website (Chiropractor, massage therapist) linked to my website, Google would see this and increase my authority. That link would tell Google, this website is medical and other established websites are linking to it.

Google likes this. Google feels safe that my website is not some piece of junk, but is worth crawling. Remember it is in Google’s interest to serve up top quality content in its search engine.

Can you imagine if Google kept serving up rubbish when you searched it for different topics? As a search engine, it wouldn’t last long. So Google is trying hard to find solid, reliable websites they can serve content from. Backlinks serve that purpose in creating a clear picture to Google.

I was fortunate with my backlinks because the clinic I worked at had a mini piece on me and my website - linking to my profile. So we both gave good backlinks to each other. I also had some other friends in the industry share my link on their website. Not a huge number mind (2-3 max).

Keeping an active website with regular traffic.

Google will, unfortunately, penalise you again if your website stays inactive or doesn’t change much. So the notion you can set up your website and leave it to serve its purpose is unfortunately the very thing that will kill it.

Once your website is all up and running, what is the plan to make it active, to change it? How will you get people to visit it and force Google to keep crawling it?

This was one question I thought long and hard about and eventually came up with an ingenious idea.

Twitter feed

Firstly I had my twitter feed on my website. So every time I posted a tweet it would show up on my website. This meant my website was regularly changing.

Online forms

Second I decided to put my medical case history intake form online. I wanted my patients to be able to fill it out prior to their appointment (so we didn’t waste time at the appointment). It also gave my patients time to reflect over their conditions and recall important information.

However, I used this process to drive traffic to my website. So for every new patient I had, they had to visit my site and fill out the medical form online, on my website. Meaning they spent time on it and also visited it.

Online articles

I also used my website as a reference tool. So I would write articles on certain food items I thought beneficial or treatment protocols. I would then copy those links into emails and send them to my patients as homework to read (of course the drive hear was mostly for their betterment) but the fact it made them come to my website was a win-win.

In addition, I also wrote articles on what to expect at treatments, how to prepare and what to do after treatment. Again this was sent as an email to my new patients before they even came to see me. So another entry for visiting my site.

So in short not only was I creating an excellent service for my patients (cutting edge at the time), I was allowing that journey to go through my central portal - my website. This meant frequent traffic and frequent change.

Needless to say, my patients would also share the site as a point of reference to their friends and family.

In other words, my website really did become a pivotal part of my clinic and an important place for information. Bonus that it generated new patients and new customers for me.

So ask yourself - is your website going to be a simple extension of your brand or is it going to work for you as well?

Summary

So in short, I honestly think the combination of many hours of planning and getting the content structure solid as well as the work I put into driving traffic to my website - meant I scored highly in Google’s eyes.

This was ultimately what I believe enabled me to reach number one in Google within 6 months. Just the build component of the website is not enough. Plan, and plan some more on what to do beforehand and afterward. That is what will see you achieve victory.

I overtook ALL my competitors, some of which had been established for decades - yes decades. I even ranked number two for my neighboring city. All within 6 months.

It was a monumental achievement. In fact, it was so impacting I have since left Osteopathy and now build websites as a profession. Please feel free to ask me any questions. I’ll be glad to help if I can.