There are few businesses on the internet not trying to rank for some kind of “best” type keyword. Consumers often use that adjective to refine results, and find an authoritative, 3rd party voice.
This reality means that often, there are complexities that come with ranking for these kind of terms as a 1st party. In our newest video, we break down why that is and how to circumvent those problems to get traffic from this valuable keyword type.
Hi, everyone. I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media. We’re a content marketing agency, and if you’ve been following along, this is the third in our series of how to rank for a certain keyword set.
Today’s installment is how to rank for “best” keywords specifically. Many verticals, I would say almost all of them, have some kind of “best” keyword framework where people are trying to find, obviously, the absolute best version of something for them.
It has some complexity as compared to other types of searches because there is a idiosyncrasy that isn’t straightforward about trying to rank for something that in reality, someone is trying to find an unbiased result for.
That is what “best” is a lot of times. It’s someone trying to look for a third-party source in order to make sure that they are making an optimal purchase decision.
Therefore, as a company that would love to be on those results, there is a dynamic in play that you have to solve for. And there are a few ways to play it. First, you better be the best at whatever that is or be very near the top in order to really feel confident about showing up consistently.
Second, our following tips will build on that to show you how to do that consistently as a business.
1. Give Up Ranking as a 1st Party
The first is to actually give up ranking for this keyword. So a lot of companies will actually come to us and say, “Hey, we want to rank for best shampoo. We want to rank for best detergent, best hand soap,” and what have you. And they are the manufacturer of those products.
It is really unlikely that you can rank for that with your own website to actually stand out or be believed for users unless it’s a very un-competitive search result. It isn’t impossible to do that. It’s just pretty unlikely because users want a third-party resource.
That’s why when you Google “best X”, you’re actually seeing magazines a lot, publishers a lot, third-party review sites a lot.
And therefore, if you’re that business, that manufacturer, you should actually give up on that strategy specifically, not give up on ranking.
Yes, you should probably advertise for that kind of search, but you should look to different methods of ranking to get that same traffic and benefit from it.
That leads us into our second step, which is to actually leverage third-parties to rank your first-party site.
2. Leverage Existing 3rd Parties
What I mean by that methodology is to actually go to those third-party sites, say you’re the best shampoo, whoever you may be. And you go to Cosmo, you go to GQ, those sites that already have rankings on those search results. And yes, you reach out, and you offer to pay those people for a placement there.
That is a potential way to get included on articles that are already clearly seeing traffic. And this strategy specifically is not leveraged all that often.
The publisher might even be somewhat surprised by it such that the inclusion, from a native advertising standpoint is actually high-value and high ROI for you from a cost-per-transaction or cost-per-conversion standpoint because it is such an unusual thing for them to get pitched.
And yes, you should probably nofollow that link. It shouldn’t be valued from that perspective, but you’re trying to drive sales, not get the link value in this point of view.
And ideally, it’s unbiased, and obviously, if it’s sponsored, they should still market it as such. So obviously, work with a publisher to work that out appropriately.
Alternatively, you can look at tangential posts. Say it is the best shampoo, you can see who’s ranking for best antiperspirant or something like that. That same person most likely has the authority also to rank for best shampoo.
So you go to that publisher and say, “Hey, here is my great shampoo. Could you write a post on this? I’d love to send you some product. I’d even love to maybe give you some financial incentive in order to write a post like this.” (See our template for this here.)
And because you know they have the ability to rank for that kind of thing for other posts, they’ll now have the incentive to do it and include you on this new one. And ideally, you are organically placed in that and you’re not paying them to say that without saying that they got paid. But it’s just one way to think about doing that overall.
The other way of doing that is actually to leverage third-parties to create that content.
3. Pitch or Create New Content for 3rd Parties
So occasionally, you might not have to pay. So in SEO, you obviously know Moz. Moz has accepted a lot of user-generated content for a good amount of time on their platform, YouMoz.
But since then, they’ve stopped that. But regardless, say you guest-posted on YouMoz again, and you want to rank for “best SEO tools,” but you’re actually an SEO tool provider, you wouldn’t want to do that on your own site.
But if you posted on a third-party like Moz, you’d then be more trusted. It’s more likely that someone would click a site like that. Even though Moz is actually a tool provider themselves, there is a kind of dynamic there that’s at play.
But given the industry knows that the blog of Moz is trusted as a third-party, as opposed to if you were Ahrefs and you wrote “the best SEO tools”, it’d be a different dynamic.
You’ll be able to rank by creating that content for someone else, that is, the kind of publisher that should rank for those things, you’ll get the engagement signals that’ll actually allow you to do that, as opposed to those other scenarios.
I recommend if you’re doing that kind of guest post, you do the unbiased list. Ideally, those other people will add value in a different way than you are. For example, maybe your dandruff shampoo is just the most amazing for men or women of color or something like that.
The above screenshot from Moz is actually a great example. They write an unbiased list of blogs to follow, but also include themselves. The way it’s positioned inspires trust and sure enough, they rank for this query as of this publish date.
That kind of dynamic gets you wins and allow you to rank. It can sometimes hurt or be difficult to get that through executive teams given you often have to list competitors, but it’s often worthwhile if you can control the message and lock up the traffic on your own site.
4. Add “The” and “2018” to Your Title Tag Framework
My next tip is to not put the “best” keyword at the front of a title tag. You’ll see this very frequently, and I think it’s one of the biggest weaknesses for an SEO-type mindset. Those companies will just skip using human language when writing title tags and URLs.
I think Google is increasingly smarter and users are increasingly smarter and want to skip and not reward those kind of sites. So what I mean by that, if the keyword is “Best Air Conditioner,” you wouldn’t have your title tag be “Best Air Conditioner.” No one writes that way. Instead, you would say “The Best Air Conditioner.”
You’ll see that frequently, many sites that get rewarded for these best kind of frameworks. They’re often leveraging “the” at the front.
There are exceptions that you’re going to see – people that rank without “the” at the front, because that’s the way they decided to, but I think it’s more likely that they’re doing that because they are high authority and not because of the fact that they dropped “the.” I think the balance is actually the optimal way of doing that and definitely lower risk.
And finally, for many of these best keywords, people want the newest and best results. So therefore, add “of (year)” at the end.
It’s pretty common amongst pretty much every single “best” search. They want relevancy, they want freshness. So adding “of 2018” will have a special value there. Sometimes it gets even deeper than that.
I’ve seen in credit cards specifically, they will even add “of January 2018” or “of February 2018.” Test this in your vertical. Maybe it’ll have impact, maybe it won’t, just depending on how fresh people really want whatever it is you’re selling.
These things can help you rank overall. My recommendation is that you use a “The Best Keyword of 2018” kind of framework for optimal clickthrough rate and also deoptimization to, thereby, actually optimize those keywords.
5. Leverage an Unbiased Ranking Methodology
My next tip for these keywords is to leverage an unbiased ranking methodology. Again, users want the feel with this kind of search that they’re getting unbiased results.
So you better be doing something that actually communicates that you are actually saying something that is truthful, whether that is riding on a third-party that’s trustworthy including yours as one of 20 other results. Moz has done that for searches like “best SEO tools.”
They rank for those things because people know that it is a pretty unbiased list. They will put their competitors in those lists. And then they can get the benefit that is still probably stronger from not creating that result at all, because of that framework around it.
(Editor’s Note: Moz no longer ranks for this, likely because the live version is no longer interactive/as polished as the old one, which you can see linked above.)
Additionally, to even rank for these, maybe you aren’t a first party, you are a third party and you want to rank.
You better be doing something that communicates that that first party is not paying you in order to actually surface yourself higher, because if I’m a user and I’m buying a very expensive air conditioner of some kind, if I even get the sniff that this third-party publisher got incentivized through compensation in some way in order to rank, I’m bouncing, and going to a different result.
And of course, that’s gonna impact your ability to rank. So make sure you’re using real in-depth testing methodology or an unbiased voice when writing these in order to really rank consistently for these frameworks.
6. Structure Short Posts with H2s, Long Posts with Tables
And finally, Google really loves quick answers. So you should basically solve either in one of two ways in order to show up in quick answers, is use the product names as the H2s or put them in a table for longer posts.
So what I mean by that, if it’s a short post, such as “The 5 Best Content Marketing Tools”, the best way to consistently show up in that quick answer is, in my experience, is in the H2, you put “1. Content Marketing Tool Name 1.”
And then the second H2, “2. Content Marketing Tool Name 2.”
That’s a quick, easy way that Google and the robots can confidently feel that that is a list of the five best tools that they can then pull into the quick answer and easily give someone the right result.
The second way of doing that, say you have a really long post… it’s not just five tools or, you go into more depth. My suggestion is maybe create a table of contents and then create a table of some kind where you have an H2 that says “The Best Air Conditioner” or “The Best SEO Tools,” that then has a table that adds detail about those tools and then a one, two, three, four, etc.
So this is especially relevant because getSTAT, now STAT, created a study of who is returning in quick answers most often. And it was commonly people that used tables over the H2 ordered list framework for these “best” keywords.
I believe Google is actually A/B testing these quick answers, so your mileage may vary for these types of things. But the general thought process is if you want to rank consistently in that quick answer, you better structure your best post in a way that can easily extract those concepts.
So hopefully, this was of value to you if you’re that first-party and you want to rank for best keywords, hopefully, I gave you a path to get some traffic from it in some way.
Sometimes you can rank for these if you have massive authority and are a 1st party and a brand that consumers believe would speak transparently about that. But otherwise, work with those third parties to get that traffic pushing over to your website.
And if you’re a third party yourself, hopefully, these tips gave you some paths forward to get some valuable traffic. So if you liked this video, please give us a thumbs-up, tell us what you thought, and subscribe. Thanks for watching.