Sometimes you look at a SERP for a keyword you want to compete for and see the product manufacturer, Wikipedia, or some other titan in the number one slot.
Likely, unless you’ve got some killer SEO tricks up your sleeve, you’re not going to be unseating the current place one holder.
So if you can’t be #1, do you move on or try to tackle the #2 spot? Let’s break it down into a few different points of mention:
What exactly is the keyword you are trying to rank for? A lot of times, a vendor or manufacturer may appear at the top, but people want information, advice, or reviews from another party.
In this case, ranking number two would just be fine since you’ll ideally get more traffic than the vendor is such a situation. It’s important that you conduct proper keyword research to understand what your searchers are looking for.
Universal Search Elements
Since 2007 Google has done away with the simple 10 listings SERPs. Videos, pictures, local listings, news results, and even author pics now appear in the results.
If the #2 or 3 result is a video, then put a video in your post and upload it to Youtube and other video sharing sites. The thumbnail naturally attracts WAY more eyeballs so you can potentially get much more traffic.
The same principal can work against you if you ignore universal search. If the first result is standard, but it’s followed by 8 local listings, it is not nearly as valuable being #1. You would be better off being one of the Places Page listings.
Tips for Increasing Click-Through Rate:
1. Good meta description
People glance at meta descriptions to decide if they want to visit a page or not. Your keywords here don’t matter. Instead, focus on writing exactly what your visitor would want to see.
2. Write a good title (besides having keyword)
We all know it’s best to start a title with your keywords. Besides this, add some buzz words like “NEW” and capitalize one of them to gain more attention.
3. Get your picture in the SERPs
The rel=author tag being used to show author pics is a relatively new addition to the SERPs. Only the web superstars like Rand Fishkin and Joost de Valk are currently showing up, but you’ll want to keep up and prepare your own mug to show up in the results. You can find all the instructions on how to get your pic to show up here.
You Don’t Know Until You Try
The truth is every keyword is different. Like any sporting event, we might see a team stocked with stars (Wikipedia), but the same team doesn’t win every time even if they’re great do they? Even star players have off days, and every team has its season. You can beat authority sites in Google – it happens all the time. You’ll just have to try to find out.
It also comes down to a matter of ROI. In other words, how much time and effort is it going to take you to rank? How many click-throughs can you expect for the ranking you want? Often times, the difference between #1 and #2 is tremendous, but there are of course exceptions.
Tip: Try to rank simultaneously for 2 or 3 similar keywords, see what happens, and then build links for the winning keyword. Subsequent links can be built to target the other keywords
What Does All This Mean?
If you’re going to go after a keyword, start with intentions of grabbing the #1 spot because that is where the traffic is at. There are certain circumstances, as discussed earlier, that will net you decent traffic even at a lower position, but this is not always the case.
Be prepared to have an easier or tougher time than you predicted ranking and keep your listing as targeted as you can.
Have you ever been surprised by an especially easy or tough ranking? Has universal search helped you or screwed you before?