Every SEO knows that with enough backlinks, you can rank for virtually any keyword.

Direct proof of this is found by searching the phrase “click here.” The #1 result is Adobe, and in our article “Natural Deep Linking: the Safest Way to Get Your Website to Google Page #1,” we talk about why Adobe owns that ranking.

I’ll give you a teaser: it has to do with backlinks – and that’s about it.

So we know it’s possible to rank a website with backlinks alone. But we also know backlinks are slowly losing the amount of ranking power they have. Don’t get me wrong – with enough backlinks you can still rank for any keyword. Ever since the Panda Update, though, Google’s shown they require more from a website than just backlinks.

With the new changes set by Panda then, is it possible to get a website ranking for competitive keywords off of content alone?


Well-written content certainly can get you ranking on page #1 for your keywords. And in today’s article, we’ll be discussing how this is possible.

Planning your Content Strategy

Ranking with the content alone requires a bit more upfront planning than a traditional SEO campaign. 

First, you need to determine a solid keyword structure. We’ve written about this in the past, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll do a brief review.

Your website should have three levels of keywords. The first level is your main keyword. So if your website’s on internet marketing, your main keyword would be “internet marketing.” Then you have the second tier, which targets a more specific version of your main keyword. 

So your tier two keywords could be “internet marketing for students,” and “internet marketing for moms.”

Finally, you make things even more specific with your tier three keywords. Following our internet marketing example, your tier three keywords could be “internet marketing for students living at home,” “internet marketing for stay-at-home moms,” “internet marketing for students with college debt,” etc.

Tier three keywords are the secret to this content strategy.

Although you can rank for fairly competitive terms with just content alone, for the biggest and most competitive keywords, you’ll need some type of authority. This doesn’t necessarily have to be backlinks – you could also have a large social presence. But you will need some type of authority. So we’re not going to target tier 1 keywords yet.

Instead, we’ll write content specifically based on our tier 3 keywords. These are keywords that are much more specific and, as a result, will be easier to rank for.

Putting the Plan in Action

Now that you have the content strategy in place, it’s time to put it to work. This means writing content based on your tier 3 keywords. So for our internet marketing example, we’d start writing ultra-specific content based on keywords like “internet marketing for stay-at-home moms.”

Be careful here. Although you’re targeting very specific keywords, your content needs to be valuable and provide the information a searcher is looking for. This strategy does not work if you don’t have valuable content!

Too often, people spend the bulk of their time working on keyword research, leaving content creation as an afterthought. If you want this strategy to work for you, all your content needs to be top-quality.

As you churn out tier 3 keyword content, you’ll need to start building up authority within your website. You do this by linking to other pages in your website through your content. So in your “internet marketing for stay-at-home moms” article, you may also find a place to link to your “internet marketing for college students” article.

Then, as you begin to rank on page #1 for your tier 3 keywords, you’ll start to build authority to those pages. And since you’re creating a web of links throughout your entire website, your authority is distributed to all the pages on your site.

Lastly, as a pleasant side-effect to writing high-quality content, you’ll also likely receive links from people visiting your website. Instead of having to spend hours of your time building links, you’ll receive them naturally, plus your website will already be ranking for tier 3 keywords.

As your authority grows, you can begin writing content targeting tier 2 keywords. By using this strategy, it’s possible to rank for very competitive keywords without having to spend any time artificially building links.

Want More SEO Tips?

Although this strategy is a bit more time-consuming than traditional SEO, it has the benefit of being completely natural. In other words, you don’t do anything that’s frowned upon by Google. This means that once you gain your rankings, you’ll likely be keeping them for a long time.

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