I'm not a big fan of building or buying backlinks, especially since most of my websites are in niches where my competitors would rather not help my website rank even higher than their own websites. If you're like me or you're not experienced with building or buying backlinks, then this guide on ranking websites without building backlinks is for you. So, without further ado, let's get started! Part 1: Tools You'll Need Before we begin, here is a short list of tools that you'll need to make this method work. All of these tools are free to use, so you don't have to worry about spending any extra money: Google Webmaster Tools Google Analytics Wordpress SEO by Yoast (Recommended For Wordpress Sites) Google Keyword Planner The Moz Toolbar or The Majestic Toolbar Tip: If there are alternatives tools that you prefer using over the ones listed above, feel free to use them as long as they provide accurate results. Part 2: Choosing A Keyword Using The Google Keyword Planner The first step to choosing a keyword is to open the Google Keyword Planner and enter any keyword related to your article (or any keyword you think would be a good match based on what your competitors are using). We're going to be looking for low competition keywords that receive a decent number of searches per month for their competition level. To help you understand this, I'm going to be using a fictitious puppy training website that needs new keywords. Now, what I prefer to do to find low competition keywords by sorting the results by "average monthly searches" and then go through the pages until I find the keywords that receive under 1,000 searches per month. For the sake of this post, I'm going to select a variation of the keyword "crate training a dog" in the image below called "how to crate train a puppy fast". Now, when deciding on which keyword is the best option, I initially look at 4 things to help me quickly sort through keywords (because you'll be sorting through a lot of keywords): The Moz Toolbar, the number of authority sites appearing in the SERPs, how many times the exact keyword appears in the SERPs, and my own intuition. (Notice how those relatively unknown sites do not target the exact keyword anywhere. That's a good sign!) The Moz Toolbar is useful for quickly glancing over pages and determining how many authority sites with Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) over 70 appear in the SERPs (as shown in the image above). As for the part about using my intuition, even if the websites in the SERPs have low a DA and PA and the exact keyword doesn't show up much, if I think I can't compete with the sites, I usually avoid the keyword or use it as a Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keyword instead. Speaking of LSI keywords, while you're here, you should also find a few LSI keywords. LSI keywords are simply synonyms, plurals, and other variations of your keyword, but using these LSI keywords provides a few benefits: They can help search engines such as Google determine what your site is about (e.g., Apple the product vs Apple the fruit). They can help your articles sound less repetitive. There's a chance that you could rank well for the LSI keywords in addition to your primary keyword You don't necessarily have to worry about the competition level of your LSI keywords, although I still like to check their competition level in the event that I end up ranking for the LSI keywords as well. Tip: Avoid keyword cannibalisation, which is where you target the same keyword on more than 1 page. This causes them to compete with each other with 1 outranking the other and the other being pushed further down in the SERPs. Part 3: Creating A Title For Your Page Since you've found a keyword by this point, it's time to search for that keyword once again in Google, although this time you'll want to pay attention to the titles of the results. When you create a title for a blog, you're going to want to avoid using similar titles to the pages that are already displayed in the SERPs. Instead, you'll want to draw attention to your post by creating a unique page title so that more people will click on it (and increase your CTR). For example, let's say you've chosen the keyword "crate training a dog" and the following posts showed up in the SERPs: How To Start Crate Training A Puppy Crate Training A Puppy Guide The Ultimate Guide To Crate Training A Puppy You're going to want to be able to differentiate yourself from the rest of the results by creating a title that hasn't been used before. With what we know about Internet marketing and the SERPs for that keyword, we can assume that the title "10 Ways You Can Begin Crate Training A Puppy" would be competitive since people love lists due to the organisation (and because they know how many methods to expect) and beause this title is distinguished from the rest of the results. Tip: Avoid using obnoxious page titles that contain special characters. Special characters are deterrents and looks terrible in the SERPs. Part 4: Writing Quality Content I'm going to keep this part short since there are so many different niches and tactics out there. Just keep your content unique and focus on writing for your target audience to help keep people engaged and on your site longer. If you're wondering what exactly quality content is, I would imagine they quality content have most of the following attributes: Pillar articles (long, useful articles that age doesn't affect). Accurate spelling. Proper grammar. Written at a reading level that's appropriate for the target audience. Relevant sources. Relevant high quality images. Proper formatting (headers, bold text, paragraphs, and other ways of organising your content) Tip: Research your target audience. If you analyse the data in Google Analytics and discover that your audience enjoys an article on your website (high page views and long session durations), then try modelling the style of your next few articles after the successful article. Part 5: Categories and Tags Organising your content into categories and using tags is important, but you may be wondering what the difference between categories and tags are. Categories are meant to be more of a broad topic. For example, if you created a post about Churn and Burning, then the category would be "SEO" or Black Hat SEO" Tags are more specific than categories. For example, if you created a post about Churn and Burning, then the category would be "Churn and Burn" As shown in the image above, if you're using Wordpress, editing your categories and tag pages is as simple as hovering over the "Posts" tab on your dashboard and clicking on either categories or tags. Did you also know that categories and tags have their own pages? If not, you should go and write articles for these pages. While it's unlikely that your audience will ever stumble upon these pages, it does give searches engines another page to crawl and index as well as another article to determine the overall theme of your website. Tip: You can try writing engaging articles for your category pages and target keywords for them as well! If you put effort into your content and effectively optimise it, you'd be surprised about how many people may visit these pages. Part 6: Meta Tags Placing your keyword and LSI keywords in meta tags and image alt tags is a great way to not only increase your keyword density (which I will get to momentarily), but the latter can also help rank your images in Google images since you're surrounding the image with your keywords. This is especially important for websites focused on images since your target audience is more likely to use Google Images in the first place. Tip: If you want to increase your chances of ranking in Google Images, then: add a Creative Commons license, make sure your aspect ratio is 4:3, 16:9, and 21:9; and ensure that your image isn't too small (299 pixels and under) or too large (1281pixels and larger). Part 7: Internal Link Structure & Outbound Links Having a strong internal link structure not only helps web crawlers find and index your pages, but placing appropriate internal links in your articles can give your audience more content to consume than what they initially came to your website for. As for outbound links, make sure these are relevant to your website, but try to avoid linking to similar articles (e.g., your post about adding spinners to a wheelchair should not link to a post on another website about adding spinner's to a wheelchair; your visitors might like the other site more). Tip: Always make sure that all outbound links are opened in a new tab when they are clicked. This will prevent your visitors from forgetting to return to your website if they become interested in the other website. Step 8: Keyword Density One search engine optimiser may say you need a keyword density between 2-3% and another search engine optimiser may say to keep your keyword density at 1%, but what should your keyword density be? The answer to that is simple: just write your article while keeping your keyword in mind. Once you're done writing it, re-read the article. If it sounds repetitive, replace the repetitive keywords with LSI keywords. If you feel like the keyword wasn't used enough, add it a few more times (you can also add the keywords in image alt tags and titles if you feel like you can't find a good place to force the keyword into the article). Tip: If you read this section expecting a percentage, then keep your keyword density between 1% and 4% (although keep it closer to 1%; this is usually enough). Step 9: Re-Optimisation Most people treat SEO like it's a one-time thing; you just optimise articles and never edit them again. This is nonsense, and you'll figure out why momentarily. You see, re-optimisation is simply going back to your old articles and using a different primary keyword (and possibly LSI keywords). There are many situations where you would need to go back and re-optimise your articles for a different keyword: You chose a bad keyword and the article never ranked well or received much traffic. You've discovered that you have new competitors who are targeting your exact keyword. The keyword's searches-per-month dropped. If you find yourself in any of those situations, it's probably best to re-optimise your article for a different keyword (you may even be able to use one of the LSI keywords as your primary keyword!). In case you're wondering when you should re-optimise your articles, I would wait approximately 2 weeks (or 1 week if you have a frequently updated site) before checking on the current keywords position in the SERPs. Tip: You don't always have to re-optimise an article that is performing poorly for a keyword. Instead, you can always try to go back and find any mistakes you may have made during the initial page optimisation (e.g., high keyword density). In addition to this, use Analytics in conjunction with Google Webmaster Tools to determine which pages are performing well. Webmaster Tools let's you know how well a keyword is performing in the SERPs while Analytics will let you know the popularity of each page. You can also use Analytics to find out which pages on your website are performing poorly. Focus on re-optimising these pages before you focus on re-optimising any other pages. Part 10: Competition Prevention Tactic: "Keyword Cloaking" This tactic, which is unrelated to link cloaking, is actually more of a security measure and something I occasionally use to prevent my visitors who may have similar websites to my own from targeting my keywords. The way you "cloak" your keywords is simple: use another keyword and maintain a similar keyword density as the primary keyword. This helps prevent people who use tools such as SEOCentro from discovering your keyword density. Tip: While anyone could still figure out what keywords you're ranking for (especially if they found your website through a Google search), making it slightly more complicated for someone who is just looking to copy the keywords you're using to find out which keywords you're ranking for may be enough to deter them, especially if they're doing this in bulk (this is similar to adding an extra obstacle such as a brick wall to deter petty would-be robbers from your house). Conclusion The whole point of this guide is strategy; getting many different pages to rank for many different low competition keywords until your site start's gaining enough traction to be able to compete for the medium competition keywords (and so on and so forth) The great thing about this method is that you'll naturally procure backlinks for your pages, so you won't have to worry about building the links yourself. Additionally, don't feel discouraged if your articles do not rank well at first for what you thought were easy keywords. This has happened to me on several occasions and once I go back and re-optimise the article for a different keyword, this usually corrects the issue.