cover of Optimized Sept 2021 issue

How to Rank on The First Page of Google?

How to get on the coveted first page of search results for your keywords? That is the big question.

In this first issue of Optimized, I tackle the question by analyzing results found for a keyword/search term on the first page, in order to determine how we can get on the first page and climb to the number one spot.

This analysis is comprehensive. I examine every result in detail, looking for gaps and opportunities to do better. Below you find the summary of the report. You can also download the full report (no sign up required).

Search Term: Best Jogging Shoes

July 29, 2021 | Desktop | Chrome browser

Here are the rankings from the top (1) to the bottom (10) on the first page of Google search results.
The Rankings

  1. Runner’s World
  2. Fleet Feet
  3. Run Repeat
  4. Esquire (UK)
  5. T3 (UK)
  6. NY Mag
  7. Road Runner Sports
  8. Good Housekeeping
  9. CNET
  10. Gear Patrol
Keep in mind, you will see some fluctuation with the search results. You can see movement both up and down, and slipping of the first page aka falling into the abyss which is the 2nd page and beyond.

If and when you reach the first page, it’s not guaranteed you stay there.

Summary of Key Findings – SEARCH

1. Every result was optimized for the best running shoes.
2. All URLs were HTTPS (secure) and .com
3. All results included the keywords best running shoes in their meta title.
screenshot of best running shoes words on title
4. Eight URLs included /best-running-shoes/ as part of the URL.
keywords in the URL

5. Nine results were published or modified in the last 3 months. Six were modified within the last 30 days.

6. Two of the results were from the UK. T3 recognized /us/ as the region, Esquire didn’t.
google search results showing UK results

7. Six title tags included the year 2021.

Year 2021 on meta titles
8. Two URLs included men’s running shoes, and two other women’s running shoes, and one included both, although no distinction was made in the search.
9. Eight of the meta descriptions were generated by Google.

10. None of the pages had video content.

11. The first page of Google did not have a featured snippet.

12. Four of the results were from sites that specialize in running. Five of
the results were from lifestyle sites.

Summary of Key Findings – ON-PAGE

1. Featured Image

Five of the pages had a featured image. Four of the image file names included keywords.

2. Keywords (KWs)

None of the pages included the keywords (KWs)  best jogging shoes. All of the pages were optimized for the best running shoes.

3. Word Count

The word count ranged from 1898 – 10419 words.

word count graph best jogging shoe results

4. Page Content

The page content of all the pages included a “the best shoe” ranking/rating
section and a how to choose the best shoes for you, type content.

5. Ads

Eight pages included ads. Ads on six of the pages were disruptive.

The First Page Results

1. Runner’s World

Summary

Runner’s World is certainly an expert in the running department and their SEO for search is dialed in, but the on-page experience was poor. Too many ads, poor organization of content, and overall subpar page quality left a negative impression. Both on-page SEO and UX can be significantly improved. This means there is a great opportunity for us to create better content.

2. Fleet Feet

fleet feet google search result

Summary

This result could be above the Runner’s World. There are many positives on this page from the page organization to user experience. The big negative is the potential keyword stuffing, which sites/pages can be penalized for.

3. Run Repeat

run repeat search result

Summary

This page has a lot of potential! It has more relevant, better quality, and the highest EAT (expertise, authority, trustworthy) content out of the top 3 search results. After a few adjustments, this page could be a top contender.

I will be closely looking at this result and the #2 result to make sure I’m creating better content than these two.

4. Esquire

esquire search results

Summary

This page should not be on the first page. Period. The result is UK-based and therefore completely useless to the user searching in the US. I expect this result to disappear from the first page, hopefully, sooner than later.

5. T3

t3 search result

Summary

The page has several issues, not the least with ads and questionable authority, but it also has some good things on it, especially the skimmable specs section. That is something I’ll keep in mind creating my page.

6. NY Mag

t3 search result

Summary

The content is ok, but it’s nothing special. It’s a bit different from the others so far, in that, it goes to the studies about the importance of picking the right shoes. But then, it doesn’t go into details about how to pick the best shoes, as some of the other pages by experts did. l though the page checks off all of the boxes to a certain degree, it doesn’t really address the user’s needs to the extent that it should or could. The page accomplished its mission, which, in my opinion, is to have lots of affiliate links on the page.

7. Road Runner Sports

t3 search result

Summary

This page should NOT be on the first page! It’s a category page of an online store for women’s running shoes. I suspect it’s going to disappear soon. The sooner the better. This page is completely irrelevant for the search intent. Just no.

8. Good Housekeeping

t3 search result

Summary

This page is specifically for women, although we didn’t make a distinction in the search for it. In addition, Good Housekeeping is not an authority, nor do they have the expertise on the best running shoes. This lack of trust makes me wonder if the only reason they are publishing these articles is to get affiliate
links and ads on the page. There were a lot of them.

9. CNET

t3 search result

Summary

This page is specifically for men’s running shoes. And it has similar issues with the Good Housekeeping page. Again I get the feeling that the only reason this page exists is to be able to add affiliate links and ads on the page. This page should be slip-sliding right off the page to oblivion (2nd page or further down).

10. Gear Patrol

t3 search result

Summary

I don’t have much to say about this other than it looks and feels so very similar to the Runner’s World page including the negative issues RW page has. This is another result I can see dropping off the first page.

There are better results on page 2 than this (I looked).

In Conclusion

The top three results had just about all elements dialed in, with the exception of the Runner’s World poor user experience and on-page SEO. I could see Run Repeat and Fleet Feet climb up above Runner’s World with a few adjustments.

Several of the results should not be on the first page. Not now, not ever. What’s going on Google? Seriously, though, I would expect many of these to drop off the first page, far, far away from it.

Sometimes what happens is that when you refresh an older page, you see a big boost in rankings and can find yourself on the first page. Whether you can stay there is a different story.

The results also tell me that there is room to get on the first page, absolutely.
And there is also room to get on the top. The top three results are the biggest competition (currently anyway).

There are a few good results I spotted on the 2nd page. You might see some new results pushing up on the first page soon.

Download the Full Report

In the October issue, I will go over, step-by-step, how I would go about creating a better page than the top results in order to rank at the top.

The Plan
1. Create + Optimize a page for Best Running Shoes (October Issue)
2. Create + Optimize a page for Best Jogging Shoes
3. Link the jogging shoe page with the running shoe page

BONUS REPORT – ADS

Download the report