SEO Analysis: What we learned from our posts that rank

Note for transparency: Our highest-ranking pages and the specific ranks of some of these search terms have changed since this research was originally conducted. However, the trends we discovered are still relevant and informative.

SEO best practices can help you ensure you’re taking all the right steps to get noticed, but they can only go so far. We constantly tell clients, “If everyone is playing the same game and following the same rules, you still can’t be guaranteed to win.” In other words, if your competitors are following the same guidelines you are to optimize their sites for search engines, neither one of you has a distinct advantage. Knowing that search engines value accuracy above anything else, they’ll make ranking decisions based on the content itself with all else being equal. So instead of trying to outline Google’s formula, let’s take a different approach and reverse-engineer it. At MPWR Design, we rank well for quite a few search terms, so here’s an SEO analysis, breaking down what we’ve learned from four of our posts that rank well.

If you’re unsure how we know which posts rank on Google, check out our tips on Google Search Console. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at the top four results from our Google Search Console results.

#4: Design Trends: Duotone effects and gradient designs

How Google finds this article

Over the past 3 months, this article received Google impressions from the following searches (ranked in order of how many):

  • gradient trends
  • gradient design trend
  • duotone examples
  • duotone design
  • gradient trend
  • duotone websites
  • gradient duotone
  • Spotify gradient map
  • duotone website design
  • Spotify gradients

What we learned

Perhaps the most important key to this article ranking well is that it covers closely related that garner unique searches — gradient website designs, duotone designs, and Spotify’s design trends. Even though Spotify uses duotone designs, people searching for this trend may not know what it’s called.

On the other hand, we’ve also learned a sad truth about Google search results — the king of the castle doesn’t stay there long. We once ranked #1 for several of these search terms, but we’ve now fallen to the third or fourth page for several of them. Last year, this article was our #2 traffic driver, but that metric, too, has fallen. Google claims the age of content is a ranking factor, so that could play a role; however, it appears more well-known sites began covering this trend after we did, pushing our results down the list. Since backlinks are a major factor in search results, well-known sites tend to gain priority in search results.

#3: Pros and cons of the new WordPress Gutenberg editor

How Google finds this article

This article received Google impressions from 47 different searches over the past 3 months. Here are the top 10:

  • Gutenberg vs Elementor
  • WordPress Gutenberg editor
  • Divi Gutenberg
  • Elementor Gutenberg
  • Pros and cons of WordPress
  • Elementor vs Gutenberg
  • Gutenberg Elementor
  • New WordPress editor
  • WordPress design pros
  • Gutenberg and Elementor

What we learned

These results are very interesting. We’re getting hits from 47 Google searches but none rank very highly, but together they drive more impressions than the duotone design article.

This article also demonstrates the importance of the first paragraph of your copy. Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder both only appear twice in the article, but each is mentioned for the first time in the first paragraph. By contrast, the word Gutenberg appears about two dozen times. Still, though, Google displays the article in search results mentioning Elementor and Divi, and Beaver Builder also appears further down in the list.

#2: How to use a Facebook or Twitter ad-tracking pixel in WordPress

How Google finds this article

This article received Google impressions from a whopping 147 different searches. Here are the top 10:

  • Facebook pixel WordPress
  • Twitter pixel
  • Tracking on Twitter
  • Facebook pixel WordPress plugin
  • Twitter tracking pixel
  • How to add Facebook pixel to WordPress
  • Add Facebook pixel to WordPress
  • Facebook tracking pixel WordPress
  • Twitter tracking
  • Adding Facebook pixel to WordPress

What we learned

This is another example of breadth over depth yielding results. None of these search terms rank very high anymore, with an average position of 40.5. Like #4 above, we ranked higher for some of these in the past, getting #1 results for some searches. Oddly, search traffic tanked over 87% between July 31 and August 8, and while it has picked up again more recently, it is still only around half of what it was in July.

So while we again learn that search results are fickle and can change quickly, we can still see other insight as well. Several searches with Instagram show up later in the query list, yet again demonstrating the importance of your headings and the first paragraph of your copy. Even though the words Facebook and Twitter appear more than Instagram, Instagram is included in one heading and in the first paragraph. As the article explains, Instagram uses Facebook’s pixel, but we still saw quite a few people searching for it and finding our article due to the inclusion of the word.

These results also demonstrate that Google will likely show your content on a wide variety of searches if they’re related and relevant. It’s pretty amazing that people found this article through well over 100 different search terms, but as you can see from the top ten, they’re all very similar.

#1: How to preview what a post will look like on social media

How Google finds this article

This article received Google impressions from 77 different searches. Here are the top 10:

  • tweet preview
  • tweet preview tool
  • Facebook post preview tool
  • Twitter post preview
  • preview tweet
  • social media preview
  • preview social media posts
  • how to preview a tweet
  • preview tweet before posting
  • preview Twitter post

What we learned

This article has been the strongest traffic driver to our site for a long time. Even though it has less searches yielding results, it comes in much higher in search results, with an average position of 8.1 in the 77 different searches in which it appears. It yields a #1 ranking for several results, and ranks very well for several of the top searches above:

  • tweet preview — #5
  • tweet preview tool — #3
  • Facebook post preview tool — #5
  • Twitter post preview — #6
  • preview tweet — #5

Ironically, though, many of these search terms don’t properly encompass the content of the article. The main point of the article is to explain what WordPress content looks like when shared on social media. We didn’t add the word WordPress to the page title or any of our headings, though, so Google tends to display this article for searches not pertaining to WordPress (and, if we’re completely transparent, we don’t want to change it and risk harming the current traffic it is generating!).

With this in mind, we can learn quite a bit from this post.

  • WordPress is included in the article’s slug URL, so it appears that Google places a higher priority on the article title and headings.
  • One common thread among every single one of the top ten search queries that displays this article is the word preview. You’ll also notice the word appears in the page title, the slug, the first paragraph, and about half a dozen times after that. It’s a good idea to use a key word you’re targeting in all these important areas.
  • However, you’ll notice that FacebookTwitter, and tweet all appear in several of the top searches, and none of those words appear in the site title or slug URL. This tells us Google is smart enough to be able to discern beyond these key elements, and perhaps it even recognizes the relation between social media appearing in the article’s title and slug.

Hopefully, the insight we’ve gained from our pages that rank well can help you formulate a strategy to get the same results on your site.