Ranking on Page 1 of Google…Without Doing Anything

I realize the title of this post sounds like I’m about to try and sell you a product…the good news is, I’m not! I actually just wanted to share with you a quick story about how one of my niche sites landed on the first page of Google and received an ad click without me doing much of anything.

Although I uploaded a WordPress theme and added my usual plugins, this site was ranking on page 1 before I even added the content.

While you can’t plan for this in any way, I thought it might be interesting to take a deeper look at this site and the keyword that it targets to see if we can learn anything…

When you’re working very low competition keywords, you sometimes come across surprises.  Either a site ranks on page 1 so quickly that your head spins (as one of my sites did in this case), or you can’t seem to get to page 1 if your life depended on it, despite the seemingly low competition.  It’s hard to replicate because each keyword has a unique competitive environment, and for some reason, Google seems to like certain domains more than others. It’s a mystery to me, but I thought I could lay out for you the characteristics of both my domain and my keyword’s competition, with the hopes that we might learn something useful.

Here’s Exactly How it Happened

Just so we’re clear on what happened with this site, I’m going to walk you through it step by step:

1) Purchased the domain

2) Installed WordPress

3) Set up some on-page SEO elements (title, meta description, permalink structure)

4) Installed WordPress theme (this was the theme I used, although I think it’s irrelevant to what happened)

5) Set up my standard pages (privacy policy, contact page)

6) Set up my Google AdSense ads (You might be wondering, “Why did you set up the ads before you added any content?” There’s no particular reason why I did this – it’s just the order that I do things.)

Once all of that was done, I took a break, and during this break, I was looking through my Google AdSense data for the day.  Looking down the list of sites that received clicks for that day, I saw something really strange – the site that I had just set up had already received a click.  How is this possible? For a moment, I was worried that maybe I had accidentally clicked on my own ad, but I’m usually very careful about that.

I decided to investigate, by first looking at Google Analytics to see if there was any traffic recorded on that site.  I wasn’t expecting much – I didn’t even think Google Analytics would be tracking the traffic yet, since I had only installed it on the site within the past couple of hours.

Sure enough, the site already had 3 organic search visits, all from my target keyword. Upon Google-ing the keyword, I saw the site sitting right in the #8 position.  I’ve heard of pages ranking quickly on established blogs or article sites, but never with fresh domains that contain virtually no content.

Analyzing the Keyword, Domain, & Competition

Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the actual domain and keyword to you, for obvious reasons.  I will, however, reveal everything else.

The domain is an exact match keyword domain, with a .net extension.  There are no hyphens or any other words added beside the keyword itself.  Here is the basic information about the keyword:

As you can see, it’s not a high volume traffic keyword, but it’s also not extremely low either.  As for the competition, let’s take a look at the top 10 results for the keyword (it’s actually only 9 in this case), as analyzed by Market Samurai:

Clearly, the competition is very weak (which makes sense – how else would the site get to page 1 so quickly?).  Specifically, these are a few things I noticed (for all statistics, I am excluding my site):

  • 3 of the sites are PR0
  • 3 of the sites are less than a year old (this is the DA column)
  • 2 of the sites have less than 10 pages of content on their respective domains
  • 4 of the ranking pages have 0 backlinks (these tools almost always underestimate the amount of actual backlinks, so it’s possible that these sites have more than 0)
  • 1 of the ranking domains has no backlinks at all
  • Only 2 of the ranking pages have the target keyword in the URL
  • Only 4 of the ranking pages have the target keyword in the meta description

Without even doing a deep analysis, you can look at this chart and see right away that competition is weak.  It’s not too common to find keywords that have 2,000+ exact local searches with page 1 competition like this, but hopefully this little exercise gives you an idea of what to look for.  If you want to read more about my process for researching keywords, you can check it out here.


If sites like these can rank with no backlinks, then logic tells us that slightly more competitive keywords can rank with few backlinks.  For small niche sites, it pays to do good keyword research, because as you see here, it allows you to put little effort into SEO (which we all know is extremely time consuming) and still be able to rank highly in Google.

Have you had this happen to you with any of your niche sites?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


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Ranking on Page 1 of Google…Without Doing Anything

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