How Long did it take to Rank the Most Competitive, High-Volume Keyword into the First SERP?

Discussion 3: How Long did it take to Rank the Most Competitive, High-Volume Keyword into the First SERP?
Let's brag a bit.
What was the most competitive, high-volume keyword that you managed to rank first for? How long did it take to achieve that?
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I won't share the TOP top ones, but "penny stocks" is one. Took a client from page 4-1 in 3-4 months. All just internal linking and SEO. Updates to the top of page 2, then a month or two of guest post backlinks to move it up to middle of page 1. Traffic increased a ton for them, as did conversions.
The keyword doesn't look horribly difficult on Ahrefs, but other top competitors are/were doing the same constantly too, so was nice to beat and pass them up.
Jesse Neubert 🎓
Payday Loans once upon a time ago. Took about 3-4 months.
Holy sh*t the $$$ that keyword produced Lol
It wasn't that we haven't seen or worked with high value keywords before. Plenty of keywords are worth more.
But the VELOCITY of $$$ that word generated daily was impressive.
Oh for sure. I wouldn't be able to replicate it today.
Held page 1 rankings for about a year for the client (8 months).
Also Google admitted that PayDay has its own unique algorithm.
It's an interesting niche from an SEO perspective but I don't support the predatory practices and wouldn't get into it again.
Steven Kang 👑
Manage to rank "Japanese Restaurant" on the first page nationally years ago and has generated lots of traffic to the chain as it appeared everywhere.
Ecig, Electronic cigarette, electric cigarette, and cigarette… First blog I ever put up took 6 months to rank… ill never forget i was in Amsterdam for the weekend and the blog was at a consistent $250/day… then the morning I got to the Dam I hit page 1 for electric cigarette, did about $600 there electronic hit the next day and was at $1200 a day… Needless to say that was one hell of a weekend!!! Lol
"Verizon fios" – 1M, positions 2 & 3, and sometimes site links. Took 6 months and personally built around 300+ high quality backlinks. It was a lead gen site for Verizon Fios, and Verizon was a client. They actually got upset a few times because we overtook their #1 position every now and then…lol

Rios » Clayton
Lol brands always be mad you're outranking them. We were a authorized retailer for dish and all other home services and we always had those quarterly calls were they gave us so much shit for outranking them.
Clayton » Rios
Yep!! I was in an agency and we had a bunch of Telcos we outranked…Verizon, Directv/AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Hughesnet, etc…VF was the one I worked on.
Rios » Clayton
Yup we have the schema stars back before it was regulated. Spun content and had those long tail zipcode pages for the entire United States

The most competitive ones were poker and online poker, #1 in Google US. It took 14 months of hard work. Other than that we ranked also "lingerie", "sexy dresses", and more all in top 3. I would say that it's not the keyword you rank that matters rather which site you get the rank for 😄 if those weren't enterprise level sites, I wouldn't stand a chance…


We never did any as huge as those mentioned above (we don't "do SEO" for a living either). However, we have a client with 600+ page 1 keywords and 18000+ in top 100, which averages for a whooping 4000 uniques a day of organic traffic converting at 3-4%. And the cost of the service starts at $1000, so do the math (yeah, this is HUGE). It took 4 years, though, and now we're redesigning it to improve conversions a bit more
Another one is even smaller, he has 20 or so page 1 keyword. It started on February 2020. Now gets around 150 uniques a day, with an average of 6 sales a day. Each sale represents 50k on average (that means 50,000 US dollars, with a cost of $2000 a month and a minimum of 2 years). the value is in the long run (this is for some type of lifetime therapy). We achieved this in 7 months (we added some CPC at some point until it started to bring money).
Again, these are not as huge as the great examples mentioned, but Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not our thing, we only do basic stuff. We make our clients (lots of ) money by using other specialties we have, but SEO is completely secondary within our range of services, because most of the times they already have some SEO service. Otherwise, it comes naturally, because we do only technical and content SEO, nothing else.
Ranked "Credit cards", "Bills", "Time value of Money", "nominal interest", "Creditworthiness" "loan for…". at position 1. As a matter of fact, ~1000 of top financial keywords on the fist page, all at the national level. Outranked Banks, Credit card companies, Portals and Financial institutions.
That started on 2014 and was never brought down by Google, because it involved zero link building and without any kind of manipulation. It only went up on each algorithm update. It works today just as well. Similar results are in local, apparel, health, food industry… Only the long-term stable game. 🙂 The traffic drop happened due to COVID in most businesses, but it had no impact on rankings.
I especially enjoy seeing my local optician client (has just two stores in a single street), ranking for all big sunglasses brands in the top 10, and outranking big national sunglasses chains. (1000 keywords on the first page as well). He is sending eyewear everywhere in the county and has increased profits over 50X.
Any of that wouldn't be possible with SEO alone. This is the result of the vertical integration into the entire customer's journey, which includes the website and even in-store processes & offline authority. It is fascinating how far and wide SEO actually extends.

Discussion 2: What Is Your Test to Determine How Competitive a Search Engine Result Page (SERP) Is?
Keith L Evans 🎓
What is your test to determine how competitive a Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is? (asking for a friend)
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what is your test to determine how competitive a search engine result page serp is

Quick summary of the strategy that I've been using…
Create a live staging environment on the site you want to test on. Eg
Then grab a bunch of content from the first few sites ranking first page for your desired keyword, paste it into a word document, copy it from there, paste it into a spinner. Spin the shit out of it, then paste that into WordPress.
Grab several images, optimise them for the keyword, sprinkle those in amongst your spun content, optimise the title tag and meta description tag, and URL then submit to Search Console and wait.
Give it 15 minutes, then see where it lands.
If its worth going after, you'll know because it will be first page. For the ones you test that do hit first page, go back and fix the content and write it properly.
The only way to know with absolute certain how hard or easy a keyword might be to rank for, is to test it in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

Steve Toth 🎓 » John
Super smart. One question: does this mean that if the spun content, on a test domain with zero authority doesn't rank on page 1 you won't go for it? What if the keyword is high competition? Lots of great content available, but your gut tells you that with some perseverance and link building you could do it and that it would be worth it (money keyword).
John » Steve
Answer below…
"Does this mean that if the spun content, on a test domain with zero authority doesn't rank on page 1 you won't go for it?"
I don't use a test domain. I use the site I'm trying to rank. I hide the tests in a staging environment which isn't visible from the front end. See above ( *tests in here*
"What if the keyword is high competition?"
I test it anyway. I test everything.
"Lots of great content available, but your gut tells you that with some perseverance and link building you could do it and that it would be worth it (money keyword)."
That's the whole point. If I test a keyword and it hits the bottom of page one, or top of page two, or even a bit lower than that using spun content, I'm pretty confident that its worth my while.
This is the thing…
The whole point of using this strategy is to –
1) Save time
2) Save money
3) Eliminate guesswork
Software driven keyword difficulty metrics mean very little, if anything really. I never look at them. They're incredibly inaccurate. The only way to know is with absolute certainty is to actually launch pages in the SERPs and see where they land. That way you know which terms to invest in.
I typically push out 20 odd keyword tests at a time. 16 might land nowhere, but the 4 that do well – I spend my time there.
The last thing you want to be doing is f*cking around creating content then have it land page 12 in the SERPs. That's painful.
Could be one for the notebook 😉
Steve Toth 🎓 » John
I'm definitely thinking about it, but I worry this would have ruled me out of some SERPs that have been very successful for me in the past. Stuff with high Cost-per-click (CPC)s and at least a dozen sites actively gunning for it. I get that the point is to say "spend your time elsewhere," but there is big money in those SERPs especially where the conversions translate into recurring revenue for the client.
I still 100% want to try this, it's just not going to be the litmus test for me every time.
John » Steve
I'm not sure I understand your reply?
Just to clarify, I don't always use this strategy, and I'm not suggesting its either or. I usually go for all keywords regardless. I think I said the other day (in here) "the hardest keywords to rank for are the ones you don't try to rank for."
In this case, I was simply providing a suggesting to Keiths question up top.
When you're working in a high pressure campaign and you've got a client on your ass, this strategy can be useful to ensure you're leaning the ladder up against the right wall (so to speak)
Steve Toth 🎓 » John
The "it's not either or" is helpful. I think all I was saying is that I know for a fact that many of the keywords I go for wouldn't rank on a zero authority domain with spun content. That said, I think this is a great way to choose between a long list of topics and go for the ones you think will rank. If I do a note on this, I'll be sure to plug your group and your course. Cheers.
John » Steve
Cheers. As I said I test on actual sites (client sites) so they all have established authority etc. This strategy may not tell you much on new sites that are at zero.
Steve Toth 🎓 » John
Sorry, misread.
John » Steve Toth
Here this might help (remove if this is not allowed)
Module 22 Keyword Research Pt2


This may satisfy you: To Rank Competitive keywords | Heavy Keywords
Discussion 1: Competitive Keywords Like SEO “City”
I have moved to Toronto and started working with ScotiaBank as a SEO Consultant. It's been little more than 2 months in Toronto and things are pretty smooth and good till now.
I'm building my agency website and on a journey to rank for some of the competitive keywords like "SEO toronto".
As we have lot of agency owners here, just wanted to understand, do we get valuable leads from those keywords?
I know it's silly to ask, but the intention of asking this is, whether it's worth investing money into content and link building or it's better to go for paid ads?
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Kari » The Content Factory
Gets basically all of our leads and clients from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – it's all in the search intent behind the keywords, then answering their question, demonstrating value and highlighting your expertise/case studies in the content itself. This is also how we've built our email list (downloadable assets related to the content on the page they're on FTW!).
We do get some referrals, but my favorite leads are when somebody leaves a job at X company, moves to Y company and hires us there. That's a quickly signed contract, which I'm a fan of.
I also put all of our services, rates and case studies out on front street to help prequalify the leads. This has saved me a TON of time over the years, because by the time people contact us almost all of them have seen how much we charge and so I don't get pushback or objections (they just figure they can't afford to hire us, and move on, or subscribe to our email and buy training later on).
Several people above are saying that the quality of the leads from their SEO sucks. If this is the case, something is broken in their lead gen process.

Mike » Kari
You've convinced a former doubter. Your method has more depth to it versus ranking for calls alone.
Bennett » Kari
This has to be one of the best responses I've read in an SEO group this year. Spot on!
Love this comment. In particular the part about demonstrating value. That's the thing that almost all agencies and owner-operators miss. They're full of proclamations about how good they are, but they don't demonstrate the value and back it up.
Kari » Bradley, Robert thanks guys! People in SEO groups can be a tough audience – very much appreciate your positive feedback 🙂
Kari oh, I found that out the hard way. And I would say especially even more so for women. It's a crazy mixture of newbies and seasoned Pros oh, so you get a wild range of responses sometimes. But I've also noticed a lot of solidarity here on a lot of different topics, which is great.

Would say rank for local as people search more local terms than national. My personal experience, I had rank for local keywords in map pack and organic, I get most of the leads from map Vs organic.

Yeah, Arshad You are right. I am also going local with 3 properties in Toronto.
I am pivoting 1 for website design, 1 for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and 1 for digital marketing. 😃

My site ranks nationally for a bunch decent SEO+city keywords. I get a lot junk leads. IMO investing the time dollars to rank for those local SEO keywords isn't worth it and is more of a vanity thing. It is a good selling point. I've pulled a couple decent clients from it over the past couple of years, but it's not worth it IMO.
Facebook ads and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is killing it for me right now. Yes, it costs some $$ to get a client, but it's predictable and scalable.
If you can rank for niche related keywords it's much better. The leads seem to have more intent and larger budgets. That's just been my experience, "Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

I have been feeling this since a long time now, but just wanted a deliberate answer. Thanks for your time Adam.

Do worry so much what your comp IS doing, do what they aren't willing to do. Most in my experience, aren't willing to go out there and get clients, waiting for them to knock on their doors.
Be the Hunter & Not the Hunted. Pick up the phone, go knock on their door and go to local meetups. A sale is 10X more easier when they already know you as a person, than just a blog post or an Ad.

Steven Kang 👑
Love this. "Be the Hunter & Not the Hunted."
Naik » Leon
I have been leveraging myself this way until now. Local events and reckless networking has landed me good amount of business.
But then I see couple of business ranking well and putting constant efforts to maintain the ranking, so I thought, why not ask our peers and learn from their experience.
I want to contact you to learn cold calling prowess! I am a part of your group and have been loving the content you put out there mate!
Bennett » Leon
Sales is a contact sport? 🤔😉
Leon » Bradley
Ma man. Exactly. The only way to get the ball, is to go out and get it!!


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