Whether we like it or not, we live in a world dominated by search.According to Google search data, 53% of shoppers say they always do online research before they buy to ensure they’re making the best possible choice. Among other things, people look for product information, reviews, comparisons, pricing, alternatives, etc.Gone forever are the days of uninformed choices and impulse purchases.If your business doesn’t appear on the first page of Google search results, it’s unlikely your customers will find you. Here’s some data to back that up: according to studies, the first page of results gets over 71% of search traffic while the second page only 6%.So, unless you can figure out how to get to the first page of Google search results and do it consistently, you’ll have a tough time driving traffic to your website.The good news? If you follow the seven steps outlined below, you’ll be able to get there and stay there!The 7 Steps for Search Domination (in Your Niche)Step 1. Know your customer as well as you know yourselfThe main challenge when connecting with prospects over the internet is that you don’t get the benefit of watching someone’s body language and facial expressions as they walk up to you. You’ll need to do extra work before reaching out to them.You don’t just want to know what they’re searching for; you also want to know why and what deep desire/challenge your product or service will help them solve. So, your first job is to create a written representation of your ideal customer.This document needs to capture their demographic data (who they are, what they do) and psychographic information about them (their goals and challenges, what drives them) so you can craft your message in a way that connects with them at a deeper level.Step 2. Learn what your customers are typing on Google searchesIf you don’t know what specific phrases people are using when searching for products and services in your niche, then you won’t be able to customize your site in response to those terms.The search-engine game is won and lost at the keyword level. Those businesses that constantly provide valuable information in response to the most searched keywords in their niche win the game every time.You need to perform online keyword research to unearth those specific phrases that drive traffic to your website.Step 3. Write blog posts that address those searchesOnce you’ve uncovered the set of keywords your customers are searching for you should write articles on your blog that address those keywords directly. This will help your website show up in search results.Those articles can be guides on how to use your product, or searches or product reviews and comparisons for searches that show purchasing intent (e.g. “best <product name>,” “<product name> review,” “<product A> vs <product B>,” etc.)The math here is quite simple: the more blog posts you create in response to user searches, the more people will click your link on search results and the more traffic you’ll generate for your website.Step 4. Learn Search Engine OptimizationSearch Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the set of technical tweaks that need to be done to your text so that Google can rank it high in search results.To rank your site, Google needs to break down your article into data it can measure so that its algorithm can “calculate” where your post should appear.So, to appear in the SERP you’ll need to write your posts for two separate audiences: the humans that’ll read them and the machine that’ll analyze them. If you miss the mark for either audience, you’ll fail to rank well on search results.Step 5. Craft your blog posts in a way that makes Google take noticeTo make it to the top, you’ll need to address more than just the original search. Google articles that give people what they’re searching for while also expanding to related areas for a richer search experience.For example, say you have a site about photography and write a post to address the following search: “best wide-angle camera lens” Why stop there? You might as well tease them with your other posts about the best digital cameras, best tripods, best lighting equipment, etc.Step 6. Link your posts together for better ranking resultsImprove your ranking further by group your articles into multiple content areas through internal linking. We call these“content clusters.”Let’s expand on the above photography example. If you write individual posts about ten different types of camera lenses, but you don’t interlink them in any way, readers who found one will not find the others unless they specifically search for them.Wouldn’t the user experience be much better if readers could find information about all ten lenses regardless of which article they happen to land on? Google’s algorithm thinks so too, and they’ll reward you if you link your blog content into clusters of information.Step 7. Get links from other sites and improve your rankings even furtherThere’s nothing Google values more than other people giving you a vote of confidence by linking to your articles from their websites.The more external links you attract, the more authority your site will accrue. In the online world, this is what’s called “link equity.” The higher the reputation from the linking site, the more link equity you’ll get, and the more valuable your website becomes over time.Your job is to reach out to your network to request that they add links to their sites pointing to articles on your website.Another approach is to offer to write guest posts on their sites addressing their readers’ needs and displaying links that take them back to your website for a deeper dive. The more links pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank in Google.In ConclusionSearch generates 53% of all internet traffic (in contrast, paid ads only generate 15%), so if you want to expand your online presence, you’ll need to go all-in on Google search.Now, keep in mind that even though this work requires effort and perhaps some cost (e.g., if you choose to hire a freelance writer or an SEO expert), you’re going to be investing in the creation of a long-term asset.In the internet world, traffic is currency, and one of the most sustainable ways to drive traffic to your site is by following the blogging strategy outlined in the seven steps above.Now, paid ads drive traffic too, but if you stop paying, your traffic goes to zero. On the other hand, blog articles will continue to drive traffic to your website for years to come at no additional cost!This post was written by Marcelo Beilin and originated on SCORE.