Everyone wants to show up on the first page of Google, but the truth is, everyone can’t be first. Those who follow the rules, give Google the information they want in the format that they require, do best. We recommend hiring a competent web professional with a proven track record for the best results. There are no tricks, but there are some things you can do yourself to improve the visibility of your site and increase your chances of ranking on the first page of Google for your specific keywords.
We’ve put together a list of things we believe are important to consider when trying to improve your ranking with Google and other search engines.
No one can guarantee that you will show up first.
In fact, no one can guarantee any particular placement. Exactly how Google determines rankings is a secret, but there are many factors that we know are important.
Here are just a few:
- How many times does the word/phrase being searched appear on the website?
- Are those words formatted properly according SEO guidelines?
- How much of the content on the website is relevant to the word/phrase?
- How many people already go to the website who are looking for similar information?
- Do the pages load quickly?
- What is the location of the person searching?
- Where is the company located that is providing the content?
- Is the site updated regularly?
- Is the site mobile-friendly?
- Does the site use HTTPS?
The question “How do we get on the first page of Google?” needs a qualifier.
How do we get on the first page of the search results when searching for what? It’s important that you understand exactly what search terms people will be looking for when they are trying to find what you are selling. More specific terms will have less competition, so the more specific a term is, the more likely you are to be matched up with it.
Let’s say that you sell real estate in Columbia County, NY. The keyword “land” is probably too competitive but the phrase “Land for sale in Columbia County NY” is more specific, accurate, and likely to show.
Professional associations and trade organizations often provide articles and other interesting text for use in newsletters or in-store handouts. We are often asked if using this canned copy on a website is a good idea. We strongly advise against it. Google wants unique content. Google can tell when the same information is available on more than one website. Not only will duplicate content not drive new traffic, Google will penalize you for it when it is discovered, and it will be!
Sites take time to fully index.
If your website is new, be patient. It is going to take a while for you to show prominently. Your competitors have been building their audience for years. It will take you a while to catch up. Getting on the first page of Google can take a while.
To improve your Google ranking, you must first understand how search engines work.
The single most important thing about a website today is the content it contains. Strong, relevant content is what will drive visitors to your site. Accurate, up-to-date information will keep them there. New, changing content will bring them back. FAQs pages and blog articles are a great way to naturally build in content that people planning to purchase what you are offering will be looking for.
The homepage matters.
It is tempting to choose a homepage layout whose single focus is a great photo or a series of great photos with little text. While great photos are important once you get people to your site, they have to find you first. And the way that they will find you is if what they are searching for matches with the content on your site. Search engines want lots of relevant words to index your site.
You want your site to look good, you want your website to be appealing to humans, but if you want your site to get found, you have to also consider the bots that index your site. For best results, your homepage should contain text that clearly and in some detail, explains who you are, what you do, and why someone should choose you over your competitors.
Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.
SEO is short for search engine optimization, the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as natural, organic, or earned results. In additional to having strong, unique, relevant content, the pages and posts have to be formatted (using tags and other techniques) in a way that Google can recognize and understand. There are simple things you can do each time you add new content to help search engines, but your best bet is to have a professional perform periodic SEO on your website.
What are you doing to promote your website?
Once your website is up and running, you want to continually promote it through all means possible: on your business cards, letterhead, on company vehicles, promotional products, and all advertising – print or electronic. If you want to get your website onto the first page of Google, you need to promote it off-site. When you already get a lot of good, relevant traffic, then Google will value your website more highly and potentially reward you with a higher ranking.
Don’t forget your customers and your staff. They are a huge asset. Make sure that they are familiar with your website so that they can share the love and use it as a referral tool for their friends and family. Getting on the first page of Google is everyone’s desire, but takes hard work to get there and persistence to stay here.
Consider using paid advertising using Google AdWords.
Search engine results are natural. You can’t pay to move to the top of the organic results. The sites that are showing up best are probably doing the best job.
You may be familiar with the advertising that appears at the top and right hand side of the Google search results page. This is called AdWords and it is an advertising service for businesses wanting to display ads on Google and its advertising network. These ads are generally pay-per-click, meaning you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad and visits your website. The prices are very reasonable and research shows that when you do AdWords in combination with SEO your website is likely to get even more traffic.