When you have a website for your business, one goal should take precedence over all else: appearing on page one of Google’s search engine results pages (and the higher, the better).
The distinction “Number One” has always had a major significance, it means clinching the top spot, being the best, coming in first place ahead of the competition, becoming the undisputed leader—all positive associations that help build impressive reputations and denote excellence (except, of course, in things like Most Wanted lists but we won’t be going there).
A high ranking means that a website is more visible to millions of people using the internet to look for information, products and services through specific keywords—and that the company behind that business gets a bigger share of visitors, and thus more conversion and engagement opportunities.
Crunching the numbers
Generally, studies show that websites that place in the first three positions of Google’s page one gets an average traffic share of 60%. The entire page one, on the other hand, gets about 90%. A rough translation would be that at least 9 out of 10 people only look through page one—they do not proceed to look through the results in page two, or in any more of the succeeding pages.
To put it simply, the businesses that have reached page 1 for their chosen keywords are much more likely to get the business.
There are two major reasons why internet users only click on results in the first page:
They are thought to be more credible. Google analyses and ranks websites and individual Web pages based on the quality they provide for Internet users. As such, people understand that the top results are there for one reason: Google has dubbed them high-quality sites that offer true value in relation to the keywords that were used in the search.
And of course, as previously mentioned, whichever is in the number one spot is considered the entry that will be best able to give them the information that they need.
They have no time to scroll through page two. Today’s Web users want relevant, useful information, when they want it. It is an automatic assumption that Google has done the work of filtering out the fluff and leaving only the best possible matches to search queries in the first page. So there’s certainly no need to click to page two and waste time on less relevant results.
Securing a top spot
So in this instance, we all want to be sitting at the cool kids’ table, or the front-row seats—that’s Google’s page one. How can we be sure to get there, as far as our businesses’ websites are concerned?
In order to get those coveted page one spots, we make use of search engine optimisation or SEO—the collective term for techniques, strategies and measures employed by marketers to obtain a high rank in Google’s search results pages and consequently increase the number of the site’s visitors.
It’s no secret that Google continually modifies its algorithms to ensure that only top quality websites get high ranks. However, there are tried-and-tested measures that can be employed to maintain our sites’ excellent and consistent performance and to keep organic traffic coming:
Be mindful of selecting relevant content topics
Whenever you’re writing content for your website, you should have one person in mind…your reader. Sounds obvious…right? Your content should be helping them solve problems and get the types of answers they are looking for from Google, even if that answer is “Hire us to help”. Many skilled business owners have an abundance of great information to share, but before writing a piece of mind-blowing content must decide whether it’s aimed at potential customers and helping them make a decision, or perhaps their peers, sharing a piece of useful information which positions themselves as an expert within their industry. I’ll leave you to decide which one of those markets you think we’re aiming this blog at, but once that decision is made it has an effect on the style, the language and importantly, where the blog gets promoted once it’s written.
But let’s take a step back, how do you know what your reader’s problems are? What could you write about that people would be interested in, because let’s face it, if nobody is asking the question, they’re probably not looking for the answer.
The E-mail Inbox – What are the most common questions you get asked as a business? If your customers are asking those questions there is a good chance that your potential customers are as well. We are often asked how to get a business’s website higher up the search engine rankings, one of the reasons we are writing this blog now, hopefully that will help you answer the question of who this blog is aimed at. Sure, we offer SEO services, but for those who aren’t sure SEO is right for them, or aren’t in a position to outsource right now, sharing useful information is a great way to tell the world that we know what we are talking about. So, if your most common question is “What’s the best dog bed on the market?” write a blog about it, you’ll be amazed how many new people it can bring to your site.
Quora – Quora is a website where people go to ask questions, and the number of topics covered is endless. Let’s stick with the example of dog beds, a quick search on the term returns 26 questions (click here to view questions) including What are the best Orthopedic dog beds?, Why does a dog require a dog bed? and Do dogs like heated beds? Could someone who sells dog beds write a blog post on these topics? Absolutely. Will it bring more people to their website? As long as you tell people it’s there. Sign up for a Quora account and leave a response to the questions, giving them an answer but directing them to your website for a fuller blog you’ve posted. This works for most industries, especially B2B.
Google Keywords Tool – Anybody who is serious about building their business online should be signed up with Google Adwords, not because you’re going to be taking out paid ads, but the Keyword research tool is a must when developing content. By being a bit smarter about your keywords and working them into your Page Title, Blog Title and used (within reason) throughout your blog, it’s possible to target some high volume terms with little competition.
Let me give you an example. The term “fancy dress” is searched for (on average) 135,000 times a month in the UK, however the competition is very high and without a great deal of money and time getting onto the first page for that term is unlikely. However if we look for a more targeted keyword, we may get less people searching for it, but the completion is lower and the chances of ranking are increased. The term “Costume Hire” is searched for 6,600 times a month but the competition is medium, we could also look at medium to long tail keywords such as “Fancy Dress Shops” (12,100 searches, medium competition). The gold we are looking for is the low competition, high volume keywords, “Group Fancy Dress Ideas” gets 3,600 searches a month with low competition.
If you run a fancy dress business, get writing your “Looking for Group Fancy Dress Ideas” blog NOW, 60% of 3,600 is much better than 0% of 135,000.
Provide a positive user experience every single time
How many times have you visited a website only to be frustrated that you can’t find what you’re looking for, or have been bombarded with adverts and pop-ups to the point of wanting to just pull the plug straight from the wall? User experience means different things to different people, some feel it’s about an attractive and appealing design, some feel it’s about useful and relevant content, some feel it’s about speedy page load times, some feel it’s all of the above. If you’re not sure whether your website if offering a quality user experience why not set up a focus group and ask.
Top Tip: Don’t ask your mum what she thinks of your website, she’ll always tell you it’s “lovely”.
Think about how easy it is for someone to get to where they want to on your site, if they can’t find the information they are looking for easily, there’s a good chance they’ll go somewhere else.
Make sure that the website is mobile-friendly
2015 was the year of MOBILEGEDDON. In April, Google announced a new mobile friendly algorithm that would give mobile friendly websites a boost in the rankings. This meant that any website that was not easily viewable on all devices would struggle to reach the higher pages of Google.
If you know a web-designer or anyone who works in digital you’ve probably heard this before, but now that the amount of searches on mobile have exceeded desktop searches it’s more important than ever that you ensure your website is “responsive”. This isn’t just for the rankings, but the majority of people prefer sites that they don’t have to stretch and skew to be able to read the content. You can check you “mobile-friendliness” by visiting the Google Mobile Friendly Test.
Keep providing content that can be easily shared across online platforms
There is still an ongoing debate about whether “Social Signals” affect your Search Engine rankings, in fact Google have outright denied it, but regardless of this Social Media is a great way to drive traffic to your site and make more people aware of your services.
You should be making it very easy for people to share your content, for example if you’ve enjoyed this blog and would like to share it with others, you’ll see some Social Sharing buttons at the top right of the text. But how do you know what type of content is sharable. Just because somebody is looking for an answer to a question doesn’t mean they’ll want to share that with others.
BuzzSumo is a great tool for seeing the type of content that performs well on various Social Media platforms. For example if I was to type in “SEO Ranking”, you can see the type of content we are writing, Facebook is still the most likely place to get a large number of shares with Linkedin and Twitter not that far apart. We can also see that News and How-to guides are the most popular types of content. Try inputting your industry and see what comes up.
Observe natural link building practices
Finally, there is always the temptation to respond to that e-mail in your spam folder that offers page 1 rankings for only $15. I can promise you, if you’re only paying $15 it’s probably not going to work and if it does, it won’t be long before Google is handing out penalties and you find yourself in a worst position to the one you started in.
The only way to get great Google rankings and ones that are going to last for a long time to come is to earn good quality backlinks.
How do you do this?
There are many ways to earn quality organic backlinks, far too many to go into in this blog but if you’re looking for a few ways to get you started, consider these.
Ask for a link
If you know a website where you think customers may be a able to benefit from what you have to offer, ask if the site will link to your page. This may be a wedding photographer linking to a cake maker, or a florist. As my mum always said, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Offer to create content for somebody else’s website, we often guest blog for other websites and every one of those links which comes back to our site helps us climb the rankings. Start off with smaller sites and build up a reputation as a company who loves to share information and before you know it people will be coming to you and asking you to write for them.
Of course, guest blogging is not just about link building. It’s also a great way to build authority in your sector. By offering valuable information, you can quickly become the go to person for further advice and paid work.
Build a Blogger Network
Getting to know other bloggers can be a great way to get your name known, and on many sites leaving a comment on a blog can send traffic back to your site. Again, try to offer value to the blogger and add to what they’ve said, it’s also fine to disagree but be respectful that you’re on someone else’s domain. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Just to recap, there are lots of ways to give Google what they are looking for to increase your ranking. For many businesses who do not have the time to focus on this themselves there is always the option of outsourcing to companies like ourselves who spend a great deal of tie keeping up with the latest strategies and techniques to get businesses onto that coveted first page for search terms that bring them customers.
By striving to attain page one status, we can bring Web users closer to the products, services and information that we offer in our websites and provide the best solutions to their needs—which should be any Number One Business’s goal.
Cover photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/