The first page of Google search results is like the mecca of all website owners and digital marketers. This is natural considering the fact that most internet users don’t tend to go past the Google first page results. In fact, the first search result gets more than 30% of all clicks on desktops.
Image via Advanced Web Ranking
It is evident that the click-through rate suffers a drastic decline after the top three search results. That is why business owners and marketers constantly strive to get their website higher up on the first page of Google.
A higher ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs) helps your target audience to discover your website. But why is it so important for a website to be present on the first page of Google? Let’s find out.
Search Engine Ranking: Why It Needs All Your Attention
“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google.” – Anonymous
This quote, while extremely humorous, isn’t completely unfathomable. When you search online for any information, you will mostly focus on the first page of Google search results. It is less likely that you will click through to the second or third page in order to find relevant information.
In fact, the previously cited CTR study revealed that the first three search results get 55% of all clicks. This clearly shows how important it is for your website to have a high search engine rank. It is crucial for increasing brand awareness and driving more traffic to your website.
In today’s day and age, it is crucial for every business, big or small, to have a strong online presence. Developing a unique product or service is no longer sufficient. You need to start an online conversation about your brand in order to attract your target audience.
Your company’s website is a crucial marketing tool that can be used to convey effective information about your brand. You can use it to attract potential customers and convert them into loyal brand advocates.
However, designing a great-looking website serves no purpose unless it receives substantial traffic.
A strong presence on the first page of Google ensures that your website is visible to your target audience. If your website has a top position in the SERPs, it is more likely that internet users will click on your link.
Since they are actively looking for information related to your brand, they are also more likely to become paying customers.
A higher rank on the first page of Google also indicates that the search engine perceives you as a trusted source of information. It acts as a stamp of approval and reinforces the credibility of your brand.
Google First Page: How Do You Get There?
You can get your website to the first page of Google in two different ways:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This refers to strategies that aim to increase your website’s search engine rankings in an organic manner.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising – With this approach, you pay search engines for a prominent position in the SERPs.
PPC campaigns are extremely effective at boosting website traffic within a short span of time. However, such ads are often perceived as less trustworthy by online users.
Therefore, if you want to get your website on the first page of Google, SEO is a more effective approach with longer-term benefits.
Before we dig deeper into SEO, let’s first try to understand how search engines such as Google typically operate.
Simply put, Google uses web crawlers or spiders to search the internet to find new web pages. These web pages are stored in databases called indexes.
When a user enters a search query, Google hunts these indexes to find relevant web pages. Google has introduced several algorithm updates such as Hummingbird and RankBrain to make their search results more relevant.
As a result, it often becomes increasingly difficult to secure and maintain a high search engine rank.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a set of techniques and tools that focus on directing organic traffic to your website from the search engines. It takes your website to the top of Google’s first page and helps it stay there. Which increases the visibility to your brand and drives more potential customers to your website.
High-quality content is at the heart of SEO. Search engines have a preference for websites that deliver valuable content. When you regularly publish meaningful and relevant content on your website, the search engines bots perceive you as an authority in your niche.
In addition, high-quality content also helps you grab the attention of your target audience and win their trust. Which will make them more likely to keep coming back to your website in search of valuable and insightful content. As a result, SEO is an effective way of boosting audience engagement and customer loyalty.
Internet users who reach your website via the search engines searched for terms related to your brand. Therefore, such users are more likely to convert into paying customers.
Due to this, SEO often delivers a better ROI than traditional advertising methods such as radio ads, television commercials, etc.
Moreover, unlike PPC campaigns, SEO doesn’t require you to pay search engines for a better position in the SERPs. Thus, the organic traffic coming to your website from the search engines is essentially free.
And it becomes difficult for your competitors to outrank you as long as you know how to maintain your search engine rankings.
It is evident that SEO is a very cost-effective way to reach a top position on Google’s first page. However, it is important to understand that it is an ongoing process and takes time to deliver noticeable results.
Now let’s take a look at some strategies that will fetch you a high search engine ranking.
Check for Indexing
Indexing is the process used by Google to identify new web pages and store them in different databases (known as indexes). Therefore, the first step is to check if your website has been indexed by Google. Otherwise, it will never see the light of the day on the first page of Google.
The easiest way to do this is to enter the following search query in Google: site:<your domain name>.
If the query returns a listing of your web pages, it indicates that your website has been indexed by Google. This means if your website has meaningful and high-quality content, then Google might include it in relevant search queries.
However, don’t sweat it if your web pages are not listed. You can submit them in the Google Search Console. Google usually takes a couple of weeks to visit your website and index all web pages.
Get Your Keywords Right
The next step is to identify the keywords you want to rank for. Keywords are terms and phrases that your target audience is likely to search for. Your entire SEO strategy is dependent on how relevant your keywords are to your brand and your products or services.
Identify Your Keywords
SEMrush is a great tool to find the most popular keywords in your niche. You can also use the Google Keyword Planner to obtain suitable keyword suggestions. To find the right keywords, it is important to have a clear understanding of your target audience and their needs and preferences.
It is also a good idea to take a look at the kind of keywords that your competitors are targeting. It is likely that these keywords will be relevant to your product or service as well. Identify your top competitors and enter their website URLs into a keyword research tool.
When searching for the right keywords, you don’t need to limit yourself to keyword research tools. You can also visit discussion forums such as Quora and Reddit and enter search queries related to your business. Then dig deep into the most popular threads to understand what kind of information your target audience is looking for.
It is also recommended that you take into account voice search queries. They are usually longer and more conversational in nature. They also include localized or “near me” search queries.
Image via Moz
With over 33 million devices featuring virtual assistants in circulation, this is one aspect that shouldn’t be ignored.
Validate and Analyze Your Keywords
Keyword research is not only about using a tool or forum to identify the most suitable keywords. You need to pick the ones that are worth targeting. In other words, you have to analyze and validate your keywords. Then decide whether or not you want to rank for them.
An easy way to do this is to install the Moz toolbar on your web browser. Pick any of your target keywords and run a Google search. Check the domain authority (DA) score of the first few search results with the Moz toolbar.
If you find most of the listed websites have a DA under 50, it means that the keyword faces fairly low competition. Targeting an uncompetitive keyword makes it relatively easier to achieve a higher ranking on the first page of Google.
You should also check if any of your target keywords are returning high-authority websites. If your website is new, it might be extremely difficult to outrank such a website. It is recommended that you refrain from using such keywords for SEO. You can, however, use them for PPC campaigns.
Outline a Powerful Content Strategy
The quality of the content on your website has a huge impact on your search engine rankings. Therefore, publishing high-quality content should be among your top priorities. At the same time, you need to ensure that your content satisfies a searcher’s need and intent.
Once you have identified your target keywords, it is time to create and publish top-notch content by integrating these terms into it. Keyword rich content is often perceived by the search engines as more relevant and meaningful. Therefore, you should integrate the keywords into your content in a seamless manner.
It is worth noting that merely stuffing your content with target keywords can do more harm than good. There was a time when content creators and marketers got away with such unfair practices. However, the introduction of Google’s Panda update has made things difficult.
The purpose of introducing Panda was to reward high-quality websites and penalize the low-quality ones. Therefore, indulging in black hat tactics such as content scraping, duplicate content, etc. means putting your website at risk. It increases your chances of getting penalized and even banned from Google search results altogether.
Become a Content Powerhouse
Create a FAQ page or blog that addresses common questions your target audience is most likely to ask. It is crucial to have a deep understanding of the problems and concerns of your target audience. You should publish insightful and valuable content that addresses these concerns.
In addition to making your content keyword-rich, you should also ensure that it is well-structured and error free. Use interesting headlines and subheadings to hold the attention of your readers.
This will help improve your website dwell time and bounce rate which, in turn, has a positive impact on search engine ranking.
It is also a good idea to update your existing content to prevent it from becoming outdated. You should also publish evergreen content on a regular basis to ensure that your content remains relevant in changing times.
Build a Powerful Inbound Link Profile
One of the most important factors that influences your website’s search engine rankings is the strength of your inbound link profile. When a number of high-authority websites provide backlinks to your website, it acts as a mark of quality. Search engines perceive this as a good sign and reward you with a higher ranking.
The key is to publish content of such high quality that it compels others to link to your website. It is equally important to promote your content across multiple channels so that people can actually discover it.
Strategies such as guest posting can also help you earn genuine and high-quality backlinks.
Utilize Social Media and Influencers
A strong presence on social media may not have a direct impact on your search engine rankings. However, that shouldn’t stop you from sharing your content on different social media platforms. If your content hits the right chord with your audience, they will share it further.
In addition to giving increased visibility to your content, this helps you earn authentic backlinks. If your content goes viral, it will have a positive impact on your inbound link profile. This, in turn, takes you closer to the top position on Google’s first page.
Likewise, you can collaborate with relevant influencers in your niche to promote your content. Owing to their massive reach, influencers can take your content to a far wider audience. Additionally, they can help you create engaging and user-centric content.
Deliver an Impeccable User Experience
Publishing high-quality content won’t be of much use if your website takes too long to load or is difficult to navigate. Search engines such as Google want to deliver the best search experience for their users. Therefore, in addition to high-quality content, they also prefer well-designed websites.
Your goal should be to develop a user-friendly website that loads considerably fast across different devices. Your users shouldn’t have to struggle to navigate from one web page to another. This ensures that users spend more time on your website, thus improving your bounce rate and dwell time.
In addition, you should also ensure that your website is mobile-responsive. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out how your website fares with respect to mobile devices. The tool also suggests changes that can be made to your website in order to make it more mobile-friendly.
You should ensure that your website has a fluid architecture. All web pages have their respective meta title and description incorporating relevant keywords. This is crucial for indexing purposes.
Claim Your Listings
It is crucial to create a Google My Business page for your brand with accurate details including address, contact number, etc. Make sure you provide a detailed business description that incorporates your target keywords. Choose relevant categories to describe your business.
This is particularly useful when you want to optimize your website for voice search queries such as “near me” ones. It also helps if your business is listed on Google Maps.
In addition, you should also list your website on different directories such as Yelp, Foursquare, and YP.com. This will improve your website’s inbound link profile. This, in turn, ensures that the search engines perceive you as a trusted source of information.
Did you know that Google changes their search algorithm 500-600 times every year? While major algorithm updates are announced publicly, minor changes may go unnoticed. However, even such small changes can affect your website’s search engine rankings and cause it to drop off from Google’s first page.
Therefore, it is crucial to stay abreast of all of the latest developments in SEO. You should constantly modify your SEO strategy to adapt to Google’s changing search algorithm.
Conduct Periodic Audits
Achieving a prominent position on Google’s first page isn’t enough. The real challenge is to maintain your position on the first page of Google once you have managed to reach it. You should carry out periodic on-page and off-page audits to ensure that your search engine ranking doesn’t drop.
Ensure that your website is free of duplicate and thin content. Keep your URLs short and simple, and ensure that they convey what a web page is about. In addition, you should check your meta titles and descriptions of different web pages to ensure that they incorporate relevant keywords.
Lastly, monitor your website’s inbound link profile to identify any toxic backlinks. You can use Google’s Disavow Links tool to get rid of such malicious backlinks.
Ranking on Google’s first page is every website owner’s dream. A high search engine ranking increases website traffic, thereby boosting brand awareness and credibility. However, securing a high rank on the first page of Google is not easy.
It requires you to develop a robust SEO strategy that involves thorough keyword research. High-quality content is the lifeblood of this strategy. You should have a deep understanding of your potential customers in order to create relevant content for them.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.