How soon can you get me on page 1 of Google’s search results? This may be the #1 most asked question of anyone in the business of Search Engine Optimization. Google that question. Google reports “About 1,260,000,000 results!” These include: How Do I Get My Website on the First Page of Google? How Long Does it Take to Get a 1st Page Google Ranking? And so it continues, page after page, expressing a sadly elusive dream!
In general, getting to page one of the Google Search Results Page (SERP) is difficult. And it grows increasingly difficult, both because Google’s algorithm is “smarter” than it used to be, and because there are so many more web sites competing for the same 10 spots than their used to be.
Google is always changing, but here’s what doesn’t change. To rank anywhere near page 1 of Google:
- Be sure your topic and keywords are clear and relevant to the search terms you believe are important to your business, to your customers, and to your prospects.
- Offer great content, better than anyone else, on that topic.
- Become recognized as an authority on the topic.
But above all, you need to commit to search optimization as a way of life! With SEO you can’t set it and forget it. Your competition does not rest, and neither can you. A great website is an ongoing effort. Even once you hit the magic ranking you are dreaming of, you have to work hard to stay there.
It’s easy to rank on page 1 – for a term that no one is searching for! If there is no competition, you can rank with minimal effort. But so what? On the other hand, if there is a great deal of competition for a specific term, it is not easy to rank among the top 10 spots on page 1.
So, first of all, you need to have a good idea what terms will be worth the effort. What do you want to rank for? More importantly, what are your prospects searching for?
There are many tools available to help determine approximate search volume for specific keyword phrases. The best known may be Google AdWords Keyword Planner (You need to have an AdWords account to use it, but you should anyway).
But once you know the monthly search volume (MSV) for a search phrase, then what? There’s a recent video post by Rand Fishkin on the topic of estimating keyword volume that I highly recommend.
In it, Fishkin explains the importance of “relative price competition” among those bidding on keywords in their PPC campaigns. When a click on a specific term is more expensive than on other keywords, that “usually means there are more advertisers willing to pay for that traffic.” So if you believe you can generate quality content with which to compete organically, it’s a good thing that those doing PPC have to pay more for their clicks. On the other hand, if you think it will be a long time before you are up to par on the organic side, look for cheaper phrases you can bid on while you build your organic content and your brand.
This is great advice and a solid way to understand how you can use PPC together with SEO to advance your goal of dominating the Google real estate for your niche!
For more on keyword strategy read our earlier post: The Secret to Successful Keyword Strategy
What is Great Content?
Every market is different. Generally, you should consider video, testimonials, customer reviews, and a blog. And you should look at your competitors. Focus on those that come up on page 1 for your keywords. What are THEY doing?
Of course, there isn’t a set formula for content that will work for every site in every situation. But, while I can’t tell you exactly what quality content means for your market, I can tell you how to measure it. Check for visitor engagement. Look at your conversion rate and your bounce rate frequently. Check for sudden sustained drops in conversions (be it ecommerce transactions or lead generation forms). Be on guard for sudden jumps in your bounce rate. Check what content is working and generating interest. Determine which content draws visitors in deeper, and which repels them. So, although there’s no simple formula for quality content, you’ll know it when you see it.
I mentioned that you need to be recognized as an authority. This generally means link building. If you represent a known brand, it’s easy. If not, you need to act like one! Provide solid links to relevant content, and at the same time do all you can to generate content that others will want to refer to. If you are a local company, there are many resources available to you to solidify your local digital footprint. Start by ensuring you’ve claimed your “Google My Business” listing (formerly Google Places).
Do not forget or neglect the code and structure of your pages. The goal of your code should be to facilitate access and understanding by users, by browsers, and by search engines. Use clean, valid code. Use micro formats (schema.org) wherever possible. Read the rules and ensure you follow them. Get our simple SEO cheat sheet to see the on-page basics.
Okay, So? Really – When Can You Get Me to Page 1?
I know, I haven’t actually answered the question. But first, you need to ask the right question. Are you implementing the strategies I’ve described here? Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your site and of your content? Do you know what your prospects are looking for? Most importantly, do you think your site is the best it can be?
Summary: 4 Tips to Get to Page 1 of Google
- Understand what’s important to your prospects when they are sitting in front of Google looking for solutions
- Offer incredible content in response
- Provide an amazing user experience so they dig deeper or fill out a contact request form, or make a purchase
- Get inbound links through local SEO, blog-writing, and distribution of great content in general
If you do all that, the odds improve dramatically that Google will want to provide your site as a top result for related searches. If you aren’t there yet, you need to figure out which of these items is the bottleneck and fix it.
If you are starting from scratch, follow this approach. Our experience has been, that with an ongoing concerted effort, we begin to see solid rank movement within 3-4 months for reasonably competitive keywords. We see top page results over longer periods for a wide variety of related long-tail keyword search phrases. Remember always that your competitors are not sitting still either. SEO is a way of life. Not something you attain and forget.
Let us know if you find this helpful. And try our free SEO audit to see how your site measures up!