Google’s first page is something akin to Boardwalk on a Monopoly board: they’re both the most valuable piece of real estate in their respective worlds. Of course, the major difference is that landing on Boardwalk involves merely a roll of the dice. How to get your website on Google’s first page? Not quite as easy.
Despite what many search engine marketers might tell you, there’s no real secret on how to get your website on Google’s first page. It’s really a matter of patience, hard work, and understanding search engine optimization (SEO) in order for your website’s ranking on Google to be as high as possible – maybe even on page 1!
Here are 9 tips to help you get you ranked on the first page:
1. Domain age
If your website is a few years old, you already have an advantage. Studies have shown that older websites tend to rank higher than new ones because the website (and your business) is established. If your website is new, there isn’t much you can do to speed up the clock – just hang in there and use the tips in this article in the meantime.
2. Mobile friendly
You may have heard of the term “responsive website”. This refers to websites that look great, function smoothly, and provide a seamless user experience on mobile devices.
Why is this so important? In 2020, more people used mobile devices than desktop/laptop computers to access the Internet. Google knows this and has built responsiveness into their search algorithm to ensure that websites are delivering an optimum experience on both platforms.
Optimizing for mobile means that your content is viewable on a small screen, your menus are accessible, and ads don’t get in the way of your messaging. Many WordPress themes automatically include responsive versions out of the box, but be sure to thoroughly test your website on mobile to be sure it works well.
3. Website speed
If your pages on desktop and mobile are slow to load, your customers aren’t going to stick around to wait. Google places a high emphasis on user experience, something you can provide with pages that load quickly.
You can help improve website speed with such strategies as compressing images and using fewer plugins. You can use Google Search Console to test your site speed and get advice on how to improve it.
4. Website accessibility and security
Your website needs to be accessible to Google so it can look at your content in order to understand what it’s about. This means having an accessible URL, clear, understandable website code, and a sitemap that lists your website’s pages.
Your website will also have to be SSL enabled to meet Google’s security requirements and rank better on the search engine results page.
5. Search-optimized content
High-quality content plays an enormous role in your website’s searchability (content isn’t “king” for nothing!). It’s one of the most important ranking factors to attract organic search traffic to your website.
Great content can help your Google search results in four important ways:
Search relevance: Keywords are at the heart of Google’s search algorithm. They’re based on words and phrases your customers will use when searching for your business online. You can try researching target keywords on your own or hire a professional search marketer to do it for you. An expert can research important stats about keywords, such as search volume and difficulty, and ensure you get the best quality results based on buyer intent.
Strategic keyword use: Determine different short and long-tail keywords for each page, and use them strategically within your page content and blog posts. Your primary keyword should be used in your page titles, H1 tags, first paragraph, and peppered through the content. Other keywords can be used as H2, H3, and image tags. Quick warning: overusing your keywords is called “keyword stuffing”, which Google can identify and penalize your rankings as a result.
Content Length: There is research that suggests that content over 2,000 words is most effective for SEO and gets shared more often. However, we don’t suggest stretching out articles simply to reach that goal. It’s always advisable to write articles that your audience will enjoy, offers value, and is of a depth appropriate for your topic.
Content mix: Good quality content involves more than just written words, and extends to images, pictures, graphics, and even video. Video is especially key because it helps extend the amount of time people spend on your website. Google tracks time spent on your site, so the longer they’re there, the better your search rankings.
6. Create links
Now that you’ve created your content, you need to develop a link strategy that connects your content to other related, trustworthy websites. When you link with authoritative websites, it shows Google (and your audience) that you’re trustworthy too. Google places a high value on quality linking, and your search results will benefit from it.
There are three types of links to consider when building your link strategy:
Inbound links: Also called backlinks, inbound links are links from outside sources to your website. This includes links from your social media platforms, but good quality links from authoritative websites can make a huge difference in your search results.
Outbound links: As the name suggests, these links come from your website and connect to external websites. Including relevant outbound links shows that you’ve done your research to build your content.
Internal links: Linking to other pages on your website helps your content support one another, helps give your users supplemental or related information, and gets people clicking more on your website – which Google loves!
7. Social shares
Make sure that your website content is shareable on different social media platforms. When people help broadcast your content to their different social media streams, it shows Google that you provide useful, relevant content, benefitting your search rankings.
8. Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the summaries that show in the search engine results. Since they affect click-through rates (CTR) and bring more people onto your website, they can also help influence SEO results. Keep meta descriptions short and catchy – no more than 167 characters – and make sure to include your primary keywords within it.
9. User activity
Google takes user activity into consideration to help determine your search rankings, using AI to track important information from your website, such as:
Click-through rate: The percentage of people who click on a search result to visit your website.
Dwell time: A measurement of how long visitors stay on your website.
Bounce rate: The percentage of people who land on your website, but then quickly go back to the search results page.
Maintaining a low bounce rate is crucial because the more people click away after seeing your content, the more Google will determine that your content doesn’t meet their needs, thus resulting in lower search results. To correct this, try integrating different keywords into your titles, descriptions, and content.
10. Focusing on local traffic
If you’re targeting customers in your local area, capturing local traffic is particularly important. You can optimize for this by including business information such as an address, phone number, and hours of operation on directories such as Google My Business and Yelp, as well as on your Facebook business page.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a technical expert to implement most of these tips, but it helps to have an expert in your corner to help steer you in the right direction. And that direction is up – to the top of Google’s first page!