How do I rank 1st on Google?

Good question. No easy answer.

In the marketing world, any action taken to improve the rank of your website on Google (or any other search engine) is referred to as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. The goal of SEO is to get your site showing up in the search engine‘s organic (unpaid) search results. In general, the more a site appears as a search result and the higher it is on those results pages, the more visits it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO is not easy.

Why should I care about SEO?

The latest research shows that almost 98% of people searching never go beyond the first page of results. In addition, almost 35% of all traffic goes to the very first result! With over a billion searches happening on Google everyday it’s not hard to see that being on the first page of Google is very important!

WOW! So how the heck do I get my company on the first page?

Now that is a much bigger question. Let me first explain how Google actually chooses which sites rank on the first page as well as which get the coveted first position.

The first thing to understand is that Google’s main business is to help people searching for information find the BEST results for their search. They want this because it means that lots of people are using the site and they can make money selling ad space (these ads are a topic for another day). Their business has been built on being able to provide quality results to those using their service. If people stop finding Google’s service useful or that the information they get is not relevant to their search, Google will die a very quick death. This is why they do not allow you to cheat the system by paying to get your results higher in the organic ranking. As soon as they allow people to buy spots here, the results become less and less relevant and their service begins to move to obsolescence.

That may be hard to believe since big business typically seems to find a way to block the little guys and always get those top positions, but in reality, that’s more often the “natural” result of their greater visitor activity (which we’ll get into later). Small business can actually compete here: the business that provides the most relevant information for a search is going to be the one that shows up at the top of the results and on the first page. There are plenty of examples of very small companies owning the top search result against much larger competitors because they built their site to provide valuable, relevant information to someone searching.

Ok, I think I get it. So, how does Google decide which information is the most relevant?

Google judges which site makes it to the top in two ways. 

  1. On page: On-page metrics refer to the actual content and layout of a web page. This means everything from page titles and site code to the actual words being used on the page (also called keywords). When Google looks through your site, the information must be clearly laid out and labelled so that Google can understand what information is being provided. Google will then look at the length and quality of the content to judge whether the information is relevant to the search. This means you not only have to have the content labelled properly and laid out cleanly, but the actual information itself needs to be useful and interesting.
  2. Off page: This refers to anything about you online that’s not on your website, and can be things like the number of outside links pointing to your site or other online engagements like social media and mentions. The most important are the links pointing to your site.This could be anything from a link by a local online newspaper referencing your company to a listing in a business directory. Google looks at links and uses them as a gauge of your relevance in that area. The more people talking about your web page, the more likely the content was useful and valued by those who read it.

That seems like a lot of work that will take a long time! Is there any way to get this done quicker? I’ve heard SEO companies promise first page, top spot results in just weeks.

Yes, the reality of SEO today is that it is a lot of work, and it does take a long time. There was a period when you were able to cheat the system. You could do things like write in white letters on a white background with the keywords repeated over and over so that Google thought the keyword was all over the site and so ranked the site higher. Or you could submit your site to obscure directories all over the world for more links. But Google caught on and made updates to track down such practices and punish the websites with low or no search rankings – a practice that continues today. The next trick was to trade links with other companies or pay bloggers or other sites to post your links. Companies started to pump out high quantity, low quality articles and blogs to make Google think they had lots of great content. Again, this worked for a while but Google caught up and responded by blocking paid links and assessing content to decipher whether it was good and valuable or not. Which brings us to the present day, where Google has many different ways to judge the type of content that’s being produced, its producers and the quality of a site’s links. What you are presenting simply has to be great for Google to value it, whether it’s content, layout or links.

There is one major takeaway from this: even if you find a way, it will only work for a short while. And when you are caught the punishment will be so severe it won’t have been worthwhile. Google invests in some of the smartest minds all over the world, dedicated to trying to stop you from cheating their system.

OK so what do I need to do? How can Worksites help me?

The answer to this is actually quite simple. For on-page SEO, write original content for your website and as you do, ask yourself this question:

 “If I landed on this page for the first time what would I want to learn?”

When you’ve written content that answers that question, get friends outside of your industry to read it over to make sure you actually have. Fortunately, the Worksites system is built to do most of the basic on-page SEO functions for you: the sites are cleanly laid out, the code is to the highest standards and when you answer all of the questions thoughtfully and thoroughly, the site produced will be very on-page SEO-friendly.

For off-page SEO, there are many different things you could do but these are a few basics: 

  • Use social media. Google looks at the amount of action a site gets via social media and adds that to a site’s credibility. As far as which platforms, facebook is a must, Google+ is advised.
  • Get reviews. Any site that allows people to review your service, your company should be registered on. Actively try to get people to post reviews of your company there. Again, Google+ is a great tool for this. Google obviously is going to favour its own social media service and, while it is not the most used service, it is a great tool for getting customers to review you and to post information about your services and products.
  • Be in legitimate directories. Make sure any reputable site that allows companies to list themselves has your company registered in it (like Yellow Pages, BBB, EiEi Home and others).

These simple tasks will start you on the path to improving your website’s rank. I know this seems like a long game and you probably know companies that are not following these rules. In fact, it may even look like they are using the cheater methods and are getting results for their efforts, but don’t worry. They will be caught. Every day SEO companies are going out of business and websites are being penalized or blacklisted because of the dubious methods they tried to pull off.

We’ll continue to provide you with information like this in the future, as well as any tips to help you in the process (even with some legit 3rd party partnerships), but in the meantime, don’t lose patience and understand that SEO is a long-term game and needs to be approached with a mindset of months and years, not hours and days. Good luck!