August 24, 2014
There are an endless number of factors that go into determining how your site ranks.
By Maureen McCabe
In an ideal world, your small business website would show up on the first page of Google’s search engine results for all of your main keyword terms. In reality, however, this is extremely difficult to achieve. If you have any experience in do-it-yourself search engine optimization (SEO) or working with an SEO agency, you probably already know that getting your website ranking well takes time and effort.
Still, many blogs, how-to articles, and SEO providers out there make claims that you can get your site to rank number one — and fast! It’s important to realize that these are just false promises. In the ever-changing world of SEO and online marketing, it’s tough to guarantee that your website will ever get a first-page ranking.
Though great rankings aren’t always a sure thing, it is still possible to get a first-page ranking for your business website. With a combination of the right strategies, hard work, and consistency, you can work towards the rankings you want.
How Does Google Decide Who Gets a First-Page Ranking?
No single SEO strategy on its own will get you ranking on the first page of Google. However, a combination of tactics along with a bit of good luck can help you climb up in the search engine rankings. No one knows the exact formula of what your website needs to have in order to achieve a page-one ranking — Google keeps its secrets close — but we do know enough about how Google works to understand some of the factors that can impact your rankings.
Google uses algorithms to assess a multitude of things when it comes to your website. Google wants to provide highly relevant results for searchers, so sites that are seen as high quality, regularly updated, and provide good, useful content to users are more likely to rank on the first page of Google. On the other end of the spectrum, spammy websites with poor-quality information and content made up of gibberish are unlikely to rank well, since the algorithm filters them out of results.
Google’s ultimate goal is to serve up great webpages that provide the answers that searchers are looking for. If your small business website doesn’t yet have a first-page ranking, don’t worry! There are steps you can take to improve your site and make it a valuable resource for users.
Warning: Watch Out for Companies That Guarantee Rankings
It sounds great in theory — an SEO company guarantees to get your site ranking on page one for a certain number of your keywords. They might actually get you ranking for keywords related to your business… but those keywords may not be traffic drivers. Sure, they can rank you for these five particular keyword searches, but no one is actually searching for them! This makes it much easier for an SEO company to get your site to rank on page one, since the competition for those keywords is much lower.
Maybe the company does fulfill its promise to get one of your top keywords on page one — but you’re in the 10th spot. Studies show that the 10th spot result gets just 2.4% of clicks, while the first result gets more than 32% of the total number of clicks. Being in that 10th place spot isn’t really going to bring you a lot of new business.
Even if you do eventually reach the top, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay there. Your site may remain the number-one spot for a month, then suddenly drop to #30. Google is always updating its algorithm and refreshing its results. What worked one month ago to get your top ranking may not be what works today.
These examples are just a few of the things you need to be aware of before you sign a contract with any SEO company. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post on the ins and outs — and red flags — of SEO contracts!
Being On the First Page is Not Enough
So, your site is ranking on the first page of Google’s results. Now what? Just because you are on the first page doesn’t mean that your potential small- or mid-sized customers are going to click through to your website. Nor does it mean that they are ever going to work with you or buy your product. In order to convert visitors into leads or customers, you’re going to need to employ a number of tactics.
For example, having interesting, valuable content that your website visitors want to read is essential to keep them on your site, and keep them coming back. The layout and usability of your website also play a role in converting users. Additionally, how you promote your site’s content across social media impacts who sees you and subscribes to your updates.
Overall, simply ranking your website on the first page of Google is not everything when it comes to SEO. Rankings can come and go quickly. It’s more important to focus on putting together a great website with relevant content that really answers searchers’ questions.
To read more small business marketing tips about SEO, take a look at these blog posts:
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