Every business has dreams of making it to the first page of Google, but at times SEO (search engine optimisation) can seem like dark magic – with many companies hoping to find a shortcut to get them ranked at the top quickly.
While it would be nice to get ranked number one from the get-go building up your position in the Google rankings can take time and perseverance.
A study recently found that a page that ranked in the top 10 was typically over two years old and of the pages that ranked on the first page, only a fifth were less than a year old.
The same study showed that only six per cent of pages made it to the top 10 within two to six months of going live.
However, that is not to say that there aren’t steps that you can be taking now to improve your chances of hitting the front page.
Here are our seven tips to the top:
A Good Website
This may seem obvious, but regardless of how many keywords or clever tricks you employ, if the structure of your website is poor and it is difficult to navigate, SEO won’t make a difference.
Google’s algorithms score sites on how ‘useable’ they are. The Google algorithm incorporates hundreds (if not thousands) of signals, plus machine learning to determine search rankings and will rate your site poorly if it is confusing and difficult to navigate.
It is really easy to unintentionally duplicate content, especially if you are running multiple landing pages. It is not uncommon to find multiple versions of the same page that you are trying to promote – these can even be legacy pages you had forgotten to remove.
Unfortunately, the algorithms may perceive this as an intentional attempt to spam them and this can sometimes reduce rankings as a result.
Google operates on a mobile-first approach now. Most of the searches and visits it handles will come from mobile devices, which is why your site must pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
When indexing and ranking a page Google will now tend to check how it performs on a mobile device, so if your site is not responsive to this then you are unlikely to rank well.
You should also think about what users want to do on your site and whether these can be performed easily via a mobile device. If they can’t then you may find that your ranking suffers.
This year Google has been focusing more on the performance of sites and how they work on a variety of devices.
If your site takes a long time to load or there are several data-hungry features, such as high definition multi-media that could slow down a device, this may have an impact on your ranking.
Google has launched the PageSpeed tool to help benchmark performance, but if you find that your page is performing poorly you should consider the following:
- Browser caching
- Improved script handling
- Image size-reduction
- Stripping out unnecessary multimedia
Link It All Up
Internal and external links play an important role in SEO ranking, particularly when it comes to the quality of backlinks.
Google’s algorithms look at the links on your site and see whether they are connected to a reputable well-ranked site and whether that site then links back to your own.
Where you can establish a strong link, this can significantly improve your position. Google will continually check links on your site, so any broken links must be removed.
To help with finding good links you can use the Google Alert system to find where your brand is being mentioned online and where relevant provide a link to that page on your website.
In the case of press coverage, you could do this via a dedicated ‘In the Press’ page or for events you could link promoted events elsewhere to your own events page.
The basics of on-page search optimisation are easy to follow and there is a simple checklist offered by Google to help you make sure that the page covers everything that it needs to.
To help Google understand the content on each page it says that you should:
- Create unique, brief and descriptive titles for each page
- Each title should be natural and descriptive – avoid listing keywords
- Use attractive meta descriptions
- Submit a sitemap to Google
- Tell Google which pages shouldn’t be crawled
- Use heading tags to emphasise important text
- Act in a way that cultivates user trust
- Make expertise and authoritativeness clear
- Avoid distracting advertisements.
Trial and Error
There is somewhat of a science to SEO, but there is also a degree of luck. Sometimes you may find that, for whatever reason, your page instantly ranks highly, but other pages, with a higher number of competitors may take months to hit the first page.
While this can be very frustrating, it is important that you persist with your efforts for as long as possible and keep a record of your changes to see what is and isn’t working.
This can be a very time-consuming process so it makes sense to outsource your site’s SEO to a professional, who can invest the time required and has the necessary skills to improve your ranking quickly.
We have a fantastic record of improving site SEO and have helped many clients hit the front page of Google with our approach.
To find out how we can help you rank better on Google, please contact us.