How Do I Get My Website on the First Page of Google?
So you want to get your website on page 1 of Google, but you're not sure how? Well, you've come to the right place! I've ranked dozens of websites on page 1 of Google, and I'm going to show you how you can do the same.
First, let's start with a quick primer on how Google and other search engines work.
How Google (And Other Search Engines) Work
The first thing you should realize about Google is that Google is NOT the Internet. Just because your website does not show up on Google, does not mean it is not on the Internet. Your website can be published live on the Internet without being displayed in Google's search results for a particular keyword.
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The way Google and other search engines display websites is this: Google has automated computer systems working around the clock that randomly visit websites all over the Internet, take snapshots of each page, and file them away in a massive database.
As part of taking a snapshot of each web page, Google's system reads every word and other content on a web page (like photos, videos, audio files, etc) in order to determine the specific subject of the page. Google uses this collected data to determine which web pages to show, and in what order, for a particular keyword search.
In other words, Google's computer algorithms dynamically determine which web page on the Internet is the most relevant for a specific key word or key phrase and displays it first. It then displays the second most relevant page, and so on. The resulting list of web pages is known as a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
A SERP can be made up of several sections:
- The top section usually consists of 3 or 4 paid text ads that relate to the keyword used to conduct the search
- If Google thinks the user is looking for a local business nearby, it will add a section below the paid ads called the Local Map Pack
- The main section in the middle consists of "organic" (non-paid) listing of web pages that are relevant to the keyword used to conduct the search
Example Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
Example Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
How Do I Get My Site On Google?
First, you need to make sure your website has been indexed by Google. To find out if it is, type site:yourdomain.com into the Google search box, replacing yourdomain.com with your actual domain name. If you see a listing of your website's pages, then Google has already indexed your site and will continue to visit it occasionally to check for updates. If your website is not listed, submit it here: http://www.google.com/addurl. It will take 1 or 2 weeks for Google to visit and index your website.
Secondly, remember, Google will only display web pages that are relevant to the keyword being searched. The first step is to make sure your web page's text is related to the keyword in question. If it's not, chances are Google won't show it.
Third, just because your website does not show up on the first page, doesn't mean it is not showing up at all. Go to the bottom of the results page and click "Next" for page 2 and so on. Your website may be on page 2, page 82 or somewhere in between.
Okay, My Website Is On Google, But It's On Page 41! How Do I Get It To Show On Page 1?
Ah! You've asked the million dollar question. An entire industry has been built to answer this question and millions of dollars are spent each year to accomplish this! My first question for you is, "How much money do you have?" Just kidding, but seriously, the good news is there are two main ways to get your website to show up on the first page of Google:
- You can pay to be on the first page of Google and it doesn't have to be a lot of money. This is called Google Ads.
- You can get your website to rank "organically" without having to pay for ads.
I'll explain both below...
Google Ads (Pay to Play!)
The quickest and easiest way to get on page 1 of Google for a particular keyword is to pay for an advertisement. You sign up with Google, choose the keywords you would like to target, then "bid" (yes, like an auction) on how much you would like to pay every time your ad is clicked on. This is called "pay-per-click". The higher you bid per click, the higher your ad will appear to the top of the page, all other things being equal.
You can also set a daily budget so that when your budget is met, Google will not show your ad any more that day so it won't be clicked on and you won't be charged. For most industries, this is a cheap and easy way to show up on Google's first page.
For other industries (like lawyers, for example), it can be very expensive. Some keywords cost up to $100 per click or more!
Consider Hiring a Google Ads Pro
Be careful with Google Ads. They make it very easy to sign up and start showing ads on their platform (Bing has a very similar platform). But if you don't know what you are doing, you can waste a lot of money with Google Ads. Considering the fact that I happen to be a professional who is certified by Google in AdWords campaign creation, management and optimization, I suggest you leave it up to a pro to create and manage your Google Ads campaigns.
If the professional or agency you hire knows what they are doing, they will more than pay for themselves when it comes to return on investment. For example, if your pro or agency charges you a fee of $1,500/mo to manage and optimize your AdWords campaigns, and they are doing things right, you should get much more than a $1,500/mo benefit from having hired them.
There are literally hundreds of different settings and features you can add or tweak for any one Google Ads campaign. If you don't get them all correct, you could waste or lose out on a lot of money each month. Hire a pro with proven results if you have the budget. If you don't have the budget to hire a pro to manage your Google Ads campaigns, I recommend staying away from paid search advertising.
Getting on Google Organically
The other way to get on page 1 of Google and other search engines is the organic, or natural, method. These are the main results that show up below the ads or local map section on search engine results pages (see graphic above).
These results cannot be achieved by paying money to Google - they are achieved with careful and long-term optimization of many factors that Google uses when ranking relevancy. The practice of optimizing your web presence so that it shows up organically on Google is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Some of the most important factors that influence your Google page 1 ranking are:
- Quality and Length of Your Page Content - Your website's pages should be full of unique and useful information that will benefit your ideal customer or client. The longer the better, as long as it is high quality. Strive to help your target audience by creating quality content that they will want to consume (like this article!).
- Quality and Number of Inbound Links - If other sites are linking to yours, especially big important sites that have content relating to yours, then Google will rank your site higher. Third party links to your website provide a "thumbs up" or vote of confidence that signals to Google that your content might be worth pushing higher up the SERP.
- Mobile Friendly Website - The majority of people are now using mobile phones to search for information on the web. Are your website pages mobile-friendly? Your site should be optimized for mobile devices and easy to navigate so users on any device can find what they need quickly and easily.
- Page Speed - Your web pages should load fast on all devices. Slow loading web pages could negatively affect your ranking on Google. Nobody likes to wait several seconds for any website to load. You can conduct a free page speed test here or use a tool like Gtmetrix to test your website page speed.
- Keywords in Page Content - Obviously, if the keywords you are targeting actually appear on your site in the text and titles of the pages, you will rank better for those keywords. Don't "keyword stuff". That practice is outdated and will only hurt you now. Write your content for humans, but do keep Google in mind. Don't use too many keywords. When in doubt, keep it natural sounding.
- Authority of Domain Name - The longer you've owned the domain, the better. The more pages of quality content you have on your domain name, the better. Also, include keywords in your domain name if you can (although Google says this does not directly impact your rankings, it could help influence a user to click on your website vs a competitor's).
- Secure Pages - Your web pages should load via https so they are secure. Google, and regular humans, like to see secure pages, even if you're not processing credit cards or obtaining personal information. In their Chrome browser, Google is now labeling all pages that load with an SSL as Not Secure. Don't be one of these naughty sites...get an SSL isntalled by your web hosting company so that all your pages load securely.
- URL Structure - "Pretty" URL's are better (https://cristersmedia.com/blog is better than https://cristersmedia.com/index.php&id=54). If your page URL's are human readable, that's a good thing.
Other Things You Should Do to Rank on Google Page 1
Google My Business
Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing, especially if you are a business that serves only your local community (like a bakery or plumber). Then, get as many positive reviews as you can. This will greatly increase your chances of showing up in the Local Map pack section above the first organic listing. This can be huge if you do it correctly!
Start a Blog
One of the single best things you can do to rank highly on Google is to start a blog and post articles regularly. If you're not sure what to write about, think about the top 5 questions your customers ask you. Then write a thorough answer to each question - one blog post per question. Notice the title of this blog post?
Get a Few Quality Links
Partner with a non-profit in your local community and do a contest or giveaway. Maybe the local paper will pick up on it and give you some free PR (and a link to your website). Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI and get a listing on their website. Offer to write a guest article for the local paper or neighborhood magazine. They will often include a link to your website in your bio at the end of the article.
What is a citation you ask? A citation is a listing of your business on a local directory site. Go to sites like Yelp, Foursquare, YP.com, Angie's List, etc and make sure your business listing shows up there and that the information is accurate. This helps create a robust link profile for your domain name and will send signals to Google that the information they find on your site can be trusted because it is found on other sites around the web.
You're Never Done
Additionally, just because you rank well for one keyword or key phrase, does not mean you will rank well for a similar key word/phrase. And remember that Google is constantly updating their ranking algorithms so today's rankings may not equal tomorrow's rankings.
Expect to see your site move up and down in the rankings on a daily or weekly basis - it may even drop from the rankings altogether. This is why SEO should always be ongoing.
Remember, your competitors are likely following the same protocols you are. They are likely optimizing their web presence using the same methods you are using. Keep blogging and getting links. Improve the content you already have on your website. A lot of diligence and patience will prove to be worth it when you get that coveted spot at the top of Google page 1. Depending on your business, it could literally be worth millions of dollars in revenue. Something that valuable will never come easy.
Now that you know a bit about how to get your website ranked on the first page of Google, here's a few "Next Steps" you can take to help get you started...