Reach for the skies: how to be seen on the coveted first page of google

Have you come across the internet meme that goes: ‘Page 2 of Google results is the best place to hide a dead body’? It's funny because it's true: virtually no one's ever going to look there.

Results on the first page of Google receive 91.5% of the overall click-through traffic. Page 2 receives just 4.8%. The results grow significantly worse for page 3, page 4 and beyond.

So if you want to increase traffic to your site, build extra brand awareness and drive more conversions, the place to be is on page one. But the trick is how get there. Many people think search engine optimisation (SEO) is straightforward, but it’s not the case any more – there’s actually a lot to it.

The easiest way to grasp how much more complex the algorithm is these days is to think of SEO as a service, not a product. It’s definitely not something you can grab from the local supermarket.

SEO in simpler days

Laptop lady.pngOnce upon a time (5-10 years back) the internet was a laid-back space where competition wasn’t much of an issue and pleasing Google’s algorithm was as simple as inserting a few carefully chosen keywords on a website.

The in-thing was link farms, which were websites dedicated to listing links for other websites. Nobody cared much about the user, as Google’s algorithm would judge the website’s relevance by keyword density rather than natural, optimised content. Extra factors, such as web design and mobile optimisation, weren’t even considered.

Time travel to the present and things have massively changed.

The high-powered SEO of today

In the 'olden days' described above, SEO was about as useful as dial-up internet. Now it’s the equivalent of high-speed wireless: there’s a lot involved to keep up to date, but the end result is much better for the user. 

These days, when Google’s little bots scan a website they slip into the user’s shoes. And that means more a lot more than just looking for keywords. Mainly, Google is looking at:

  • Does the website load quickly?
  • Is it mobile optimised?
  • Is it designed with usability in mind?
  • Is the content high quality and interesting to read?

However, Google algorithms don’t stop there. It also looks at more technical information:

  • schema (website code that tells search engines what your website data means)
  • robots.txt (text file instructing search robots how to crawl pages on the website)
  • title and metatags (describe the page content)
  • link building (increasing high-quality links to your website).

These aspects have always been part of SEO and probably always will be, so it’s important your site gets these elements right.

But that’s not all. To get your website’s SEO spot on, you can’t ignore the complementary services that round off your website’s ranking ability.

A strong social presence, blog posts that are shared across the web, and effective AdWords campaigns also play an essential role in any SEO strategy. You should never overlook them.

So, with all of this in mind, is your website’s SEO up to scratch? If not, here's a quick checklist:

Your website audit checklist

  • Test your website’s speed through an external tool – it should load in around two seconds
  • Check your site on Google's mobile optimisation test: (this really does just take a few seconds)
  • Conduct user testing on your website to review your user experience
  • Have a close look at your content – is it written for human eyes? Has it been shared? Ask for some feedback
  • Agree what keywords you want to rank for as a business, and manually check your rankings on Google


About the author

This article was written by Rhys Kerr from Webfirm – Access1st’s digital marketing and web development partner. Webfirm offers a range of free and discounted services for Access1st partner associations and their members. Full details behind your association or client log-in.

Click the links to read Rhys's previous Access1st articles on Facebook for Business; and 5 ways to boost B2B leads online.

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