Posted at Nov 10, 2020 1:18:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share
You want to get on the first page of Google in 2021. To do so, you're competing with every other business in your industry. Some have years of experience on you. Some have marketing departments that dwarf your own. Some have marketing budgets larger than your business's entire budget. Can you still do it? Can you still get to that first page? Yes. It takes work, building content over time, and knowing the ins and outs of your task from SEO keywords to Google SERP features.
The big question is, how do you make it there?
What You Need to Know About Google Core Updates
The first thing to realize is that Google updates and tweaks its search algorithms nearly daily. Some of these are well-known (such as Panda, which was designed to punish sites with low quality content while favoring those with compelling, high quality content) but most are rolled out with little to no fanfare.
A core update is one in which the search giant makes “significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems” to “ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
These are broad changes that can result in notable effects (e.g., drops or gains in the search engine results pages). If your site does experience a dip, don’t panic! A core change may affect your ranking, but as Google advises, “We want to ensure [websites] don’t try to fix the wrong things. Moreover, there might not be anything to fix at all.”
Google uses the analogy of a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. If you updated the list in 2019, naturally there would be new and great movies that were added. Maybe they deserve a higher place on the list. This list changes, “and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them.” So, in other words, maybe there are some newer websites that are worthy of a high ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The message here is remain calm. If you haven’t violated webmaster rules, then there is nothing to worry about. Still… you want a place on the first page of Google! How do you do it in 2021?
The answer may not be much of a surprise.
Think of All the Ways
There's no one, single way to get to the first page of Google:
You can get there through business and map listings. This is one of your first stops and pretty straightforward. You can get there through the creation of content. This includes your website pages as well as blogs and articles you post, and other content such as videos you host. Your website content may feature in the “People also ask” section that delivers answers to commonly asked questions about certain topics. You can also pay for ads that lead people toward your landing pages.
Google My Business is a free tool for business owners. You've used it before when you search for businesses of a certain type near you. Google Maps gives you a map of the nearest businesses that fit your search as well as accompanying listings.
Create a Google My Business profile so your business shows up on local searches. Keep your name consistent across all searches. This means every character you enter should be the same every time. It won't like it if you abbreviate once and write out a full name in another field.
Make sure to complete the entire profile as thoroughly as you can. A complete listing gets seven times the clicks an incomplete one will. Keep your information as updated as possible.
Provide service. If you list a number as your business's phone number, answer that number. Have a voice mail set up. Return calls. Businesses that have positive Google reviews get boosted to the first page of results.
Feature photos. Google favors listings that feature photos of the business. Customers respond well to this, too – they can trust what your business will look like and envision what it will feel like to be there.
List it on directories like Yelp as well. Yelp's and Google's directories inform each other – traffic on Yelp encourages traffic on Google.
Content creation is an investment. You likely won't see a massive spike in visitors after you post the first blog. If you're consistent with it, you will see a reliable growth in visitors over a period of months. Unlike paid ads, content will still show up on the first page of Google months later. Paid ads will only do so for the period you've paid.
Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant, helpful, organic search results to users. To this end, they reward quality. Here are some tips for improving your content's organic performance in the SERPs:
Content creation relies on SEO relevance. This means figuring out keywords that you want to feature in your blogs, articles, videos, and other content. These keywords will correspond to searches people make on Google. If the Google search is close enough, Google will feature your content more highly as a result.
Once you've determined your keywords, start implementing them. Google scans content for keywords, so place important keywords and key phrases in your title, meta description, URL, and alt tags. What are these?
The title is the title of your content.
The meta description is what Google uses to describe the content in search results.
The URL is the link itself.
Alt tags are text descriptors of images. These are the only way that Google can see an image from an SEO standpoint.
Utilize the keywords in subheadings, first paragraph, and within the text itself.
You can overuse keywords. If you overuse a keyword, Google might dismiss the page as spam and not feature it at all. This is especially true for “higher risk” industries, such as finance. There's a range of SEO tools available to help assess how SEO-friendly your content is. It's a good idea to invest in one.
Write actual content. If your content is just an excuse for the keywords, it won't work. It needs to be thought out. Your content needs a reason to exist so that people have a reason to read it. Don't write sales content. Write about why you make certain choices for your products, why your business operates a certain way, what you think of certain trends in your industry. Speak to people with your content and they'll value it.
Focus on location. Keywords with location involved have a clear advantage when people search for businesses because the businesses that will pop up first are the ones in the searched location.
Ask Questions: Google has published a list of questions to ask of your content if you either have seen a dip after a core update or if you want to improve your rank. Evaluate aspects concerning the expertise, presentation, and production quality of your content - and don't forget to compare your content with similar pages appearing on the first page of Google.
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Conduct a Content Audit: Take a look at your analytics: what pages were most affected by a core change? What type of searches were impacted? Examine these pages, and be sure to apply the questions above as well.
E-A-T: No, don’t get a snack. Familiarize yourself with the search quality raters guidelines: raters help Google determine if their algorithms are delivering good results. Look at the EAT sections: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. You can see how your content is doing from this prospective and identify areas for improvement.
Google Ads can be harder to get consistent results on. Many people have already conditioned themselves to ignore the ad result and go straight to the first organic result. Nonetheless, Google Ad campaigns can be very useful. Essentially, you bid on keywords that get you featured as a top result – noted as an ad. Google Ads do offer you a ton of metrics to be able to analyze your success. Typically, don't rely on a strategy that only utilizes Google Ads, but do use it as a piece of a strategy that also relies on content creation and other elements that are more consistent and have better ROI.
Any results on a Google search that don't appear as standard, organic listings are called Google SERP features. They come up on nearly every search page. Here are a few:
Rich Snippets visualize a result to make it easier to read, such as when a 4.5 star review average is represented by five stars with four-and-a-half filled in gold.
Paid Results cover Google Ads, where you bid on keywords.
Universal Results are other organic results such as image, news, video results, or results from any other section of Google Search.
Shopping Results will show on product searches along the top of the screen, allowing easy access for those who want to go straight to reviewing a potential purchase.
Tweets will often show in relation to an ongoing event, search on a celebrity, or sports inquiries.
Obviously, not all of these are Google Ads-related, but they give you an idea of what Google SERP features are available.
There are a number of ways to take advantage of Google Ads, and to bid low on specific high-return keywords. This is so contextual for each individual business that it's usually better to leave this level of advertising campaign to a marketing department or digital marketing firm that has extensive experience.
Google and Beyond
Beyond this, it's important that you make your marketing have value. You can have the most successful marketing campaign in history and if nobody can find what they're looking for on your site, it makes no difference.
Your content has to be intriguing and thought-provoking. Your site has to work on all browsers, devices, and platforms. Ensure that it's mobile friendly and that it will load quickly across the board. You need to have an easily navigable site. If you can't fulfill these requirements, fix these first before you step into a serious campaign to get to the first page of Google.
Do you want to hear a bad joke? Here it is anyway: Where do you hide a dead body?
On the second page of Google.
You get the point: making it to the first page of Google is vital because most people never click on to page two. The first page receives 71% of search traffic clicks (and that figure has been reported as high as 92%). If you’re buried on page two, three, four… it doesn’t matter how great your product, service, website, or content is. People will not be able to find you.
If you don't know where to start, it's OK. If you can't write content or it doesn't interest you, that's OK. That's what digital marketing firms are for. They can research out good content angles, assess SEO quality, and manage delivery on social media with a strategy that fits a business's specific needs. They can even build websites out for you, if you're on that stage. You don't have to wear all hats when someone else is qualified to wear a few of them for you – especially if they have a history of producing results for other businesses.
There is no quick fix for getting on the first page of Google. It takes work, effort, and time. Keep at it: focus on high-quality content and ways to improve your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Contact the team at THAT Agency - we can help you create a strategy that pushes you closer to the top.