Why getting to the top of page 1 of Google is important
How do you get your website to the top of page 1 of Google is the question I get asked about THE MOST when it comes to websites.
And it is a good question to ask.
Because getting your website listed at the top of page 1 of Google can make a big difference to the number of people visiting your website.
I talk about Google mainly because it is the most frequently used search engine, certainly in the UK. It is used in about 88% of searches in the UK according to Statista. Pretty scary how powerful they are isn’t it?
So getting your website listed at the top of page 1 of Google gets you more people visiting your website. And the more people who visit your website the more people will book or buy (or whatever action it is that you want them to take)? Right?
Well, they do need to be the “right” kind of people. If you’re a massage therapist in Manchester there’s no point having visitors from, say, Tunbridge Wells – unless they’re planning on visiting Manchester of course. And if you sell expensive jewellery you’re not interested in people whose budgets are a fraction of what you charge visiting your website. In my case, with a name like Beyond the Kitchen Table I’m after entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for websites, not kitchen tables or recipes. So you do want the “right” people visiting to get more leads, bookings, sales or whatever it is that you want.
Most people still use Google (or sometimes other search engines) to search for products or services before they buy. And after personal recommendation, it is the best source of traffic to your website in terms of what is sometimes called “intent to buy” – that’s people coming to your website looking to buy. So SEO, done right, delivers the “right” kind of people who are looking to buy now, or soon. Not just browsers.
You don’t need to pay to get on page 1 of Google.
The very top of search results will show you ads – these you need to pay for. Then you often have a map. The free listings are under that.
While we all like to think Google is so amazing that our websites will just be found, and it will love our websites so much that it will rank us at the top of page 1 for all the words/phrases people searching for our business might use, I’m afraid that’s not true.
It is a very competitive world out there. You might want to, and think you should, rank highly for, say “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” because you’re a wedding photographer and this is one of your venues. But lots of other wedding photographers will want to rank for this (even if they don’t currently photograph there they may have ambitions to). If it was as easy as “hoping” to rank at the top of page 1 then everyone would be there…
Google has a system for ranking (that “algorithm” people talk about). Google isn’t just going to put you at the top because you, the business, want to be there.
Google is focused on the people who come to use it as a search engine. Because it is a business too and wants people to come back. It puts the results it expects people searching want at the top. If someone is searching for the term “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” then it is going to deliver what it thinks are the best results for that term on page 1. Because if they get the best results for “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” and find exactly what they’re looking for, next time they want to find something they’ll use Google again. That’s how it gets a 90% market share – by being the best search engine. Oh and they may just have bought out a few competitors along the way…
So how do you get to that coveted page 1 position???
Most important to write about what you want to be found for
The most important thing if you want to be found for a particular word or phrase is to write about it.
If you search “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” you will see that the first few results are all about weddings photographed at Penshurst Place. It is super clear what these pages are about – they’re about weddings photographed at Penshurst Place.
As you go down the search results you’ll see pages from photographers that list places they photograph at which mention Penshurst Place. They’re not writing about wedding photography at Penshurst Place. They’re writing about wedding venues they photograph at, including Penshurst Place. It is not the same!
When Google is deciding which website pages are relevant for that search term they might consider including that website page (because it mentions both wedding photography and Penshurst Place). It’s relevant. But when it decides how to rank them a page (or post) that is all about the term being searched for is going to rank higher
1 phrase = 1 page or post
When you know what your Ideal Clients are searching for and you want to try to rank for that term (that key word), the best thing you can do is to write a page (or a blog post) about it.
In the example of wedding photographer Penshurst Place you could write a page or blog post (it really doesn’t matter which for Google) about wedding photography at Penshurst Place. You could, of course, show examples of weddings you have photographed there. You could also talk about great spots to photograph (and show examples – eg this gorgeous bench next to the peonies) and how the photographs change with the different seasons.
You could also link to other services you work with for weddings there (eg hair and makeup artists, cars, bands, etc).
Not only would Google love this type of content, any wedding couples getting married at Penshurst Place would do too. It makes you seem like a real expert or authority on photographing weddings at Penshurst Place. Not only does it make it more likely they’ll find you through Google, they’re more likely to book – because they’re already convinced you’re the right photographer to help. You stand out in the crowd. In a good way!
Yes, writing a page or post like this takes time, but even one client booking as a result of finding you through search or finding you elsewhere and reading that kind of post makes it time well spent. Especially because it will live on for years (looking at that search term on Google some of the pages on page 1 are from 5 years ago)
“Optimise” your page or post
Google is smart, but it doesn’t just “know” which pages are relevant to the search term. It is not quite that smart!
It looks for clues. So you need to feed these to Google…
First of all the title of the page (or post) should give Google a clue. So for “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” it should contain the words “wedding”, “photographer” or “photography” and “Penshurst Place”. Not something like “the most beautiful gardens in England for your wedding photography”
The “url” or “slug” should do the same. This is the website address (eg https://beyondthekitchentable.co.uk/get-on-page1-google). Your website should be set up to name pages or blog posts in this way (rather than by date or a random string of numbers). Many websites default to using the page or post title in the url. Whilst that’s fine, I suggest altering it slightly so your key words or phrases are at the beginning and/or removing additional words like “and” and “the”.
Then it is a case of making sure you use the words/phrases you want to rank for (and related ones) a number of times in the copy, including in the headings and sub headings. Google places more importance in words found in headings and near the top of the page/post BUT it is more important that the page/post reads naturally. If it is stuffed full of keywords every keyword sentence without any keyword thought to the keyword reader, visitors won’t keep on reading. Even if you get the traffic, if visitors don’t stay they’re not going to become clients, which is the point of this after all! I recommend writing the page or post naturally without thinking about using that specific term or phrase, then once it is written I go back and look at the headings. Am I using the keywords/phrase in the headings enough and, if not, can I easily add them any way? I’d then look at the first couple of paragraphs and do the same. Are the keywords/phrases used in the first couple of paragraphs and, if not, can I reword slightly to include. And finally I’d check they’re used elsewhere in the copy (if you’re on wordpress a tool like Yoast is good for checking the “density” or number of times you use the keyword/phrase and whether this is enough – or even too much)…
A final “trick” is to use your images. The filename should include the key words/phrases you’re trying to rank for and you can use keywords in the “alt text” function. The filename and alt text are two different things. The filename is imported when you add the image (so you should name it before you upload it – IMG2541 doesn’t tell Google anything about your image). Alt text is designed for those who can’t see the images and is supposed to be a text description of the image eg “elderly lady sat knitting on red sofa”, but Google does take this into account so you can use that to your advantage! In the case of the “wedding photographer Penshurst Place” you could use phrases like “photograph of wedding couple in hall at Penshurst Place”.
If you’d like a copy of my SEO optimisation checklist you can download it here.
Whilst writing a page/post about what you want to be found for and “optimising” it by including keywords in the right places are the most important things you can do, there are a couple of bonuses which will help your ranking.
First of all Google does need enough words to be able to work out what a page/post is about. These are words in the website, rather than in an image or pdf. 300 words is considered the minimum number Google needs to see. However, Google likes (and therefore usually ranks higher) longer content. Don’t just pad out your page for the sake of it (visitors don’t like waffle), but if you can write more and give more value then it is worth doing. However, a 300 word published page is going to rank more highly than a 1000 word page that is not published!
Images are also helpful in a page. We’re visual creatures and images help break up text. It makes it easier to read and people will stay on your website longer (they’ll stay even longer if you have an engaging video). So I’d recommend including images and/or video if you want to rank more highly.
The speed of your website page is another important factor. No-one (including Google) likes slow websites. Make sure any images are correctly sized and videos are hosted off your website (eg with youTube or Vimeo) so they don’t slow down your website.
Finally, the Google bots work by using links to move from one website to another. Whilst it is fantastic to have links pointing from a great website to your website (“backlinks”), you should also link to other pages in your website and other websites from your website pages. So to add that extra boost, I recommend going through the page/post you have written and looking at
- what you can link to in your own website (which will encourage visitors to explore your own website too), including products/services you sell and
- what other websites you can link to (eg any stats you have quoted or other businesses you think might be of interest to people reading the article – eg hair/makeup artists if you’re a wedding photographer)
SEO doesn’t need to be difficult. Whilst there are many factors Google takes into account in deciding where to rank web pages in a search, the most important is that the page is relevant to the term being searched for.
Writing a single page (or a blog post) all about the word or phrase you want to be found for is the best thing you can do to be found for that word or phrase.
Once you have written the page/post you can then “optimise” it for SEO purposes – ensuring you’re using the words/phrases you want to be found for in the title, url, headings, body text and images.
Finally, make sure you have enough text, some images (which are optimised) and links on the page/post.
If you’d like more help download my SEO checklist which you can find here