Kristen McCormick, Content Marketing Manager at WordStream, states that the first page of Google might seem like an unrealistic goal for your small business. But with Google’s superior calibre of topic and location recognition, it is actually more possible than ever for small and local businesses to rank at the top of search results – and for free.
Some actions you can take to help your business rise to the top of the first page.
Determine your keywords
First, determine which search queries you want Google to answer with your website pages. These are known as keywords, which can be single words or phrases.
Tell Google what keywords you are using
Google works by crawling the web, ranking the millions of pages that exist, and storing them in an index. When a user performs a search, Google can then scan through its more organised index (rather than the whole web) to quickly come up with relevant results.
Therefore, another important step for showing up on the first page of Google is to make it as easy as possible for Google to scan, index and retrieve your site. Do this by placing keywords in the following places:
1. Meta title
Every blog post and page of your website has a meta title. This title appears at the top of your page in the form of a header but also as the title of that page’s listing in search results (depending upon your CMS settings).
2. Meta description
The meta description is the little blurb that shows up underneath the title in Google’s search results.
Focus on user experience
Being mobile-friendly isn’t enough for a website. It must also be appealing and user-friendly. A website with intuitive navigation, clear calls to action, and answers to your visitors’ most immediate questions will keep visitors there longer and coming back later, which Google will notice and, in turn, rank you higher. The higher you rank, the more traffic you will get to your site, and the more likely you are to show up on the first page.
Another free way to get your website pages on the first page of Google is to target location-based queries. Make sure your website clearly indicates your city and/or geographic area, via your contact page and potentially also through blog posts and services pages. That way, when people search: ‘your industry’ + ‘your city’, Google will pick up that information and show your business as a ‘near me’ search result.
Optimise for mobile
You will not find a website at the top of a Google search that is not responsive. Consumers now use phones and tablets more than computers and laptops, and the majority of local searches are performed on mobile devices. As a result, Google favours mobile-friendly websites.
Write for humans
The body of your page’s content is the most important place to include the keywords for which you are trying to rank. However, it is crucial that these keywords are not systematically and excessively inserted but naturally incorporated. In fact, Google can now detect keyword stuffing, and if it does it will place you far, far from the first page of its results.
The key to getting on the first page of Google is providing useful, trustworthy, easy-to-read, but informative content that will keep your target audience on your pages and coming back for more. And conversationally sharing the knowledge already in your head is both free and easy. Just remember that if you want to rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword search, your page needs to provide the information, and not just the keywords, that users are trying to obtain when they type that search into Google.