In the last few weeks I have had several conversations that started with a client asking a seemingly simple question: how do I get to rank number one on Google? Or: why am I not first on Google? Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as they would like; it’s actually rather complex.
First, it’s important to note that being “number one on Google” is not the same as it used to be. For that reason, nobody can guarantee to get you there. (If they do, and you believe them, I have some magic beans and a lovely piece of land to sell you.)
What do I mean when I say it’s not the same as it used to be? For starters, Google is always modifying how it determines site rankings. But they have also made a lot of changes to make search results more relevant to the individual searcher. Because of this, two people using identical keywords will not necessarily return the same results. Their results could vary for several reasons including:
- your location
- the device you are searching on
- your preferences if you are signed in to a Google account
How can I improve my Google ranking?
Individual searches aside, there are still numerous factors that affect your search ranking. Most of them are positive factors, but there are some things that can have a negative impact. Here’s a short list of dos and don’ts that you can easy implement today:
- Do set up a Google Business page
- Do link your Google+ profile to your blog with Google authorship
- Don’t have duplicate content on your site
- Do ensure your images have Alt text and utilize your keyword when possible
- Do use keywords in your urls, page titles and headers
- Don’t engage in keyword stuffing or negative backlink campaigns
- Do write content for humans, not computers and bots
- Do expect it to take time and effort
In the end, keep in mind there are no prizes for ranking first in search results. The ultimate goal is to get people to your site so they can engage with you, and there are many additional ways for this to be accomplished.