Whether you're a web developer or a site owner, I'm sure you've been asked (or asked it yourself): How do I get on the first page of Google?
Now before you get all angry with me for the click-baity title let me explain; You can’t, because you’re asking the wrong question. The real question is how can you get on the first page of Google for specific keywords. Makes more sense, doesn’t it?
Why are keywords relevant? Simple, because you don’t want to rank high in search results when someone is searching for terms completely unrelated to the business you’re in. For example, you have an online store selling shoes and someone is looking to buy a refrigerator - not a person you’d want to attract right?
So how do I get on the first page of Google for specific keywords?
I’ve got good news for you! You don’t need a big marketing budget, you don’t need to hire expensive agencies (which are often selling bullshit), you don’t even need a lot of knowledge about online marketing. The only thing you need to do is…
Yes, you need to write, and you need to write a lot. And not just anything, you need to write about your business, or more importantly, about the topics your prospective customers are most interested in.
One of the excuses I get most often is that people don’t have a lot of material to write about, and I always prove them wrong. You know that one prospective customer who is always asking a ton of questions, wanting to know everything about your product or service? Time to make her a source of inspiration, not frustration.
Now for the most important part: Make sure that what you write delivers value to your prospective (or existing) customers, not Google. Google can tell when you’re writing just for the sake of writing. Instead, start a discussion on an important topic, answer and clarify a complex question, point readers in the right direction. Value is the key!. And you can’t outsmart Google, so don’t even try.
Let’s look at a typical brick-and-mortar business’s website; They usually have (apart from the main landing page):
- an about us page (listing employees, their vision and mission)
- a contact/location page (Google map + a contact form)
- a news page (often with the last news being published years ago)
- a gallery page(s), with some pictures of their products
All in all, they usually have 5-10 different pages which only get updated once a year - if even. Now just by publishing one article per week you can double the amount of unique URLs of your site in a month or two. That’s 10x the pages in a year. Or more, if you decide to publish more than once a week.
Because your website will be constantly updated, Google’s crawler will notice, thus return more often and your chances of ranking higher will increase. Provided you are writing about topics, relevant to your visitors. If so, then your keyword density will automatically be high enough to boost your rankings.
One word of warning though: It doesn’t happen overnight!. You’ll have to patiently stick to your writing schedule for quite some time (a couple of months at least), before you see the positive effects of your labor. And once you do, do not, under any circumstance, stop - doing so will eventually decrease your rankings due to outdated content and you’ll be back to square one.
As a website owner, you’ve likely been approached by quasi-marketing agencies that promise you’ll get on the first page of Google in no time! Don’t fall for it - there is no such thing! Not unless their practices are shady;
Those can produce short term benefits, yes, but Google is constantly improving their indexing algorithm and sooner or later, you will be penalised for malpractice. And getting off that blacklist is hard if not impossible.
Same goes for for inbound links (see the note below); Some webmasters try to spam their website address on various discussion boards and link farms in order to increase their rankings. In order for that to be effective you’d have to create a huge number of accounts all over the web and bring zero value to those communities - don’t do it, it will kick back in a negative way!
Note: There are two major components of content marketing: writing and inbound links (links that point to your website) from sites that already rank high with Google.
Apart from ranking higher on Google search result pages (SERPs) you will also have plenty of material to share on social media - and eventually your writing will become so good and valuable that people will share it on their own, promoting your business for you.
Once that starts to happen, other people in the industry will start to follow you on social media and link to your articles.
With that, you’ll slowly become an authority (one of the six principles of persuasion, which I’ll write about in one of the future articles). Being an authority has nothing to do with importance, though - it’s about being perceived as a professional. This, in turn, increases trust of your clients towards you and brings more business in.
Don’t overlook the technical aspects
Apart from the content on your website, it’s also important that your website checks-out in technically: It should load fast (use PageSpeed Insights to check how you rank, anything below 85 is worth looking at), the HTML output should be valid, images should be named properly, have captions and proper attributes, and so on.
At the end of the day, it’s more important to have awesome content, but if you make it difficult for Google (and visitors) to properly interpret it, then you’re not leveraging the full potential of your effort.
To further boost your writing effort also make sure:
- that visitors have an easy way of sharing your content. This is most commonly done with a social sharing plugin
- you use WordPress SEO by Yoast which makes it childishly simple to set up the meta information about your article. This makes it easier for Google to understand your content and present it efficiently in search results.
(We can help with that, by the way.)
How do I get started?How do I get on the first page of Google? By writing. Frequently. Click To Tweet
Easy! The next time you visit one of your customers, pay close attention to what they ask you - and write it down. No detail is to small to ignore! And probably (hopefully?) you love what you do so it shouldn’t be hard to enthusiastically explain things you’re the expert in. Now all you have to do is put that explanation in writing.
It’s easy to get carried away though, and explain everything in one go. Instead, break things down and in every article present one angle of what you’re writing about. Leave the rest for later articles.
Even if the nature of your business doesn’t put you in direct contact with your customers - do it anyway. It’s an awesome learning experience, not only about how your customers perceive your business but what their pain points and concerns are. They might as well give you an idea for a new product! Ask, and listen - don’t pitch! Pitching puts you in a selling mode - it’s learning mode you want to be in!
One more great source of topics are conferences - regardless what kind of business you’re in, I’m sure there are some you can attend to connect with your peers/competitors and get plenty of inspiration. And exposure, which is always a plus.
Once you’re equipped with a ton of topics to write about - set a schedule and don’t publish everything at once! Instead, write one article a week and increase the frequency once you’re comfortable with your new position of content marketer! :)
Remember, consistency is way more important than onslaught of relevant keywords every now and then.
Want to improve your website rankings? Check out our starter guide on WordPress SEO.
Now it’s up to you
But I’m not good at writing? So what, neither am I and that doesn’t mean I’m unable to explain things here on this blog. Practice makes perfect and we all had to start from scratch at some point.
When you’re just starting out, give your articles to someone who’s good with grammar (doesn’t need to be a professional) to point out or fix the most obvious mistakes and that should be good enough. Remember what I said earlier - value matters the most and if you provide it, visitors won’t even notice (or resemble) a spelling mistake here and there.