05 Jan How do I get my website on the first page of Google?
Everyone in the world with a website wants his/hers to come up first in search engines. This is a legitimate concern; one I encounter quite often in my web design business. (Unfortunately it is usually after the website is long done and published, and people are wondering why they aren’t suddenly fighting off swarms of potential customers. But I digress.) It’s important to note that if this is of deep concern to you and your business, it is best to bring it up early in the conversation with your web designer. It is easier to embed SEO when building your website than it is to go back and implement it when the website has already been published. Search results can be enhanced by many means, and there are plenty of articles on the subject. Here are some tips for improving your website’s performance and achieving a greater return on your investment in professional web design.
To preface my response to this query, let me first say: I am not an SEO expert. I have, however, done a lot of research on the subject, and I have learned a lot about SEO and Google rankings from building and running my own plethora of successful websites. But I would never make a client a promise that I could definitively get them ranked #1 on Google, or even on the first page under any circumstances. And here’s why:
- Not to make a meme out of it, but I have to reference LoTR here: “One does not simply become #1 on Google.” (And certainly not overnight, might I add.)
- Only Google controls how Google ranks its search results, and they can change these algorithms at any time.
- It is a multi-faceted subject that can’t be fully or properly addressed with a one-sentence answer.
Delving deeper into the subject, I want to provide some additional details on my first and third points.
- If nobody knows you exist, let alone that you have a business and a website, what do you think they would be typing into the Google search bar to find you? Think phrases here, people – not single words. When you say that you want to come up first, do you ever consider what people are typing in to the search bar that they might come across your website? If not, you should.
- Organic marketing is absolutely critical; you should encourage any existing customers that you have or have had in the past to visit your new website for information and resources, to bookmark your website, and to check back often.
- Utilize social media. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. you can and should be using these to tell your friends and followers that you have a website, whether brand new or simply updated. GET PEOPLE TO SEARCH/CLICK/VISIT.
- Provide information and resources that are relevant to what you do/provide. Google’s job is to provide users with unique and relevant content, and if you don’t have either of these things your website won’t be a high priority.
- It isn’t a necessity but it is a benefit to include an e-mail newsletter sign-up form if it’s comfortable for you. It’s also a good idea to include a blog and to actually use it. And if you are going to include a blog, be consistent and update it at least one-two times per month. This rotating content will serve you greatly in keeping the Google robots refreshing its information about your website, and it will keep you relevant on search engines.
If you have an existing website and have been in business for some time, you are a great asset to your web designer when it comes to SEO. After all, who knows your clients better than YOU? You can improve on existing content and assist your web designer in coming up with keywords that will help new customers or clients find you. No struggle necessary.
Now, for those of you who have never had a website before and are attempting to attract NEW customers, whether locally or from around the globe, it’s important to pin down some of the key phrases one would use to find your business. For example, myself as a web designer and photographer in the Los Angeles area, (though I can work from virtually anywhere on the former,) a key phrase I would use might be “Los Angeles Web Designer and Photographer”. It’s a broad phrase that I’m certain lots of people are using in their content, but it accurately describes what I do and is likely something that somebody who is looking for a web designer and photographer in the Los Angeles area would type into a search bar. Don’t you think? If I wanted to get more specific I could include things like “LA Food Photographer” or “Southern California Attorney Web Design”. These phrases should be embedded into your website’s content, AND in your meta tags and page titles, depending on how specific and tailored your business is.
The bottom line is that your website does not exist in a vacuum. If you are searching for yourself and all you are doing is typing in the .com or title of your website, there is no doubt in my mind you are going to populate on the first page and feel very proud of yourself. But what are your customers searching for…?
Further, creating relevant, organic, unique content does not happen overnight. (I worked with someone for over four years creating content – some of which was unique and some of which was undoubtedly not – and the website still never saw the desired search engine results.) There is no guarantee that you will come out on top, and an SEO amateur or even an expert is not to blame for this. Content is cultivated over months and even years, and SEO work like this comes with an often staggering price tag. If you want to do it on the cheap, incorporate some of the things I have mentioned above to get those clicks. If you have some money to spend and it’s a priority for you, feel free to contact an SEO or marketing specialist. They will likely tell you things similar to what I have mentioned. Either way, this is not a “problem” you can simply throw money at expecting a fast turnaround.
You can also do a little research and heed bits and pieces of advice from others on the subject. Here are some of my favorite articles about SEO written by people far better versed on the subject than I:
And, to better understand SEO from a web designer or even an SEO specialist’s position: