This is one of the most common questions that I get. I’ll give you my opinion from the perspective of someone that has been in the industry since the 1990’s, and launched a bunch of new websites from scratch (including this one). I’ll break it down into the top 5 most important pieces of advice that I like to give.
- Just because you want to rank on the first page of Google, doesn’t mean that you ever will. Not everyone can rank number one but there are many things that you can do to tip the scales in your favour. Look at things like the bounce rate, are people coming to your website and clicking the back button? Have you written custom Meta descriptions to create a more compelling argument for someone to click your website over a competitors? Google monitors click through rates and bounce rates with clear studies showing that the website with better engagement scores have a higher chance of pulling those hard to get rankings. Here is a great article that discusses this in more detail if you’re interested.
- How long have you had your website for? In all my time as an SEO consultant I have never seen a brand new website surge to the top of the rankings the moment it was launched. You have to remember that trust takes time. We are in the business of creating and maintaining trust. 99% of spammy websites last less than a year. If you are in that first year period and scratching your head as to why you aren’t dominating the rankings. Consider the time, and the activities you can be doing in that time to create trust. This includes established backlinks from trusted sources within your industry and creating compelling content that is engaging the user. Stay away from things like spammy directories and people telling you they can create thousands of links for you in three days!
- Are you trying too hard to target competitive keywords? In the first year of business I always advise my local clients in Guelph to start with the long tail keywords that aren’t as competitive. Get some wins up on the board before you go for the big fish. Some tools that I would recommend are the Google keyword planner (which is free), and Ubersuggest (free also) to start to plan what are the search terms people are using the most and how often per month they are being searched.
- Be present, create fresh content, and be more relevant. One way to the top in those early years is to be on top of the game. When breaking news emerges in your industry, be the first to write about it. Ensure that articles are no less than 400 words, and attach rich media like pictures and videos to the article. Google has “freshness” as part of its algorithm. If a competitor has the same old thing that has been ranking for 3 years unchanged, then at some stage Google will make the decision to do away with ranking them at the top, and go with the fresher content. Imagine going to a news website where the articles are six months old vs a new site that has fresh content 5 times a week. Even though you are new to the scene, you can still remain active and win in areas like this where your competitors have become a little lazy.
- If there is one quick, but hard shortcut to the top for those that simply cannot wait more than a few days, weeks, months to rank in a competitive niche, it’s the part of the algorithm that I strongly exists inside Google where it accounts for quick, sudden and explosive viral content. If you have created something that goes viral, shared thousands of times, and is getting serious attention, it will jump your website over a whole bunch of time constraining hurdles in that first year. What I mean by this is that if your website has been shared and talked about ten times over what a normal new site would garner, it will trigger something inside Google to say “alright something is happening here, we need to show this site to stay relevant, because this is what people are looking for”. Think of it like this way, imagine a viral video on YouTube that doesn’t show up in rankings for the first few months because it hasn’t been around long enough. Imagine a website that was so fantastic that every news outlet in the world started talking about and sharing, it would seem crazy to think that this website couldn’t break all the rules and jump straight to the top. For the other 99.9% of websites, please refer to my first four points.
I hope this helps, my name is Adrian Drysdale. Got a local website in Guelph, Ontario that you need SEO assistance with? Contact me today. Thanks, and I wish you all the best with your websites.