Getting to #1 on Google

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I get calls from companies wanting to improve my ranking and get me to “#1 on Google” and I always wonder – how did they find me if I rank so poorly. But I just say no thank you and hang up. My clients get the same sort of calls and many of them ask my opinion.

Here it is:
Getting to #1 is simple. Pay enough for sponsored links and you’ll be #1 – at least until someone outbids you.

But what if you aren’t independently wealthy or you don’t have an unlimited advertising budget and the experience to bid on the right terms?  The next best thing is to work on being #1 in the “natural results” which are all the sites below the “sponsored links.”

How do you do that? The easiest way is to hire me because that’s what I’ve been doing for 12 years. But if you want to do it yourself, the first thing to do is look at who’s #1 now. Examine their website. Right-click on their home page and view the source code to see what they have for their meta description.

Look at their navigation structure. Is it text links? How many pages in their site versus yours? How do they link to those pages, i.e. do they have a page called “t-shirts” or do they have multiple pages for their different kinds of t-shirts? The more pages on your site, the more opportunities to rank well for various search phrases.

The competition for top place is fierce and never-ending. And some industries are infinitely harder to “crack” than others because there are tens of thousands of companies selling the same sort of product. And I never promise to get someone to the top because most of my clients can’t afford what it would cost to make that happen.

So, I recommend realism. If you sell t-shirts, don’t even try to be #1 for “t-shirts”. Try to be #1 for the type of t-shirts you sell, such as “rock band t-shirts” or “vintage football t-shirts” or “bluebonnet t-shirts” or whatever.

And keep in mind that getting to the top doesn’t mean you’ll get the click-through. That’s where the text on the page and/or your meta description come in. When someone sees your listing, is the description below it interesting and to the point? Will it help close the deal by getting them to click through to your site?

Be concise in your meta description.  Do not be concise in your product description on the actual web page. Put important points about your product or service in bullets so– if you’re lucky–your visitor will read them.

But below the bullets, more fully describe the product or service, using complete sentences. You can rarely have too many words on a page. Your visitors won’t read them all, but search engines will read at least the first 200.  So make those words important and relevant to the product or service you’re trying to sell.

Finally, if someone says they can get you to #1 for your company name, just say thanks, no and hang up.  If you’re a current client and I designed your website or you’re on a site management plan with me, and you aren’t in the top 3 for your company name, I’ll give you a free hour of work (an $80 value) to correct the problem (assuming your company name isn’t something utterly generic like “Gift Baskets”.   If you aren’t my client, call your webmaster (or me) and tell them to fix the problem.  It will cost you some money, but it should be worth it.  If someone knows your company name, the least you should expect of your website is that it’s found when they enter the name in a search.