“How does somebody get their website on the first page of Google?” You might have even searched this yourself at some point.

There’s good and bad news: there are a billion ways to answer. Depending on who you ask (and probably what they’re trying to sell you), everyone will give slightly different advice when it comes to ranking well on Google.Fortunately, there are three key factors that help improve search rankings. If you want to get on the Google first page, you’ll need to focus on:

  • Paid search
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Google Business

Think of these as the cornerstone to the rest of your brand’s digital marketing work. If you don’t devote some time to them, you’re likely to struggle to pull in an audience.

 

Paid Search

Paid search is a form of digital marketing. Think of it as an agreement between advertisers and search engines (like Google). The agreement is that for a certain price, advertisers may have their ads displayed on search engine result pages (or SERPs). Paid search ads may follow one of two formats:

  • Text ads (displayed at top or bottom of SERPs)
  • Shopping ads (displayed above search results)

The Pay-per-Click Model

Paid search operates on a pay-per-click model. That means that until a web user actually clicks on an ad, the advertiser doesn’t pay anything. A pay-per-click model makes it easier to measure and control marketing than some more traditional forms of advertising. It’s definitely an incentive to create ads that people will actually click on.

Why Focus on Paid Search?

There are no two ways about it: thousands, even millions, of people use Google to search for things every second. This leaves businesses plenty of opportunity to advertise to engaged audiences. Paid search positions your advertisements in ideal locations on SERPs.

Paid search also differs from more standard marketing tactics that follow an “interruption marketing” model. These ads, such as banners, or mid-video ads, tend to be displayed en-masse and may not target web users who are ready to make purchases. Paid search does target customers who are ready to buy and appears in a more digestible way. Google Ads are a great way to bolster your marketing efforts, since you know you’ll be hitting prospects when they’re ready to buy.

The Basics of Setting Up Paid Search

Select appropriate location settings

  • Advertisers have the option to make sure their ads are displayed in certain zip codes, cities, and countries
  • You can often customize the demographics you’re targeting

Select keywords

  • This, in and of itself, deserves an entire blog post– but to summarize, you’ll need to do some keyword research and choose the keywords that are best for your business
  • Think about what your audience is looking for, and come up with phrases that surround that. We love Moz for building keyword portfolios.
  • Choose keyword match types
    • Paid search allows you to select from four of these:
    • Exact match: Ads are only displayed when someone searches an exact term
    • Phrase match: Ads are displayed when someone searches for an exact phrase with words before and/or after
    • Broad match: Ads are displayed when someone searches for the phrase in any order (and with synonyms)
    • Modified broad match: Ads are displayed when someone searches for the phrase in any order (without synonyms)

 

SEO

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and the quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. This is one how to get on Google’s first page for free.

  • Traffic quality is crucial because even if you attract global audiences, that audience is unlikely to pay off (if you don’t have something to provide to everyone.) High-quality traffic consists of people who are interested in your content and/or products and services
  • Traffic quantity is helpful and increases the likelihood of somebody making a purchase; it is, however, only exceptionally beneficial if you have good traffic quality
  • Organic results refer to any results on a SERP that is not a paid ad; organic traffic is traffic that is not paid for

How and Why Does SEO Work?

Google uses crawlers. These metaphorical little bugs go through websites to gather information. After storing data about all of a site’s content, the crawlers build an index. Google uses algorithms to try to match data from the index with a searcher’s query. These algorithms involve a lot:

  • Social metrics (quantity and quality of shared content through social media)
  • Domain-level keyword usage (exact-match keywords)
  • Domain-level link authority (quality of links to domain)
  • User, usage, and traffic data
  • Page-level content features (length, readability, uniqueness, etc.)

How to Build an SEO-Friendly Site

Nobody can illustrate every detail of building an SEO-friendly site. However, there are some simple steps that can help you achieve great SEO:

  • Write SEO-friendly copy (make it linkable, speak conversationally, use keywords)
  • Use title tags, URLs, etc. appropriately and make them as clear as possible
  • Use headers and subheaders to break up your content (images help, too)

 

Google Business

The good news is that Google My Business is actually a super intuitive and simple tool to use. Google uses this directory as a way to prioritize which brands are advertised in local searches. (Looking at you, 2016’s Possum update!) It’s a huge ranking factor in Google Maps business results and more.

The best way to approach Google My Business is with a basic checklist. We find that this makes it easy to ensure you exploit every beneficial avenue the platform offers:

  • Basic best practices
      • Reply to trustworthy reviews to show trust and engagement.
      • Use the Google short URL tool to make it easy for customers to leave reviews.
      • Don’t ask for reviews before customers have actually experienced your product or service.
      • Integrate with email marketing.
  • The Google My Business listing
      • This must be filled out in full (and information should be accurate.)
      • Basic information includes website and contact info. If you have specific hours of operation, that would go here.
      • Check which category your business is in.
  • Star ratings
      • Aim for 5 stars of course!
      • Even small rating increases tend to translate to more conversions, so encourage your best clients to give you a review.

 

Need Help Getting Your Website on the First Page of Google?

If you know that these marketing practices present an opportunity for growth, it’s important to leverage them as soon as possible. Some teams are well-equipped to handle web marketing like this on their own. We find that many of our clients, however, benefit from a content marketing and lead generation partner.

At RevenueZen, our team of experts helps customers fine-tune their websites and content. Contact us today to learn more about how we drive growth and increase engagement for our clients.

Jake Moffett

Jake is the Growth Manager at RevenueZen. He works with a number of entrepreneurial clients to help them tell their personal stories as it relates to their professional brands. He has three cats, loves bread, and is a pop singer under the name Jame Doe.