As an SEO agency, one of the first questions we’re always asked by tech founders is, “How do I get my website to come up first in Google rankings?” Often a better question they should ask is, “What phrases do I want to appear for in Google?” … but we will get to that.
The answer, as with most things in digital marketing, is multilayered. It’s not one action or activity that helps move your business up the page but an ongoing, consistent strategy implemented over an extended period of time. So, where to start?
One effective way to get your page to rank above competing pages is by including in your content the right keywords—commonly searched-for phrases people type into Google. You can use the free Google Keyword Planner or many other low-cost tools to find the right phrases. These keywords often searched by users should feature in your metadata, be present in your evergreen content, be woven into your blog content, and be utilized as alternative text for images and URLs. Each page of your website should have its own unique keyphrases that are targeted within the page’s content, and each should serve the ultimate purpose of creating interest and sales in your products.
The more web pages that link back to your website, the greater the chance that Google will show your organic listing on the first page. Leverage your connections to source these links—they can be as simple as trading blog post content with other companies, publishing a testimonial that sends viewers back to your site, agreeing to a linked case study, or even a social media shout-out. One of our favorite tricks is to use citations as an easy way to garner links—these consist of online directories like Hot Frog or well-known sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
Tackle the Technical Details
Long load times? Web pages accidentally set to “no-index”? Not ideal for your Google ranking. By tackling some of the more critical technical details of your site, you improve your chances that Google will rank you favorably. Creating a favorable user experience is a vital component of a successful website and one that Google takes into account.
Play the Long Game
As marketers, we’re constantly playing the Google game. The algorithm shifts frequently, and it’s impossible to know exactly what will be prioritized next. That is why a diverse, consistent strategy always works best. Install analytics software and spend time checking your traffic and sales conversions. You’d be surprised by the referrals you are getting that you would never know about without analytics. Emphasize the elements you know will make a difference and employ a strategy that enables you to grow those long-term.
Ignore SEO Misconceptions
Anyone who tries to sell you on quick “number one” results is likely also able to cut you a deal on a bridge in Brooklyn. A sustainable SEO strategy is less wizardry than most experts will have you believe; a balanced campaign is going to be two parts content, one part technical work, and one part elbow grease.
Stay on the lookout for pitches that involve a lot of “buying backlinks.” We advise our clients to keep their eyes peeled for websites that might be willing to link to them, but the links follow a rational reason for the link to have been put on the site in the first place. A quick way to lose your rankings is to partake in buying links directly.
This is increasingly a more transparent industry with less and less “secret sauce.” Fundamentals are more important than flash. You are better suited to spend time and effort writing your content with a particular keyword in mind, writing for users first but with search engines as a motivator. Long gone are the days of just stuffing phrases into a page and hoping for the best.
Courtney Rambo is the Co-Founder and Director of Intellitonic, a digital marketing agency.