"Just how do I get my company's website onto page one of Google results?"
The short answer here is invest in SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, which is the process of improving search traffic for a website and increasing the website’s online visibility, but rather than just leave it at marketing speak, let’s look at how this can be done practically.
The first point to stress is that whatever claims SEO companies may make, very few people outside Google itself know the exact configuration of the Google algorithm which constantly evolves. What is known is that there are over 200 factors that determine an individual page’s score and remember, SEO works on individual pages, not websites as a whole.
It’s common knowledge that given a substantial budget, any site can achieve Google supremacy by Pay Per Click (PPC) paid advertising and many organisations find this a proven way of attracting customers – look at the paid for adverts of the car insurance, energy, telephone and other price comparison sites. Whilst this obviously works well for such mass traffic sites and gives a good return on their investment, it can prove prohibitively expensive for many organisations dependant on the popularity of the key words they use the more obscure, the cheaper they are as less organisations are bidding to use them.
Your website has to be fresh, interesting and relevant. If it is, it will move up the pages over time, but this doesn't happen overnight.John Dias, Silver Bullet Marketing
Google Adwords is perhaps the most common platform, with your web site then featured in the paid for advertisements sections at the top and right hand side of the Google results. The costs vary enormously dependent on the phraseology chosen for the search. Once decided, advertisers can then set their budget that will determine how many times the advert appears and is clicked on to direct traffic through to their own website.
Is it successful? Well, given that it is Google’s main source of revenue, creating an eye-watering $19.1 billion in 2016, you’d have to say overall, yes, but it is expensive, making it difficult for companies with more modest marketing budgets to compete with the big boys who can bid higher and longer for the key words required to increase online visibility and drive traffic.
The alternative, and to ourselves, highly preferred method is organic SEO, whereby relevant keywords and content integral to the site will be picked up by search engines. Links to and, especially from, other sites are also important to increasing the site’s ranking as is the frequency of updates but at the end of the day, and this can’t be over emphasised enough, content is king – your website has to be fresh, interesting and relevant. If it is, it will move up the pages over time, but this doesn’t happen overnight.
So, there are a few basic rules of thumb here for successful organic SEO. Firstly, and ironically seeing as we’re talking about an algorithm not Artificial Intelligence, is that your pages have to gain Google’s trust they have to be what they say they are and if you try to scam Google, your SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) will suffer. Secondly, your site has to be responsive to different devices Google made a massive change in 2015 to rank responsiveness very highly to reflect the growing percentage of Internet views from mobile devices if your site isn’t responsive now, you’ll probably be throwing your money away on anything but PPC.
Thirdly, content is and will always be king your site has to be fresh and interesting to visitors. Google’s stated aim is to increase the quality of information available on the web and it ranks quality content very highly. Fourthly, keywords and here it’s not only exact match keywords but also what’s known as LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords for ourselves, for example this would mean marketing’ as a key word but also promoting services’, creating sales’ and other LSI phrases. If our content stressed marketing’ in every other word, the article would not only be unreadable at best or gibberish at worst, but it would also be picked up by Google’s Penguin algorithm a filter specifically designed to detect sites which are spamming Google’s search results – which could decimate our ranking.
Finally, never forget links to and especially from other websites there is a direct correlation between the quality and quantity of links to your pages and your SERP.
The quality of the links are especially important with referring sites such as .gov.uk or other blue chip’ organisations especially valuable to your SEO.