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For people searching for an answer to questions like “what was the name of the robot in lost in space?” Google is the font of all knowledge.  It is also where people go to find people who can do ‘stuff’ for them like “drywall repair in Vancouver.”  There are roughly 3.5 billion searches on Google per day.

Think of it as a Yellow Pages with over 5 million companies listed.  Unlike Yellow Pages, having the name ‘AAAA Business’ will not get you listed on the first page.  Getting on the first page of a search takes a bit of finesse and a bit of digital ‘magic’ for lack of a better term.  Basically, it takes work.

Why is that first page so important?

Google is constantly crawling and ranking the sites, determining which are most useful for its users.  People trust Google.   If you are looking for a business or service you can trust, are you going to pick the one on the first page or one a few pages down?  75% of Google users do not go past the first page.

What is the difference between a Google Ad on the first page and a Google listing?

Running a Google Adwords campaign will not help your SEO (search engine optimization) ranking or vice versa.  You can’t pay for a good rank but you can pay for a good ad placement.  However, search listings are free and based on Google’s commitment to keeping their search content useful and trustworthy.

PPC (pay-per-click) ads like Google AdWords are paid online ads that appear next to (usually just above and below) relevant searches.

So how do I get found?

Organically, getting on that first page for your niche market can be a huge challenge and according to Hubspot good keywords ar are not going to cut it alone anymore.   But don’t give up. This is not an overnight process.   And keywords still count, especially long-tail phrases.

Neil Patel best describes these keywords:

You can read more about his process for ranking here.  Neil LOVES long-tail keywords as they are easier to rank for as well as place more easily in your website content.   Hubspot has moved away from keywords and looks at what they call ‘topic clusters.’  This is their way to adjust to how Google evaluates every search typed in by a user.  Google personalizes your searches without you realizing it.  If you have been browsing home renovations sites, when you type in a query for drywall repair, it will pull up some of the sites you already looked at.   It will also be taking into consideration the location you are at and what device you are searching on.

And therefore, your long list of steps to optimize your site to improve your ranking on Google gets a little bit more complicated than it used to be.  Below are a few steps to take control of your optimization and help you get that first page ranking.

  • Website Analysis that includes meta tags, code, keywords, image tags and so on.
  • Keyword Analysis that includes target audiences as well as competitor analysis.
  • Develop buyer personas for your target audience as well as competitor analysis.
  • Baseline ranking of where you stand now. Track your progress on a spreadsheet.
  • Set clear goals and objectives.  For example Increase website traffic from 100 visitors a day to 200 in one month.
  • Content optimization that includes your chose keywords in titles, headings, and meta tags. Make sure strategic long-tail keywords are in your website source code.

The list could go on.   Getting on that first page of Google won’t be overnight, but taking small steps to ‘optimize’ your chances will help you get started on the road to digital success.

Take a look at this video from Google about how their service helps all types of small businesses succeed on their own terms.