How can I get my site onto the first page of Google?

In this post we'll detail our top 5 tips to help you get onto the first page of Google's search results and ahead of the competition.

Reverse engineering Google’s search algorithm has consumed the time of many a search engine optimiser. It’s probably safe to say that more collective hours have been spent attempting to reverse engineer the algorithm than were spent devising the algorithm in the first place!

I’m not going to add to that debt here, instead I intend to give some practical, whitehat tips to hopefully get your website onto that elusive first page. By whitehat I'm referring to techniques that play fair with the search engines, the opposite being blackhat, which does not play fair in return for short-term wins and can run the risk of getting your website penalised and dropped from the search engines altogether.

1. Use your target keywords and synonyms in content rich pages

It seems obvious but this is so often overlooked and there’s plenty of reasons why. Sometimes the design and aesthetics of a site can take over and left unchecked a minimal design with large background images can leave your pages devoid of your target keywords and thirsty for content.

A synonym, if you didn’t already know, is:

A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language, such as happy, joyful, elated.

Using synonyms is recommended to increase your keyword density whilst not degrading readability for your visitors. It’s also important that your pages are content rich so 800 or more words is an ideal target to aim for, which is actually no mean feat.

A big part of Google’s algorithm since the very beginning has been the external links from other websites and web pages into your website and it remains one of the most important factors. That’s probably because even with the deepest of pockets it’s a difficult metric to manufacture and Google is very astute at spotting those that are trying to massage their own link profiles.

It’s worth noting that all links are not equal, a link from a website with a high domain authority such as the BBC website is worth far more than a link from a friend’s blog with a low domain authority. The anchor text (the text that’s been linked to your website) is also important and should be a mix where some anchor texts are your target keywords and others are your brand name or domain name, with an overall weighting towards the latter.

Promoting social media sharing is a worthwhile exercise too as it is widely accepted that social media activity is a ranking factor albeit a small one.

3. Get into the habit of writing content that interests your target audience

Building links is hard but one way to get others to do the work for you is to write content that others will want to link to. But getting into the habit of writing good content and regularly is really hard. Generally speaking, for most of us the sole focus of our work day is not to just write content for our website and the task often gets pushed down the list.

Our best advice to combat this is to start a document for storing ideas for new content. Often when you find a spare moment to write some content the ideas will desert you. So maintaining a list of possible topics for new content means that when that time comes you have a range of ideas to choose from. With this approach you can start to make use of the idle parts of your day to think of content ideas and quickly jot them down.

In our experience, on this very blog, some of the posts that have attracted the more worthy links are the How to Guides that solve a particular problem and blog posts where we review a particular product or service.

It’s also worth reminding ourselves of tip number 1, making sure we’re focusing our content ideas around our target keywords. Whilst a departure from these can be welcome from time-to-time it’s important to remember our primary aims.

4. Ensure your website is technically well-executed

There’s plenty of tools available such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Website Grader, W3C Validator, and that allow you to test and benchmark your website.

Unlike almost all other rankings factors achieving a 10 out of 10 for how your website is built is something you can control, so what’s stopping you?

We use all of these tools ourselves during the design, development and testing of a new website or web application so we know they work and provide useful insights and a level of detail that's often hard for a human to reproduce, especially on projects with hundreds or even thousands of pages.

I may be showing my nerdy side here but we actually get quite excited about the test results for projects and are incredibly proud when we achieve a high rating, just take a look at the benchmarking results for some of our latest projects: The Warren Estate, Geocurve and Montrose Furniture.

5. Make your visitors happy

When pursuing a relentless battle to climb the search engine rankings we need to remember that although it’s an algorithm that determines the rankings, it’s a human being that will ultimately explore your website and decide whether they want to engage with your organisation or one of your competitors.

Therefore, we need to remember that our efforts need to satisfy both the search engines and visitors too. It’s important to encourage visitors to complete your desired call to action with ease and/or move beyond the landing page and explore your website.

So there you have it, our pearls of SEO wisdom that we hope you can use to help your website climb the rankings.

As with anything related to search engines, it's a constantly changing landscape that needs a lot of research and time invested into it. Initially that may involve a lot of work but as you climb that metaphorical mountain and the workload reduces you'll find you're making minor tweaks and adjustments, fine-tuning your code and monitoring the positive or negative effects via your analytics tools.

In time, you may even find yourself compelled to write your own blog post on the subject and if you do, let us know, we're always keen to learn!