The Importance of Being on Page 1 in Google

In last week’s blog post, I explained what a page-1 presence in Google can mean for a business: A steadily-ringing phone, more appointments, and ultimately more sales. Anyone who understands the value of a page-1 presence undoubtedly wants to be on page 1! So today, as promised, I am going to share the most important things we’ve found to boost your SEO.

A Brief Recap of our Journey to the Top

Our journey to the top of Google began in 2007 when an SEO guru began helping our agency to obtain a page 1 position in Google for several pertinent advertising terms in Birmingham. I shared how we achieved the #1, page 1 position for a little while, then how we slipped back to page 4 for our main terms, because, as the guru had cautioned, we didn’t maintain our SEO. I then explained how this fueled my desire to quickly begin learning all I could about SEO and how I subsequently was able to get us back on page 1 for those and other key terms.

Lastly, I shared how Brum Advertising has been working recently to optimize for the highly-competitive search term “web design in Birmingham AL” and how I was encouraged by a post from Atlanta-based SEO guru, Jenny Munn, as she interviewed Atlanta-based web designer, Tom Nguyen about his success climbing the ranks of Google in such a competitive market as Atlanta.

So now that I’ve set it up, I want to share with you the most important SEO components we’ve found to achieve a page 1 presence in Google.

How To Optimize to Reach Page 1

The basics are the most important components to be sure. If the basics aren’t right, you’re building your SEO on a shaky foundation. Below I have listed the main components I believe to be most crucial to optimizing your website.

The SEO community generally speaks in terms of two types of SEO: 1. On-page and 2. off-page optimization. The below list shares with you the SEO components we deem most important for each type of SEO. [NOTE: The order of the following items does not reflect order of importance.]

On-Page Optimization

  1. Build your site in an easily-optimizable CMS like WordPress and install a plugin like WordPress SEO (or Yoast) to assist you. Yoast visibly rates your SEO progress as you implement the major SEO components of your on-page optimization.
  2. Optimize your Page Heading using the key word or phrase for which you want to be found on that particular web page. [Of course you should only focus primarily on one keyword or phrase per page.]
  3. Optimize your meta data, including the title tag and meta description on each page.
  4. Write the body of your web copy to include at least 600 words per page, being sure to include your key phrase up to 3 times per 100 words. Write simple sentences when possible, as google’s readability test can either help or hurt you.
  5. Make sure the images on each page are renamed and contain alt tags using the target keyword.
  6. Edit/change your permalinks for each page to include that page’s main key word or phrase, separating each word with a hyphen. It should look something like this: http://brumadvertising.com/web_design_in_birmingham_al/
  7. Word of Caution: Don’t optimize for the same key word on multiple pages! You don’t want to cannibalize your pages, dividing your efforts, and thus confusing Google about where to send folks!
  8. NOTE: Your page title should be more than 40 characters, but less than Google’s recommended 70 character limit and should include your keyword/phrase.
  9. Include your keyword in your headings (H1, H2, H3 headings) where possible.
  10. Be sure to use H1, H2, & H3s properly. For instance, always make your first heading the H1 header. The next an H2. Then H3s as subheadings under your H2s. Don’t skip from H1 to H3 and so forth.
  11. Include outbound links to articles that may talk about your industry.
  12. Submit a sitemap for your website to Google, making it easier for search engines to peruse and index your site. Google can more efficiently crawl your site and retrieve things found in your site.
  13. Create a regular blog. Google likes to see fresh relevant content on your website. When you add content, it causes Google to crawl your site more often! Be sure to optimize for your keywords in your blogs, and provide links back to the key sections of your website for which you want to use the blog post to optimize. If your website doesn’t have a blog, add one. This is one of the easiest ways to keep your site updated with fresh and relevant content for which Google will reward you.
  14. Use internal linking throughout your site as you reference other services you offer on any given web page.
  15. Spend time on your About Us page using internal linking to the main sections of your website.
  16. Video blogging is another powerful SEO tool to use. Consider creating a video blog, then transcribing it to also give you the added juice of having a textual blog. Again, Google loves and rewards fresh relevant content! The beauty and ease of this in having created a video blog is that you’ve already taken the time to script your video blog, so you just need to post that text for your textual blog!

Off-page Optimization

  1. Backlinks used to be a major component of off-page optimization. Since Google’s algorithmic change regarding PageRank, however, on December 6, 2013, Backlinks are not as important, but they are still one of many keys to improving rankings. One great way to get backlinks is to send Press Releases about special events or happenings surrounding your business. Then, when something positive is published about you, ask the publisher, if they didn’t already do so, to provide a link back to your business website. Backlinks are great, especially when they come from an authoritative source like a local news venue such as the Business Journal. The Birmingham Business Journal, for example, did an article on the rapid growth of the Brum Agency in 2009, naming us the fastest-growing small business. These types of authoritative backlinks can infuse real juice (“link juice”) to your site.
  2. Use Social Media to promote your business, as well as your blog posts. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, etc.. Facebook’s paid “Boost” is a great way to launch your blogs to your followers, as well as to those in your city. You can hone the area and age range you want your post to be seen. Literally, for $10-$20, you can “Boost” or send out your post to several thousand people.
  3. Find business-related blogs (Manta as an example) and post comments giving your opinion along with a link back to your website.
  4. Create a Google My Business and Google Plus page (Brum example). This will help not only your organic rankings, but it will help you to show up in Google’s Local Pack; these are the red-ballon listings of 3 business listings that show up at the top of the first page when you Google most any type of business in a particular city. [One important tip here: Have customers/clients to go post reviews for you. The more good reviews posted in your Google business profile means the more relevance Google gives your business and thus the better chances Google will show your business in the local listings!]
  5. Ask clients to post reviews in your Google My Business listing (and other directories for that matter). Google likes seeing this and will reward you in the rankings.
  6. In addition to Google My Business, submit your site to other relevant and trusted online business directories. Not only will the authoritative backlinks help your rankings, but you may actually get some direct business as a result of being listed in these directories. Imagine that!
  7. Create a forum or online discussion board and begin discussions with your friends and business connections. Also blast to social media to gain further exposure. Always make your content as compelling as possible to gain as many shares and likes as possible.

Summary

This is by no means an exhaustive list for How To Optimize to Reach Page 1. This is merely a good list to start with. Brum, in fact, is still working to implement some of these items (and others). In fact, we will never be finished optimizing and neither should you! A website is living, breathing, and ever-changing. Your SEO must be seen as a never-ending journey; it is the way proper SEO is done. These things take time, but they are so worthwhile for the growth of your business!

This list should keep you busy for a while. If, however, you are staying busy enough with your own day-to-day business and need help implementing an SEO plan that gets results at a reasonable cost, let an agency like Brum Advertising assist.

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Brum Advertising is a full-service advertising agency offering traditional marketing, SEO, and web design in Birmingham AL and around the country.