Front Page of Google = Just a Marketing Unicorn?
Few brands would say no to being on the front page of Google. It’s one of those holy grails, or perhaps we should say, imaginary unicorns, of marketing… along with the unsaturated niche, viral tweets and overnight success.
Except this one is sometimes actually achievable. Not always, and probably not forever (Google will keep changing the rules), but at the moment, yes, it’s absolutely achievable.
What Stops a Brand Getting to the Front Page of Google?
Getting on the front page of Google is the result of lots of little incremental factors and fine tuning them over time to achieve the result you are looking for. Therefore not getting on the front page is never because you did one thing wrong. It’s because you didn’t do all the little things and get them working together in such a way that it hit Google’s sweet spot. Without going in too deep (there’s a ton of SEO specialist pages that’ll do that for you), here’s a few key reasons that are likely playing a big part in whether your website gets on the front page of Google or not.
1. Too Much Competition
Every niche online is saturated with huge amounts of content. This is particularly true of the main keywords. So, say you are in the luxury travel market. 1,600 people in the UK search for ‘luxury travel’ every month and their attention is fiercely competed for, with 1billion pages of information returned by search engines in response. Ouch.
However, look at longer keywords (known as long tail keywords), and the competition drops. So perhaps you offer luxury holidays to Sofia? The longtail keyword ‘sofia luxury travel’ has 70 people looking for it each month and *only* 1.7million pages returned by Google. Ok, that’s still a huge amount but way better than 1billion! And we can get an advantage over the competition by looking at what special blocks Google uses in the results for that keyword, and seeing if we can position our website and content in that block.
In addition, we can see what social media channels come up in the top 100 returns and make sure we are positioning our content properly on those social media platforms, with the right content, keywords and hashtags and – obviously – lots of shares. Finally, using even longer keywords will mean you can focus further down to maximise your chances of getting on top of the search – there might only be 10 people looking for ‘sofia luxury travel with children’ for example, but if you are selling that and each one of those searches sees you and converts to a sale, then #happydays.
2. Bad Structure
A website that is old and shaky, with broken links and dead ends, and lots of structural problems will absolutely tank on search. Other structural problems include a poorly-designed template if you use WordPress (some Templates are more equal than others) and bad user-centric design (UXD), which people don’t find intuitive or dislike using will also knock search results. This is because most people will just click away rather than wrestle with bad design, causing a high bounce rate. And then there’s the joint show stoppers otherwise known as java script and load speed. Java kills visibility dead, while slow load time can only be overcome if you have incredibly compelling content that people are willing to wait to load, which isn’t something many brands can claim.
3. SEO Set Up Badly or Not At All
It’s pot luck whether a website that’s been self coded or built on a bespoke website platform will have a decent facility to add metadata – sadly, quite a lot of website designers still don’t really *get* SEO. If that’s the case for your website, I strongly recommend that you get it switched over and properly optimised. If it’s been built on WordPress, however, you can be fairly sure that your website techie will have installed an SEO plug in, and if not, will do so if you ask. Clearly, however, they aren’t going to populate it for you. That job will be up to you, and it’s essential that you make sure every page is optimised for the keywords that matter for your brand.
Now, there’s a lot of elements that you can optimise on a website, and whether you just do the basics or optimise every possible element will definitely make a difference to its overall visibility on search. In addition, what keywords and metadata you add may be a waste of time if it’s just general terms for which the competition is fierce. That is where the ‘sweet spot’ keywords come in, see above.
At the front end, the content has to be written on point, using the sweet spot keywords for maximum effect, and the content structured properly on the page. Pictures – and how they are labelled – are an important element, as is local search optimisation. Backlinks also play a part as the more times your content is linked to by other good websites, the more ‘expert’ and useful Google will consider your content to be. Which is why inbound marketing and social media marketing are so important in this particular marketing unicorn quest ie getting on the front page of Google!
4. Poor Inbound Marketing
The general belief is that the more traffic a site gets, the more popular Google thinks it is and the higher it will rank in search. Yes and no. Traffic is a key ranking element, but not at the expense of quality or relevance. In addition, popularity is essential, but which I mean people actually spend time on it, and not just look at one page for a few milliseconds. High traffic but high bounce isn’t what Google is looking for, so what happens when people arrive on the site is just as important as getting them there in the first instance.
The content you produce needs to be relevant, expert, interesting and optimised for the keyword sweet spots that you will – hopefully – have already identified. The key then is to get as much outward sites linking to your content and people then clicking through and staying to read and browse and want more, and sign up and then buy from you. And this is where social media marketing plays a key role – if not THE key role – in getting your website to the front page of Google.
5. Scattergun Social Media Marketing
The speed and quantity of links shared is what makes social media platforms so incredibly important to Google. If a piece of content attracts a lot of attention and shares on social media then it will rank higher than a similar piece of content that isn’t being shared on social media.
However, there is still a huge amount of content being shared on social media. Every minute there’s 350,000 tweets sent on Twitter, 1,300,000,000. 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute, 65,000 photos and videos shared on Instagram, and 3.3 million posts on Facebook. So to get the clicks on your content, and therefore the visitors to your content, you need to have a plan.
What you don’t do is share posts to just have a ‘presence’ on social media, or just share content once or twice at a random time when you don’t have an engaged audience. Quantity is important, but so is doing it the right way, at the right time, and on the right platforms for your brand.
When the Magic Happens
Doing one or even some of these things won’t get you the result you want, to be honest. However, making sure it is all focused and aligned and working together over a period (this is a marathon, not a sprint) will help your website get traction and hit Google’s Sweet Spot.
You can also download our free eBook guide “9 Steps to Getting on the Front Page of Google“, which breaks it all in to bite-sized pieces for you. And if you do that, well, I can’t promise unicorns, but that is when the magic really starts to happen.