Why You Shouldn’t Trust a First Page SEO Guarantee & What You Should Look for Instead
Read on to learn more about this topic! Click on the sections below to jump right to your specific question.
How do I get on to Google’s first page, guaranteed?
The first page on Google search results — where fortunes are made by ranking in the top spot for the right keywords. Everyone desires it, but not many know how to get there.
Countless business owners have been duped by search engine optimization (SEO) firms and so-called “SEO expert(s)” into believing they can get guaranteed SEO results within a certain period of time.
This remains one of the biggest fallacies in digital marketing, as well as the reason why business owners and marketers are skeptical about investing in search engine optimization. Another issue is that most SEO firms don’t factor in the buying journey into their strategy, especially important for the B2B buying journey.
While there is no real silver bullet to get on to the first page of Google search results, there are definitely sustainable and ethical ways to increase your odds of doing so. Read on in this post, and we will share some of those methods.
Can you guarantee SEO at all?
Search engine optimization is a living, breathing beast. There are a gazillion different variables that a trained SEO expert will have to gauge before they can provide you with any realistic rankings expectations. By the way, if you are new to SEO, this ultimate guide to SEO for small businesses will be helpful for you!
First off, let’s start by understanding search engine optimization on a higher level. There are four broad types of business-dependent search engine optimization, based on the type of business or website that you operate:
- Local SEO: This type of SEO pertains mostly to businesses that operate in a certain geography, and are only able to accommodate clients within that area. So for example, you would imagine a Local Bakery is confined to serving local customers, they would want to set up an SEO strategy that is optimized for the local area. This means using locally relevant keyword(s), setting up a google my business listing, and optimizing their website architecture for local SEO. Check out this guide on local SEO for small businesses if you are interested in learning more!
- National SEO: This type of SEO is for businesses that can service anyone within their country, or they may just want to set up an SEO strategy to target a specific country. A national plumbing service would also want to invest in National SEO, alongside Local SEO (for all of their branches) to broaden their reach. National SEO is less about micro-optimizations like Local SEO, and more about broad stroke strategy
- International SEO: This is an elevated version of National SEO, the only difference is that you are optimizing your content and website for local languages. This may be done by offering content in regional languages or even setting up regional websites (if the investment makes sense). Regional websites are usually set up using top-level domains (TLD), so this is why you might see a company set up websites ending in com, ca, co.uk, and such regional TLDs.
- E-Commerce SEO: The search engine optimization to climb the rankings for an e-commerce store is much different than it would be for any other type of business. This type of SEO involves a lot of optimization around keywords, and conversely the technical structure of your product pages.
Now that we have a good understanding of the fact that search engine optimization is different for each type of business, we can discuss the nuances of how Google decides what shows up in rankings.
How does Google decide what comes up first?
While Google definitely doesn’t disclose the nature of its search algorithm, it does give us hints as to how to produce content that will provide its searchers with the best information possible. I mean, they have explicitly stated that their mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. So they have designed their algorithm to show the most relevant, and useful information at the top of their search engine results.
Google also regularly updates its search algorithm in an effort to provide searchers with more relevant, and useful information. Search engine optimization used to be a black-hat marketer’s haven, as they used to do keyword stuffing and all sorts of unethical tactics to climb rankings. So in order to refine search results, and remove bad actors from search results, Google regularly publishes broad-stroke algorithm updates that sometimes upend entire rankings.
Savvy SEO experts also regularly put together google ranking factors every year based on their observations. Here are the latest ranking factors (in order of importance), put together by MonsterInsights:
- High-Quality Content: Would you be happy if you landed on your content? Does it answer the query easily and sufficiently?
- Quality, and Quantity of Backlinks to your page: Are reputable sites linking back to your pages?
- Search intent: Does your content address a user’s search intent?
- Website Loading Speed: Does your site load quickly enough?
- Mobile Friendliness: Does the page load properly, and quickly on a mobile device?
- Domain Authority: Is the site reputable, do they have a good backlink profile?
- Keyword Optimization: Is the page optimized for keywords, and not doing keyword stuffing?
- Website Structure: Is there a logical structure for the website, and is there a sitemap?
- Website Security: Does the site have HTTPS encryption?
- User Experience: Are people clicking on their links, are they sticking around, and do they actually read their content?
Now you’ve got an idea of the factors that Google considers before it decides on search rankings. But without getting even more technical, let’s zoom out a bit, and look at SEO success from a birds-eye view and how it pertains to keyword selection in the next section.
What are the three stages of ranking in SEO?
There are three stages of ranking on google search, and staying in rankings:
- Discovery: When Google’s spiders crawl your website and discover your page (or if you request for Google to crawl your page). This is when your page is added to Google’s massive database of pages on the web
- Relevance: Now that Google knows about your page, and has got an idea of what the page is all about, it may start to serve the page for relevant keywords that it thinks would be a good match.
- Authority: Google search results generally show pages that are linked to other pages (backlinks). The more of these backlinks that your page has, the higher the odds of your page ranking (along with having high-quality content, and all of the other ranking factors of course). Also, if your website is already an authority on the topic/keyword in question, your page has a higher chance of ranking. This is especially true if you create an internal link from one of your pages that is ranking high for the given topic/keyword to your new page (passing link juice between pages).
Some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to gauge your SEO success would include:
- organic traffic
- keyword ranking
- conversion rate
- bounce rate
- page load time
- backlinks established
These metrics can be reported using a combination of Google Analytics (or any other analytics suite), and any sort of SEO tool.
How do you get on the first page of Google without paying?
The quick answer to this common question is to publish quality content, often. SEO results compound over time, and the best time to get started is now.
Asides from publishing quality content, you should focus on the technical components of search engine optimization that will make your job easier to rank on the first page of search results. Here are some of those ways:
- Going after low competition keywords, and working your way up to higher competition keywords as your content starts to climb rankings.
- Attracting (or actively seeking) high-quality backlinks to your content. It’s no secret that backlinks are still a large part of Google’s ranking algorithm. You can accomplish this by link building, but that is quite time-consuming.
- Promote your content through your distribution channels. If you have an email list, that is an excellent way to share your content. The same goes for your social media channels.
- There are many other optimizations that can be made through technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO, but that is a whole other topic on its own.
While it may not be easy to rank on the first page of Google (especially without search engine optimization experience), it is definitely doable by following best practices.
Do you need an SEO?
Don’t Trust Providers who Guarantee SEO Results
If you are a business owner or marketer, you have likely been pitched by countless SEO providers (especially the dubious ones who provide a first-page SEO guarantee within a certain period of time – this is a certifiable SEO scam). These types of providers are frowned upon by the SEO industry as well.
The problem, and challenge with an SEO service, SEO agency, SEO firm, an SEO company (or even SEO consultant) that offers such ‘guaranteed SEO results’ is that they will often use cheap, unethical, black-hat tactics to make your content rank. But, this is not a wise SEO strategy, as your site will likely be penalized in the future. Don’t believe me? Read on.
Google’s Self-Driving car project Waymo is now smarter, and safer than the average human driver. So if Google has that level of technical capability, then tracking unethical SEOs is fast work for them. The way Google rolls out algorithm changes is meant to improve search quality in broad strokes, so while it may seem like you’ve got the jump on their algorithm temporarily, the trick is on you. They know what is happening, and they are just concocting a way to programmatically eliminate cheap hacks in an efficient manner. Here is a complete history of Google Algorithm Updates, and how they have removed spam from search results.
Long story short, you definitely don’t want to trust providers who guarantee SEO results, as their actions may lead to a penalty from Google. Irrespective, SEO is extremely important for any business, with recent research showing that around 93% of online experiences begin with search engines.
How to Hire an SEO firm?
Business owners and marketers are often busy folks who are juggling a hundred different things. So it may make financial sense to hire an SEO expert, but you should still judge them based on these criteria:
- Do they have experience with SEO?
- Is their mentality geared towards quick wins or long-term growth?
- Do they explicitly promise guaranteed rankings within a certain time frame? (run away if they do)
- Do they start with a broad SEO campaign strategy, and narrow it down into tactics?
- Ask them to do keyword research, put together a list of targeted keywords, and ask them to walk you through why they make sense for your business
- Do they have a strong grasp of these SEO components:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Technical SEO:
- Ask for a technical, and search audit
- Do they have references?
- Does their quality of communication meet your expectations and needs?
- Do they have experience with Google AdWords/Google Ads?
- Do they ask insightful questions about your business? Do they seem genuinely interested in building SEO success for your business?
Based on the above criteria, you will be able to sort out the quality providers from the rest. Good SEOs are long-term partners that build your search traffic and deliver measurable business results.
Curious to see how you can win more business by investing in SEO? Let us walk you through a free strategy consultation today!