I seem to revisit this topic quite a lot because, while things to change, they also stay the same. As you are no doubt aware, Google is always changing. In fact, a recent study suggested that there were over 1600 changes to Google search in the past year. Not all were algorithm changes, but it does go to show you that Google is always evolving.
So l thought now was a good time to revisit this topic and see just what it takes to be #1 in Google.
#1 – Search Phrase Research
This should be obvious to people – but search phrases are what bring people to your site and hopefully convert them from browsers to buyers. So ensuring you target the RIGHT phrase is the most important part.
Now, search phrase research hasn’t changed, but sites we used to use, like Google AdWords, have made it increasingly difficult to determine the right phrases. While it’s still great at providing suggestions – it’s not so great at providing traffic estimates anymore.
That is because Google has opted, instead, to provide ranges of search volume instead of actual search volume, unless you are an AdWords advertiser who spends money.
That’s right – no more free lunch from Google. But there are alternatives.
For example, I use an extension in Google Chrome called “Keywords Everywhere” to help me get down to that short list of the most searched for phrases.
I first do my research on AdWords – start with a single (or a few) words, then let Google generate a list of suggestions for me. I then go through those suggestions, weeding out the ones that aren’t relevant, until I get down to a list of likely phrases. I also look at Google’s search volume range and eliminate lower volumes.
Once I’ve gotten the list down I copy it to Keywords Everywhere to get search volumes. From there I can use the actual search volumes to shorten my list even more, getting it down to the most searched for (and likely highest converting) list of phrases.
#2 – Optimizing
The rules here haven’t changed all that much. Page length is about the same, and the number of occurrence’s are generally the same. What you can do is mix in some similar phrases into the mix. So instead of focusing on “Kelowna Search Engine Optimization Specialist” for example, I might add in “Search Engine Optimization Kelowna” “SEO in Kelowna” and other similar phrases, ensuring that the page content flows naturally and doesn’t appear to be a landing page.
#3 – Link Building
As with optimization, Link building hasn’t changed that much over the years – some links are worth more, some are not. Social media continues to play a much larger role. Business profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more all help contribute to your overall link footprint. But they must be BUSINESS profiles. Personal profiles aren’t fully indexed by Google, whereas the crawlers can get into a business profile and count not only the link to your site as a link, but also links to your site from your various posts as links.
Remember that there is no “hard and fast” rule about what a good link is, or how many will get you onto page 1, but you can’t be too aggressive. This could get you penalized.
A good place to start is to analyze your competition – see who their links come from and see if you can emulate that.
2017 will prove to be interesting, with the growth of AI and its impact on search results. Google is slowly letting AI reprogram algorithms as needed so expect to see more frequent, yet smaller, updates messing with your rankings.