How to get on page 1 of Google, free

An Australian chiropractor had bought a low-cost template website and contacted me when it didn’t appear anywhere in Google searches.

I edited the home page copy and changed some of the meta-tags in liaison with the developers. Within a couple of weeks, the site appeared on page 1 for a search of ‘chiropractic in [town]’. I also made the calls-to-action stronger, and my client started getting more enquiries from the site than she had before.

Appearing on search may not matter if people discover your business in other ways. But if you want your site to be found, there are certain tips and tricks you need to know.

Disclaimer: Note that Google’s algorithm is a strictly guarded secret and they move the goalposts all the time, so this is just a simple overview.

Links in the top three results of the organic (natural) listings get more clicks than any others on page 1, and page 1 links get more clicks than those on page 2 or 3. If your site is not appearing in the first three pages, it might as well not be there at all.

No matter what they say, no-one can promise you page 1 placement. However, there are certain things you can do.

One approach is to pay for AdWords, so your link appears in the ads at the top of the page or in the right hand sidebar. The cost depends on the level of competition for your desired key phrase. (We didn’t go down this route for my chiropractor client).

The other approach is to do on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

• Use Google’s free keyword tool to identify key phrases with a high number of searches, and ideally a low or medium amount of competition.

• Don’t try to include all your key phrases on one page or on every page. Plan one (or at most three) key phrase/s per page.

• Include your selected key phrase/s in the page name so they appear in the URL (web address).

• Also, include them in the title tag, that is, the main page heading (H1 in the site code).

• In the first 250 words or so, include your key phrase two or three times. Don’t do more than that or the technique will be perceived by Google as keyword-stuffing and your site penalised (dropped from the rankings).

• Make the key phrase bold (if appropriate), and/or a clickable link, because that tells Google it’s important.

Note: There is no point optimising your site for a phrase that no-one searches. And it should be easy to be found for a search of your own business name, but remember that people will only search it when they have already heard of you.

Even more importantly than any optimisation you do with the content and code, you need to collect inbound links from other highly ranked and relevant websites. Building a strong social media presence may help with this.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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One Response to How to get on page 1 of Google, free

  1. Jackie November 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Update:

    Since the above article was published, Google has removed their keyword tool from public use. Now you have to sign up for a Google AdWords account (you don’t need to actually pay for any ads), and use their keyword planner.

    There are other free keyword research tools, such as keywordspy.com. Click ‘keywords’ under the search bar, select UK from the dropdown flag menu, type your desired keywords or phrase and click ‘search’.

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