“Can you get us on to the Google?!?”
It takes courage, faith, persistence, grit, and well a little luck can help too. Getting to the front page of Google isn’t hard, it just gets mind-numbingly difficult for competitive industries. For the average search for a local company, you should be able to get your website ranking on the front page of Google.
Don’t believe us? Just Google: “nobody likes a know-it-all” and see the first or second result. Yup, that’s a blog post we wrote back in 2013. Not a lot of competition for that phrase!
Google wants to provide the “best search result possible”. That’s it.
This has been our marching orders for years now. Never forget, Google wants to provide those who search, the best result possible. If you can create the “best page possible”, you eventually get to the front page if not be first. Google doesn’t want to give you a result that you don’t like. If you click on a website from a Google search and click back right away, that’s a bad thing for Google. It sends a signal that whatever was on that page wasn’t what the searcher was looking for.
When someone Google’s what you do and finds your website, then stays there for more than a minute or two, you are on to something! That sends a positive signal to Google saying “searchers really value what’s here” and Google, in turn, sends that website closer to the front page of search results. This is why video is GREAT on a website, it keeps visitors there longer.
What is “the best page possible” to Google?
To Google, it’s a page that people click into and stay on for a period of time. A web page people want to be on (you can measure this using time on site and bounce rate). We’ve all been to those eHow web pages where we instantly realize the mistake we made and hit the back button. To Google, bouncing back off a web page is a signal that it’s low quality, that the user didn’t mean to go there, or their place in Google search results was artificially inflated.
If you try to “fake” your Google rankings or pay to get someone to put links all over the internet you’re going to have a bad time. Sure in the short run it may look great, but over time Mother Google always finds out about shady SEO practices. It’s not worth it. Instead what if you created actual content your customers want to see, read/watch AND share?
Testimonials, customers stories, interviews with employees, past project photos, video storytelling, interactive design, ANYTHING to get your potential customers to stay on your website longer.
When someone searches for what you provide and Google gives them your website and they solve their problem, Google has done its job. Connecting searchers with the results they’re looking for.
How Do You Come Up In Google Search Results? SEO 101
If you want to come up in Google search for a phrase, you must mention that phrase on your website, ideally several times and in different places (H1 Tag, Photo files name, Atl Text). It’s very rare that a website will rank for something they don’t talk about on their website. That means, if you want to rank in Google for “Foundations in Regina” then you need to get those keywords on your website in multiple different places.
Consistent Content Creation
Fresh content matters, but the type of content also matters. For the Foundation website (the website we got ranking in six months), we uploaded videos, photos, and used very little written content. Using photos to show your work and videos to build trust with potential customers is an easy way to get on Google’s radar. We uploaded 64 photos and published three videos. Each photo’s file name was renamed to include keyword searches we want to come up for in Google. This is important when it comes to on-page optimization.
A website that is beautifully designed but never updated won’t do well against a website that’s consistently updated with optimized content. Using your keywords in video titles and about descriptions matters. The file names of photos and once uploaded “alt tags” matter. Sometimes we even bring up “what would be hard for a bot to do?” when it comes to SEO. Proper grammar and file names that make sense en masse, are things that make your website stand out in a sea of programmatic search engine optimization.
How you structure your webpage matters. If you never write about what you want to come up for in search, the odds of coming up for that are slim to nill. You want to optimize pages for whatever keyword searches people would be using to find what you sell. Remember, using titles that have three to four keywords in them versus one to two do much better.
Moz’s On-page Optimization Tool is what we use to track on-page optimization. They use a 27 point list to grade your page against. I find it works well for giving me exactly what I need to be editing to achieve a better result in Google’s eyes. We also use “Yoast” and “All-in-One SEO” plugins on WordPress. These make it easy to get your pages optimized to the best of your ability.
Lastly, there is a rate of diminishing returns when it comes to on-page optimization. You can go down a rabbit hole and try to make every page perfect. We’ve found that as long as Yoast is yellow or green or Moz on-page grader gives it a 75% or more we are fine with that. I don’t believe in spending hours perfecting structure that may in the end have minimal impact on how your website ranks.
Do Links Actually Work?
Yes. That is the short answer. The long answer is, yes of course but it’s complicated.
Links used to be the almighty holy grail of search engine optimization. You get links, you climb the rankings and everyone is happy. Well something happened over the years, Google got smarter or SEOs go lazier. It’s not the links don’t work because they do, it’s just much more complicated now.
We once tested only building links back to a website, no content creation, no op-page optimization. The result? The website got to the first page of Google and stayed there for several years.
We once tested no links only updated, optimized content. The result? The website got to the first page of Google and still is there.
So what’s the catch? There isn’t one. There are several different ways to get to the first page of Google and we think you need to keep experimenting because you never know when Google is going to change things up again.
So what do you do for a search engine optimization strategy in 2022?
Create consistent new content. Keep your website updated. Publish stories, photos, and videos that are worth linking back to. The more content the better.
We got Dyanmaic Foundations to the first page of Google by uploading 64 photos that had the proper file name, and by publishing three videos to the website as well. The other thing that may have had an effect was we helped Dynamic claim their Google Places page as well and uploaded several photos there.
Your Google Places Page
If you are a small business you need to manage your own Google Places Page, it’s not that hard and we’ve experienced a positive correlation to an updated Google Page and search engine results. Upload your logo, some photos, and fill out the About section. This can have a positive impact on your online presence. Once per year (or ideally every couple months) add more photos to your Google Places Page. Again, it’s hard to give correlated data to say “do this and your rankings will increase” but every time we’ve updated a Google Places page in a major way it always has a positive impact on Google search rankings.
Social Media Strategy
We recommend having a presence on social media but treat it for what it’s worth. If your customers don’t make purchasing decisions on Facebook, chances are your social strategy won’t be directly for sales generation or lead generation. We think social is more public relations and customer service.
You need to have a presence there but you don’t need to be posting daily. We recommend a strategy made up of three themes you can then create content around. People, Passions, Projects. Using these themes, create content around what your company does, how it does it and any of the magic that happens behind the scenes.
For most companies you don’t need 20K+ followers, you just need to keep your feed updated and properly curated.
So what does a strategy like this cost?
It’s always difficult to budget for a project like this. Below are general amounts for a budget. In reality, these can change a lot! But for $9K this business owner got a website that ranks REALLY well in Google, a Google Places page that is up to date, professional photography, professional videography (YouTube channel set up), Instagram, Facebook (including 9 posts). And a way to measure success in the long run. Realistically Dynamic Foundation won’t have to spend any more on marketing for at least a year. AND with a simple strategy for social, the business owner can keep the channels active.
Website – $2,500
Basic SEO (On-Page Optmization) – $1,500
Website Updates for 6 months – $750
Photography – $550
Videography – $950
Google Place Page Setup & Manage – $500
Social Media Strategy for three months (includes setting up the accounts) – $2,250
I wouldn’t say we do this for most clients. Most folks just need a working website that their team can keep updated and edit themselves. The majority of the people we work with like an “a la carte” approach to their strategy so they aren’t paying for things they don’t need. Lately, many people have been asking us what would we do? Hence why we had to write this blog post for the local business that wants to dip their toe in the amazing world of online marketing.