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Reaching Page 1 of Google by Darren Strudwick
This week's blog is more of a tutorial or perhaps a lesson in reality for the countless number of people I speak to on a daily basis who believe that obtaining a page 1 position in Google for their website is nothing short of a birth right, as well as being automatic, instant and without any additional cost.
I wish all the above were true, but it's not. I always remember right at the begining when I created my own website wondering how to get it to show up in the search results on page 1. At that time I didn't have a clue how to do it, but what I did have was common sense. I knew my website would not just magically appear on page 1. Never for a second did I even assume it would appear in the first ten pages. Without any real knowledge of how Google works, I knew that if my website was going to appear on page 1, it would take time and would require some kind of effort on my part to make it happen.
I can't even begin to say the number of my clients who not only go looking for their website on page 1, but often go looking for it before I've even finnished making it; and to add insult to injury are quick to actually blame me for the fact that Google have not indexed their website within the space of seconds. On the part of my clients, this illustrates a complete and total ignorance as to how Google works, but hopefully I can now replace that ignorance with knowledge.
Lets break it down into several areas:
1) The major area, as far as most clients are concerned is timescale. Many of my customers, out of ignorance, have the belief that their website will instantly appear in Google and they are shocked and dismayed when they can't find it straight away. If you take a second to think about the processes involved, you can soon realise why things happen at a much slower pace. The internet encircles the whole globe and is filled billions upon billions of websites. With that number of websites, when a new one arrives on the scene - especially if it is a small website with just a few pages - it's going to be difficult to spot. Google sends out it's robotic website detective known as the Googlebot to crawl the internet looking for new websites. As fast as Googlebot is (and it's very fast taking only a fraction of a second to look at a website), with billions of websites to look through, it's still going to take a while to find yours. For those not happy with the speed at which Googlebot works, all you have to do is donate several million dollars to Google to help them improve their technology and then Googlebot will go faster.
Typically Googlebot can find a new website within a month, so atleast you can be sure within a month, if you type your company name into Google, your website will appear. But, this then leads us to the next question .... what if you don't type your company name in, what instead if you want to type in various other and relevant key word phrases? This is where a whole new level of patience is required. At the time of typing this blog, my website is on page 5 of Google when you do a search using the phrase "website design". In total I have been on page 1 several times in the past however from the time I made my website until the time I got to page 1, nearly 2 years went by. Yes that is correct, it took 2 years for me to get to page one for my search phrase of choice and each time my site dropped, it took months to years to get back to page 1. I have clients right now going through the proper motions trying to get their websites to page 1, and in all cases it's not happening over night, but is taking time.
2) Naturally, the next area of interest for clients is cost. Google themselves do not charge anything to put a website on page 1, but they have a strict set of criteria they look for in order to rank a website on the first page. To implement all those criteria is what costs the money. Unless you have the knowledge to implement these criteria yourself, you'll need to pay someone else, such as me! to do it.
The process of playing around with the design of a website so that it will meet Google's list of criteria is known as Search Engine Optimisation - or SEO for short. Many clients are surprised to find out how expensive SEO work actually is. Making a website is easy, getting it to page 1 of Google is hard. The cost of SEO is usually atleast 5 or 6 times the cost of the construction of the website itself. So if you spend £500 having a website made, have at least another £2000 put aside if you want to be on page 1 of Google.
So, this brings us to the question of what work SEO involves. What is it that needs to be done which is so expensive? In answer, I will arrange the main points as a checklist below:
a) Content - There is a saying the SEO world that "content is king". What this basically means is your website needs a lot of content. Google loves content! This is why often you'll see a blog section on many websites. A blog is a way to add lots of content to your website. I have written several blogs so far for my website, plus in addition to the main pages of the site - home, prices, contact us etc, I also have nearly 50 other pages! A cheap website with just a few pages will never rank on page 1 of Google, but a website with 50 pages will. If you want to be on page 1, but were thinking of spending £500 on a small website, think again. Think about spending a lot more on a bigger website.
b) Social Media - Google now attaches a lot of importance to this. Once your website is made you need a Facebook profile, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin and Google Plus. You then need to be constantly posting, tweeting, uploading pictures, engaging with and building up your Social Media audience (for example gaining lots of likes on your Facebook page). It is too time consuming for one person to be doing this every day, so you would need to pay an SEO company to do this for you and it needs to be done constantly. Doing this can have a real positive effect on your Google rankings.
c) Links - Many people are confused by this concept. When I say links, I don't mean your website linking to other websites, but the exact opposite, ie. other websites linking to yours. Google places a lot of importance on this concept. The idea behind it is that if another website links to your website, it's doing that because it views your website as worth linking to, perhaps because your website has good content. If lots of websites link to you, then Google really starts to take note and will think you have a great website and so you will go up in the rankings. The expense is in the fact you need a lot of links and high quality links. Your link needs to be everywhere - directories, forums, blogs. It's an extremely time consuming process. There are roughly about 2000 websites linking to mine. The trauma of making that happen was such, that I won't do it for anyone else, no matter how much money I am offered! So I would outsource this kind of a job.
That pretty much sums up what it takes and how long it takes to get to page 1 in Google. As you can see, it's not an easy process. It's time consuming and expensive, but I hope that has shed some light on it.