If you’re serious about getting your products, services, and business found these days, knowing the ins and outs of solid search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just a good idea.
It’s an absolute must.
After all, even local consumers who prefer to do their buying in person use the internet to research their purchasing decisions and evaluate their available options these days.
Having a robust web presence and a highly visible website is everything in such an internet-centric world, so a high Google search ranking is key.
The vast majority of Google users don’t even bother clicking past page one of a search result, and an astonishing 25 percent of searchers click on the very first link on a SERP.
That said, the higher you can rank for your chosen key terms, the better your chances of getting found by exactly the people out there looking for you.
The following first-page SEO tips can help you get where you need to be.
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1. Develop a mastery of long-tail keywords
Soaring to the top of the most important Google search results is all about understanding how people actually use search engines to find what they’re looking for.
Although they may occasionally enter just one word into a query, they’re a lot more likely to enter phrases.
These phrases are called long-tail keywords, and nearly 92 percent of all searches involve them, so they’re something every business owner and SEO expert should master.
Long-tail keywords tend to be longer and significantly more specific than standalone keywords. They also come attached to lower average search volumes.
However, targeting them drastically raises your chances of attracting targeted, highly convertible traffic, so make them a part of your strategy.
2. Create next-level content
Not only is content still king when it comes to Google, but it’s more important than ever when it comes to achieving top SERP rankings.
Google is in the business of providing the best possible experience for its users. That means the content on the other side of those search results needs to be top shelf all the way.
You can get Google’s attention by producing meaty long-form content that digs deeply into topics your audience cares about and thoroughly answers common questions they have. (Aim for between 1,500 and 2,000 words for best results.)
Use headings and subheadings to improve readability and keep pieces organized. Sprinkle relevant keywords and useful links throughout in natural ways.
3. Explore different content formats
Mixing things up when it comes to the media types you use is a great first-page SEO tip to keep in mind.
These days, a great content strategy goes well beyond written blog posts and standalone web pages.
Online content is becoming increasingly diverse, so working various media types into your approach is super smart.
Google absolutely loves content that leverages the power of images, video, audio, and more, so look for ways to use them to enrich your posts. (Just make sure the options you include complement the content and add to it.)
Multimedia options can be terrific ways to repurpose and refresh older content as well, giving it a new chance to rank.
4. Target Google SERP features
You’ve no doubt noticed that Google search results today are a lot richer, more varied, and more exciting than they used to be back in the day.
In addition to the standard list of search result links you’d expect, you now have various SERP features to explore, including rich snippets, knowledge panels, and “people also ask” banks.
Features like these give your content multiple chances to rank well and catch an information seeker’s eye, so it’s worth learning how to target each one.
For example, you can target feature snippets by directly (and concisely) answering key questions searchers are likely to have.
Adding a structured data markup to your site can help you snag a visually appealing rich snippet, while adding the right alt tags and captions to images can help land you a spot in a Google image pack.
5. Focus heavily on user experience
Getting users to click on your search result in the first place is only part of the battle when it comes to first-page SEO.
Your website and content need to be able to deliver a top-tier experience once you’ve got people’s attention, so keeping your bounce rate low should be a major priority.
Make sure the title tag and meta description attached to your content accurately matches the content itself.
Searchers and Google alike expect search results to line up exactly with the user’s original intent.
Enrich your content with helpful links, graphics, videos, and other features that add value and raise your average session duration.
6. Learn from your competition
This is one of the best first-page SEO strategies any marketer or website owner can adopt.
When you perform a search on your targeted keywords, pay attention to the pages that rank ahead of yours.
What are they doing that you’re not, and how can you improve your own content to better compete with theirs?
Perhaps they’re targeting a wider selection of secondary keywords than you are. Maybe they’ve got a better internal linking strategy going on or are creating longer content that addresses more key concerns searchers have.
The point is to learn what you can and use it to help convince Google that your content deserves that top spot.
7. Make your site fast and responsive
Delivering a terrific user experience for those who land on your page via Google isn’t just about the content.
The site itself needs to be user-friendly, accessible, and capable of meeting even the highest visitor expectations.
For one thing, it needs to be fast. A website that’s clunky or slow will have even the most patient visitors clicking away after just a few seconds, so aim for ideal load times of 0-4 seconds max.
Ways to do this include implementing simple designs and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.
You’ll also want to make sure your site is adaptive and easy to view via any device your visitors might be using, especially mobile devices.
Keep in mind that many of your visitors will be looking for information on the fly, and that means cell phones, tablets, and other portable options.
8. Earn quality backlinks
Google has undergone multiple algorithm changes over the years, but high-quality backlinks have remained a key ranking signal through it all, and it’s not hard to see why.
A backlink is like a vote of confidence from another web user — proof that they find it valuable enough to recommend it to their own audiences — so earning more of them should be part of any first page Google SEO strategy.
Organic authoritative backlinks are the best, most valuable links to have, as they must be earned.
Do this by producing fantastic content, posting it around to gain exposure, and maintaining good relationships with other peers in your industry.
You can also consider building up your backlink catalog by guest-posting on authority sites.
You should also check your backlink catalog frequently for toxic backlinks that could be hurting your SEO strategy instead of helping it.
Remove or disable them promptly, preferably before they have a chance to hinder your other efforts.
9. Stay on top of your key metrics
When it comes to staying on top of how your SEO strategies are going, Google Search Console is a website owner’s best friend.
Use the search analytics function to keep track of the various search queries that are bringing users to your site, as well as the other metrics attached to your visits.
Use what you learn to improve your content and future efforts.
For example, if you see a particular long-tail keyword getting lots of impressions, but not commanding an equally high clickthrough rate, that’s a sign your title tag and meta description may need work.
Review your data frequently and address any issues you find promptly.
10. Build a powerful brand
Building a better brand image and boosting brand awareness is about more than simply helping your future customers choose you when they’re in the market for products or services like yours.
It’s also about convincing them to choose you when they’re still hunting for initial information on Google.
People will nearly always pick a name they recognize over one they don’t. You can boost your current brand awareness efforts by:
- Figuring out which social media platforms your audience uses and engaging with them there.
- Solidifying your brand’s backstory, unique voice, visual assets, and personality.
- Expanding your social media content well beyond info about your products, services, and business function.
- Partnering with top brands, thought leaders, and social influencers to expand your reach and tap into new demographics.
The more recognizable you become, the more you can expect your organic traffic numbers to grow in response.
Even if you really know your stuff when it comes to the basics of first-page SEO, improving your chances of nailing those coveted top search results is no easy feat.
Even if you have your technique down and are doing all the right things, you still need to be prepared for the challenges all SEO strategists face.
Check out our comprehensive breakdown of the biggest SEO challenges website owners, brand marketers, and SEO pros need to be aware of this year and beyond.
You’ll learn how to survive algorithm changes, avoid keyword cannibalization, master your meta descriptions, deal with duplicate content, and more!