6 minute read
How to rank on Google’s first page without violating the rules
Updated on June 18, 2020 by Naman Modi
Getting on Google's first page is not a walk in the park. You must be willing to put in lots of hard work while keeping a close eye on ever-changing rules and algorithms. If you let your guard down, you risk having your page fall off the first pages altogether. If that happens, you’ll have a hard time getting people to click your link because most people don’t click past the first page of Google search results anyway.
To qualify for Google’s top ranking, relevance and content are key. Now, let us find out what factors contribute to ranking before we embark on how you can get on the coveted first position on Google naturally, without bending any rules.
To get on the first page of Google, evaluate your website by asking yourself the ten questions below:
- How is the loading speed of your site?
- Is your site mobile-friendly?
- Are users happy when they visit your website, or do they have complaints?
- Do you have quality backlinks?
- Does your site have social signals?
- It's good to have some images on your website, but are they optimized?
- How would you rate the quality of your content? Do you have a low or high bounce rate?
- How old is your domain?
- Are you using Schema mark-up?
- What is the average length of your web content?
How do you get on Google’s top page?
Set up SEO tools
The best place to start working on your site to improve search results is to research free SEO tools. Tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush (pictured above) can help gain more insight on your website's performance. Once you analyze your site’s existing stats, you can pinpoint which areas need more work. Quality content with images and backlinks are essential to improve your ranking. This will attract traffic and inform the search engine that you have an authoritative site that deserves a high Google ranking.
Hire SEO experts
Whether you are a newbie or are well acquainted with Google’s ranking process, one thing is certain: sometimes you just need to pay to play. Since this is a serious business, you need someone with expert knowledge of search engines to do the heavy lifting for you. If you have a small internal team or simply don’t feel like you can keep up with changing rules and standards, you can always hire SEO experts. SEO doesn't need to be expensive. There are affordable SEO services out there that can help you create a winning site that is user friendly and mobile optimized while skipping all the trial-and-error that comes with navigating this yourself.
Use white hat SEO methods
White hat SEO methods are practices or tactics to improve a website's ranking in SERPs. However, they ensure integrity by following Google's rules and regulations. It is good to embrace the practice because it keeps your site out of trouble.
The opposite of that is black hat SEO, in which the website developer uses deceitful methods to try to get on top. Such practices include buying links and cloaking techniques that are not genuine. All these are methods that violate the terms and conditions set by Google.
Therefore, it is important to always make sure that you, or any vendor you hire to improve your SEO, use white hat techniques to avoid being penalized and banned by Google and other search engines. If you get banned, you will lose major business potential since people won’t be able to find your website.
To avoid this, use the SEO methods outlined below:
- Create quality content: Your readers deserve useful content that helps solve their problem. Always think of your target audience when developing content. If your content is genuinely helpful and provides excellent answers to commonly searched questions, Google will reward it with a higher ranking. Listen and understand your audience to find out what they’re searching for and include that in your content. Using a tool for SEO keyword research enables you to find relevant keywords that show which content needs optimization.
- Use keyword-rich meta tags: Meta tags help to improve clicks-rated for SERPS. Although Google does not rank pages using the keyword information in a meta tag, sometimes it uses the text to create snippets. Meta descriptions help to give a short description in a readable manner suited for users and search engines. Unfortunately, they are likely to get spammed. Google fetches for such abuse and penalizes those who do this.
- Build a user-friendly site: Make sure your site loads fast and is easy to navigate. When creating your information layout, be mindful of the reader. Getting around your website should be a breeze. Otherwise, people will quickly move on to the next website, and you don't want that. If people have a good experience on your site, it will do well in organic search.
Optimize your website for mobile search
60% of searches are from a mobile device. With such a large – and growing! – percentage of mobile searches, if your site is not optimized for mobile you are isolating the majority of readers. Don't wait to get low ranks because people cannot access your website from their phone. If you want to check whether your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google's mobile-friendly test. Apart from showing the results, it also pinpoints loading issues, if any. Then you can focus on the most important areas for improvement.
How do you know if you are violating Google rules?
If your site has violated rules Google has set forth, Google will sometimes take "manual action". That means someone at Google found something wrong and they let you know. Things that can go wrong are outlined in Googles Webmaster Guidelines which you can find here. If they found something, they'll alert you using Google Search Console (definitely sign your site up for it). But getting a manual action is a backward looking technique. In other words, it's too late. You can fix it, but at least some damage has been done. Some top examples of violations include:
- Automatically generating content using bots, etc.
- Bad redirects
- Hidden text or links
- "Doorway" pages
- Usiing in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Cloaking pages (hiding them for ranking purposes)
- Scraping content from other sites
- ... and more
Tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs.com, and others include the ability to scan your site for problems. A good SEO agency will abide by the rules and be completely transparent in what they do for you.
The steps outlined in this article will jumpstart your journey to reach Google’s first page of search results. However, there are many other factors at play. The highest rankings are reserved for sites that have excellent technical SEO and appeal to the actual humans who are reading the website. Building your brand, improving your online reputation, and cracking Google’s algorithm are all components of your search engine ranking. Spending time developing all three of these components will help your site rise in Google’s search results.