In 2020 I completed my 26th year as an online consultant. After all these years, what has been a consistent topic to be explained is how the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) work. By squashing myths and inserting reality.
This is one of the primary topics that my clients struggle with most. First, they ask how they can rank, which then requires I explain the truth about what is required to attain the rankings they claim to desire.
How Do I Get “Top 10” Search Engine Rankings?
Chances are, for most, that will never happen.
After the launch of a new WordPress Website, one of the most common follow-up issues clients want to know is when they will be in the “top 10.” The most common SEO questions I get asked that I've already posted about are:
- How long until I'm on the top page?
- All I need to do is add a plugin, right?
- How do I choose my keywords?
- Where do I put all my keywords?
- How do I “SEO”?
By the end of this conversation, the person I am speaking with is usually demoralized now that they know the reality of what is required. The time and effort needed and the challenge to be embraced for any hope of getting top rankings is nothing less than overwhelming.
You've heard that phrase, “there's no such thing as a free lunch?” But, boy, does that apply to search rankings.
While “free” listings don't cost you anything like PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising does, “Top 10” are almost impossible to attain. That's right; I said it — almost impossible.
If you are serious about being ranked on the top page ahead of the hundreds, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of other sites fighting for the same spots — time to become good friends with reality.
Search Engine Reality vs. Hype…
Have you noticed that there is even less available real estate “above the fold” for organic rankings? This is due to more ad blocks than ever. That's how Google makes its money.
Being in the top 2 is pretty much what you need to attain if you want to be seen without scrolling. The rest are below the fold.
Add to that, if hundreds or thousands of sites all want to pull on the top page for the very same terms you do, how can you rise above them all? You have to be the best. You have to do what is necessary to be perceived as the cream of the crop.
Better than the sites already owning those positions. That's a tough hill to climb because many of the big brands own those slots. This leaves us, little guys, at a huge disadvantage.
Your competitors probably desire those positions as much as you do. So, if we put desire aside, what actually will make the difference? Think long-game.
Making the Right Choices and Taking Action
SEO isn't just about inserting keywords. It includes your site performing well with content that contributes to your Expertise, Authority, and Trust factors. There are many great resources online that guide site owners on the reality of what is required to succeed — here is the list I rely on.
Unfortunately, many ignore the reality, and I can understand why. At that same time, you cannot assume that you can tweak this, do a little of that or throw some keywords here or there. Many prefer not to spend the necessary time or money and believe that rankings will eventually happen anyway.
That. Won't. Happen.
The Truth About Top Page Search Engine Rankings
You have to take a serious look at the your market and consider:
“What makes my site so much better than the multitude of competitors already in those slots, for my target phrase(s), that I warrant being above all the rest?“
Do you have an answer for that question?
If you do not have a rock-solid realistic answer, you probably do not yet know what to do to achieve that result. Time to get to work and do some due diligence.
Each search site, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, has its own proprietary algorithm that takes hundreds of factors into consideration (algorithm) when determining how to rank a site. Albeit none are perfect, these algorithms are constantly evolving and changing all to offer the searcher (so they say) the most relevant results based on the search criteria used.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to be the most relevant, trusted, highest quality site for the terms you want to rank for.
5 SEO Truths
Remember, websites and search engines are just computers talking to computers. Search engine algorithms rely on your site's content, structure, inbound links, and performance metrics. These variables are what search engines use to determine your credibility and status throughout the network.
Even still, as complicated as these algorithms are, your best chance to attain rankings over the long-haul is pretty black and white. If you keep these 5 truths in mind…
#1 SEO TRUTH: CONTENT
You must continually grow your site with relevant, useful information of value to your site visitors worth linking to. But, unfortunately, search engines know that anyone can exchange links — that doesn't indicate quality or value.
You want to attain one-way links into your site by crafting link-worthy content. One-way inbound links are a vote of confidence that you have a good site and information.
In 2020, inbound links were more difficult than ever to attain. The fact is that websites do not link off-site as often as they did back in the day. Regardless, it would be best if you kept this goal in mind.
Structuring your posts properly matters too. Want your posts to be read? Then avoid these bad habits.
#2 SEO TRUTH: RELEVANCY
In addition, the more you are about, the less you are about any one thing. This is where doing keyword research and focusing on the terms you know your customers use is key.
Search engines will rank the most relevant and authoritative site/page/article related to the term searched for. It will help if you have detailed, concentrated pages about individual topics to accomplish this.
Work towards creating an extensive library of ûber-niche articles that use your established collection of target phrases. Here's a PDF to help you out.
#3 SEO TRUTH: LONGEVITY
Sites that have been online longer and updated consistently tend to rank higher than those just launched or rarely updated. Not because of age alone, but because the longer a site is around, they tend to have more info, authority, followers, and links if managed properly.
Use the test of time to create a consistently grown site with new features and an updated look when necessary. Technology will push ahead with or without you. Make a concentrated effort to keep up so that you are not left behind.
#4 SEO TRUTH: DEPENDENCE
You don't want to depend on organic search rankings as your sole venue for new visitor acquisition. While search engines should be part of your plan, they should not be any more than content, features, and social networking efforts.
You don't want to put all your eggs in the search engine basket. That is not a solid or pragmatic marketing methodology.
Unless you purchase search engine advertising, you can't “buy” your way into the top positions in the free/organic SERPs. So what is a website owner to do?
Work hard at continually making your site the best it can be within its competitive market for your target customer. If you take away anything from this article, it is those last 4 words.
#5 SEO TRUTH: TECHNICALITIES
Technical SEO is just as important as content and keywords. I won't get into the weeds on this topic in this article; however, technical SEO matters.
Things like the choice of web host, site structure/coding, HTTPS, mobile responsiveness, site performance/speed all contribute to your website rankings. For example, did you know that Google expects your site to display in less than 2 seconds?
Ongoing Consistent Efforts Rule the Day
Add articles, PDF downloads, a Blog, a directory, or even forums if these services will benefit your market. Then, share them on all your socials and engage.
Cater to your customers by determining what they want and give it to them. Then, strive to be the one-stop shop for your target market and take the time to get out there and network and participate.
By having this approach and doing your best to accommodate your market, you not only make your site visitors happy, but you give the search engines what they look at to rank you accordingly.
Even if you don't attain those top 2, or even top page rankings, you'll have something much more valuable—dedicated and loyal customers who will talk you up. Game on!
At your service,