This past December I completed my 20th year as an online consultant. After all these years what has been consistent is wading through the myths and hype about how the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) work and explaining the truth about free "organic" search engine rankings.
After the launch of a new WordPress Website, one of the primary follow-up issues is the client wanting to know when they will be in the "top 10." Do we add a plugin? Where do I "SEO"? "How long until I'm on the top page?"
How Do I Get "Top 10" Search Engine Rankings?
Each time this conversation takes place, the person I am speaking with is clearly in shock and awe over the reality of what is required. The time and effort needed and the challenge to be embraced for any hope of getting top rankings becomes overwhelming.
You've heard that phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch?" Boy, does that apply to search rankings! While "free" listings don't cost you anything like PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising does -- they 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 tens of thousands, hundred of thousands or even millions of other sites fighting for the same spots -- you'd better become good friends with reality.
Search Engine Reality vs. Hype...
Before we continue; keep the following in mind. Now that there is even less available real estate "above the fold" for organic rankings due to even more ad blocks than ever -- being in the top 2 is pretty much what you need to attain if you want to be seen without scrolling.
Add to that thought, if hundreds of thousands of sites all want to pull on the top page for the very same terms you do, you have to do what is necessary to be perceived as the cream of the crop -- the top two! That's a tough hill to climb.
This doesn't happen by osmosis or just because you think your site is all that. Each site in your market probably desires those positions as much as you do -- but desire aside, what makes the difference?
Making the Right Choices and Taking Action!
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 this reality to assume that they can tweak this, do a little of that or throw some keywords here or there. Negating spending any time or money and believing the rankings will happen just because they want them to. That. Won't. Happen.
The Truth About Top Page Search Engine Rankings
Free search engine rankings on the top page, top 10, top 5, top 2 are very difficult to attain -- if ever. 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 to that question, you probably do not yet know what to do to produce that result.
Top rankings cannot be demanded -- they have to be earned! To think that you can state, "I want to be top 2 -- make it so" without realizing that as a site owner there are things you have to do and consider, consistently and for the long haul, is wishful thinking at best.
Each search site, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing all have their own proprietary algorithm that take hundreds factors into consideration 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 a the search criteria used.
That's your mission; to be the most relevant highest quality site for the terms you want to rank for.
Remember Websites and search engines are just computers talking to computers. The algorithms rely on the content of your site and the ability to detect your credibility and link status throughout the network from other quality "authority" sites.
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 4
tips truths in mind to start:
- ADD VALUABLE CONTENT: You must continually grow your site with relevant useful information of value to your site visitors that also is worth linking to. 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) -- that is a vote of confidence that you have a good site and information. Structuring your posts properly matters too -- read this.
Blogging, articles and a prudent use of social media tools can help you accomplish this task.
- LESS IS MORE: You simply cannot cover all your keyword phrases on your top page or on any one page within your site and expect to pull on the top page. The keyword stuffing days are over.
The more you are about; the less you are about any one thing. Search engines will rank the most relevant site/page/article related to the term searched for. You need to have detailed concentrated pages about individual topics to accomplish this.
Work towards having ûber-niche articles that use your established collection of target phrases. <-- That link has a PDF to help you out!
- 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, if managed properly, they tend to have more info, articles, followers, links.
Use the test of time to build and grow your site to use this interactive technology for all it's worth!
- DEPENDENCE: You don't want to depend on organic search rankings as your sole venue for new visitor acquisition. Search Engines should be part of your plan but not more than content, features and social networking efforts. You don't want all your eggs in the search engine basket!
You can't "buy" your way into the top positions in the free/organic SERPs. Unless you integrate the above efforts and have a long-term plan, you will most likely never enjoy top rankings.
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.
Market, Market, Market, Market
Add articles, white papers, a Blog, a directory or even forums if these services would benefit your market. Cater to your customers by determining what they want and give it to them! 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! Priceless.
At your service,