Thinking about how to get top of Google for free, we need to start at the beginning with what most people see as the first step of getting onto the internet.
Building a website. Obviously, that's not exactly free... but, since it is a fundamental part of your marketing arsenal, you should already have that!
For many businesses, there are two things that happen after they have launched a website - neither of which will get you to the top of Google.
1. Hope Marketing
Most business owners use a tactic called Hope Marketing.
They work on the basis of 'If you Build It, They Will Come' but, unlike Kevin Costner and the Field of Dreams, Google is not such a rewarding mistress and it will require significant further effort on your part.
Putting up a website full of pretty pictures but with no relevant content or clues for Google as to what it is about and then just HOPING that:
- people will find you when they are searching for a solution to their problem;
- those visitors might agree that your product or service could be a solution to their problem; and
- they might trust you enough to become your customer
is not going to get you very far at all.
Over the last decade, I have met numerous business owners with beautiful websites that cost lots of money but which generate very few customers because no one actually knows the website exists.
You see, they're not showing on Google's First Page... or even the first five pages... but the business owner continue to hope!
And hopeful business owners who have no customers can be vulnerable to the persuasive sales talk of the passing SEO consultant, who will insist that, for a small monthly fee, he can get their website on the first page of Google without any effort from the business at all.
These are the people who put white words on white backgrounds so only the search engines can see them or get involved with link farms and spam comments - my personal pet peeve - or fake reviews. All of which contravene Google's terms and conditions and are more likely to get you kicked off the front page of Google and consigned to the sandbox beyond the tenth page... for a very long time.
2. Optimistic Optimising
And then there are the Optimistic Optimisers who throw hundreds of keywords into the meta data for each of their pages - either themselves or via their web designer. But then they don't actually do anything with the content on the page itself.
If there is no correlation in Google's eyes between what is in the meta data and what is on the webpage, that makes her distrust your site. And suspicion won't help her to put you to the top of her search results.
So if neither of these methods will get you to the top of Google, what can you do?
What is the Top of Google?
To ensure that we all understand the basic concept, I will explain – apologies if I’m teaching grandma to suck eggs with anyone but it’s important that everyone knows the basics.
The Top of Google is the first page of the results which that search engine has gathered in response to a specific search query. It contains what Google believes to be the 10 most relevant results to give you the answers you require. These pages are called SERPS – search engine results pages.
Why do I need to know how to get top of Google?
Well when you're doing a search on Google, do you go beyond page 1? Would you go further than page 2 to find the answer to your question?
Who Gets On The Front Page of Google?
Google Adwords - businesses can advertise at the top of any SERPS = paid.
Google My Business Maplisting - the top 3 that are either closest to where you are searching or which provide the best information for the search that you have made = free.
Organic listings - the website pages and posts that are the most relevant to the words that the searcher has typed into the search bar from websites that Google trusts to give the most up to date information and the best user experience = free.
Since we're talking about how to get to the top of Google for free, I won't go into detail about paying for Google AdWords.
Google My Business/Google Maps
Some years ago, Google realised that local people like to buy from businesses that are situated within five miles of their own location. So it started to give away FREE mini-websites to local businesses and displayed the top 7 best ones for any search.
More recently, this has become a 3-Pack which shows up most prominently on mobile phones. Now that almost everyone has a computer at the end of their arm these map listings are crucial. If you are a business that works with customers at your storefront or at their home, you should get yourself a Google My Business maplisting. This is the easiest way to get to the top of Google for free! For a local search for your product or service.
How do they decide whose maplisting will be chosen in the top 3?
Along with a large number of undisclosed factors, they look at the way you've filled out your entry. Make sure you complete all the sections carefully and fully. Categories, services, hours of business, locations covered, photographs, videos. You should be aiming to get the marker to 100% complete.
Proximity to the centroid – now just because you think you're in the middle of town doesn't mean that you will get position A. Google has some very strange ideas about where the centroid is for some areas.
Website – Google also looks at your website because it knows it can tell whether you are a trustworthy source – Content, Backlinks, Activity, age of domain that type of thing.
Reviews – if you can get happy customers to leave you a Google My Business review either from their PC or their mobile phone, it all counts towards your trust and reliability in Google's eyes.
Citations on Local Listing Directories like Thomson Local, Free Index, Hotfrog. If you've taken the trouble to enter your business in these free listings, it's a sign to Google that you're a business that actually exists and will provide relevant information for their local searches. Make sure the Name Address and Phone number are entered in exactly the same format as in your GMB Page. Encourage your customers to review you there as well as on your GMB map listing. This all helps to build authority in Google's eyes.
And the Domain Authority of these local listing sites can help to push your free entry onto the front page of Google for certain search terms.
As I said earlier, your Map listing is dependent upon the domain authority of your website so you need to work hard here. Great content that attracts your ideal customer to your site and is also published on social media to gain views. Plus backlinks built carefully in all the right places - local listing directories, press releases, complementary websites, forum and blog post comments, etc., etc.
It's not easy to get top of the organic listings and it will definitely cost you in time and effort. But it can be done for free with a carefully-thought-out plan... in certain niches. The more competitive the niche, the harder it will become to get onto the front page, let alone to the top.
YouTube and Video Marketing
People like video! YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Some people will search YouTube for the information they need rather than Google. For some search terms Google will display video in the organic listings. You should make sure that you use video as well as publishing word content on your website.
Google and Social Media
Social Media has been recognised by Google as the delivery system for great content. It's the driving force which directs traffic back to your website, which is why I always go on about social media optimsation and using all the tools that we have been given to promote our content and bring visitors onto the site - not the other way around.
But, from an SEO perspective, there's no doubt about it, Facebook has huge domain authority which means that Facebook Business Pages which have keywords in their URL and their descriptions can get onto the front page. It used to be the same for real-time Twitter. Tweets because they wanted to encourage current relevance.
LinkedIn Company Pages can also rank for Google searches for less competitive keywords so it's a really good idea to optimise these.
Most importantly, backlinks from all these social profiles give your website a great boost in Google's eyes.
How To Check That You Have Got To The Top of Google
Social Search - Personalised SERPs
"But I'm already on the front page of Google."
If you knew how often I've heard that said... and then I do the search from my computer and they're nowhere to be seen.
Today's browsers – Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera – they're all very clever. They want to provide you with what you want seamlessly. So, if you regularly look at a certain page in response to a particular search term, they remember that. They also take into account where you are and give you the most local results. So someone in Glasgow will see different results to someone in Birmingham – unless they have added a geo modifier to their search term – in Leigh on Sea.
So, the next time you make a search they will take all that into account and produce the pages that you like seeing – a personalised SERPs. That's often how your website can end up on the front page of Google for you... but not for me... or any other potential customer who does not know you exist.
What's The Best Way To Check Your Ranking On Google?
The best way to check your website's real position is to use a tool that excludes your previous preferences and your location.
Get an independent viewpoint for specific keywords and locations here.
More Free Opportunities for Front Page Listing
Images – if you've got images that represent your business, keyword them up and put them on your website, GMB page and local listings. There are also image sites like Flicka and Pinterest.
News – if you've got something newsworthy, shout about it with press releases and a page meta data title that says news
Books – if you've got a book to sell, make sure it's listed with Google Books
How to stay on the first page of Google
It’s no good thinking "Build It and they will come" and hoping for the best, you have to be proactive.
Consistently create content that helps Google to match searches to your answers.
Answer the questions that your ideal customers are asking.
Make your website an online resource for your industry.
Continally updating your website with great content to attract more visitors through search and then backlinks, backlinks, backlinks and, better still, authority backlinks.
These can be gained through related or complementary websites, blog comments, reviews, forums, bookmarking, online articles, press releases, local listing directories, industry specific directories, blog posts, social network profiles – they all count.
Your website becomes the central hub of an ever growing universe of approval showing Google that you are the most relevant source of information for a selection of specific keywords
SEO is an ongoing challenge, the more competitive the niche, the more work you have to do… and keep on doing... especially if you have SEO savvy competitors.
Keywords – Optimisation – Content - Sharing - Backlinks
It's how to get top of Google for free.
Click the link below to learn more about how to get more customers for your business... or if you want it to happen faster, book some time with me here