75% of Internet searchers never scroll beyond the first page of Google search results. Or—to say it another way—if your website never finds its way to the first page, 75% of buyers will never discover your brand through organic search. Considering that over 40% of revenue is captured by organic traffic, there is a lot to lose by landing on page 2 or beyond .
Hopefully, you or someone on your team is overseeing some sort of SEO strategy to help your business rise through the rankings, increase visibility, and see more growth. But even if you are, you may be feeling like the results aren’t coming as quickly as you expected. Many entrepreneurs know this disappointment well.
Why is it taking so long? Are you doing something wrong? How can you rank higher faster?
These answers can get tremendously complicated . . . so much so that we recommend consulting an SEO agency if you haven’t already. But in the meantime, here are some basic answers to help you understand the hows and whys of organic search rankings.
The Reality of Ranking on Page One
First, some real talk.
Your latest blog post or brand new product page are unlikely to show up on Page One tomorrow.
It likely won’t happen next week, either.
On average in a best-case scenario, you should expect at least 3-6 months for a quality, search engine optimized page to show real progress in the search engine result pages (SERPs). That’s with stellar SEO efforts and excellent content.
The harder truth is that only 5.7% of newly published pages make it to the top ten within a year. In fact, the average age of a Top10 ranking page is 2 years.
A solid organic search ranking takes time. You can make some strategic moves to speed up the process (more on that in a moment), but it’s a good idea to go into SEO with reasonable expectations. When it comes to Google rankings, remember that you’re playing the long game here. If you can ascend quickly, even better. But don’t panic if you don’t see instant results after all that keyword research. It’s going to take a little time.
How Google Ranks Your Page
A lot of factors determine your Google ranking, and once you understand them, you can see why a high ranking isn’t something you can achieve overnight.
Before your page can rank at all, it has to be indexed by Google.. This means that Google sends their Google bot to crawl your pages, collect information about them, and then add your pages to Google’s index. Only pages in the index have a shot at showing up in Google search results.
Google’s search algorithm is engineered to deliver the most useful results to Internet searchers. They aren’t just looking for keyword density; they’re processing more than 250 ranking factors that help them weigh the credibility, relevance, and informational value of your page. This is why boosting your visibility in the SERPs is a process. It takes time to build backlinks, optimize your pages for user experience, and create the kind of content diversity that indicates valuable information.
Plus, Google favors older pages. Of course, we’re not talking decades here. But if your domain is less than six months old, the bots still consider it less reliable. So, if you have a brand new site designed with a killer SEO strategy, hang in there. You may see a jump in your ranking after six months.
A few other considerations Google uses to determine rankings include:
Delivering Quality Digital Content
Google loves a good, long post (1,000 – 3,00 words is great), but the bots are also smart enough to recognize when a page is loaded with rambling nonsense just to get the ranking. Short paragraphs, simple sentences, and a good length—that’s what you’re shooting for. You also want to include video, images, and infographics. Google recognizes multimedia sites as especially informative and meaningful to users.
You definitely want to populate your website with a lot of evergreen content, but try to include fresh topics linked to current events and new trends. Google champions timely content.
Quality Backlinks Pointed At Your Site
Some businesses try to cheat the system with sneaky maneuvers like fraudulent backlinks or less sneaky strategies like keyword stuffing. Google doesn’t like that. If your domain gets flagged for those behaviors, you’ll be penalized by being excluded from the search results altogether. So play fair.
Backlinks are links on other web pages that direct users to your page. Google gives a lot of weight to these reference links because they help establish your domain as a respected, informative site. Backlinks are especially valuable to you when they come from sites Google also recognizes as credible.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should give you some insight as to why a page-one ranking takes time. Not only do the bots give more credibility to a site that’s older than six months, but you also need time to generate quality content and inspire backlinking. Your site is essentially building a reputation among the bots. And as we all know, solid reputations take time.
SEO Strategies to Improve Your Rank
Keyword-related search engine optimization is the first thing people think of when you bring up Google rankings. Most people know it’s important to use the correct keywords enough times and to be deliberate in selecting titles, headings, ALT image text, and meta descriptions. While total search engine optimization is far more complex now that the bots are increasingly nuanced, these elements remain incredibly important for helping Google identify how well your content matches a search query.
Of course, with a few strategic moves, you can give your rep a nudge. Here are a few ways to ensure some fast forward momentum.
Content, content, content. Keep cranking it out. Bots love a well-populated site, and they love a site that makes use of images and video, as well as written content. Just remember that quality is key . . . in more ways than one. Your content has to be quality in order to score with the bots. It has to be quality in order for users to click and stick around. And only truly excellent content will score you those coveted backlinks.
Long-Tail Keyword Research
Keyword optimization can be a major headache when you’re first trying to establish an online presence. You may have the instinct to zero in on basic keywords that get a ton of searches. There are two major problems with that.
The first is that these simple keywords are often vague, and the searcher’s intent may not line up with what you have to offer. The other problem is that keywords that have a high search volume are often highly competitive as well. You may have some amazing “high-waisted jeans” to sell, but with a keyword that simple, you’re going to be up against several major brands who will rank higher and shove you back a few pages.
Long-tail keywords tend to have a lower search volume, but they have greater specificity and give you a better chance of ranking. Not to mention, long-tail keywords are often likelier to convert since you can do a better job of matching the searcher’s intent. A search for “therapist” could mean anything—a person looking for physical therapy, a person who wants to be a psychotherapist, or even a person who just isn’t clear on what a therapist does. However, the intent behind “Sliding scale marriage therapist in Birmingham” is crystal clear. Optimizing for a long-tail keyword like that cuts down on competition, increases your odds of ranking high, and helps you get your page in front of people who are looking for the exact thing you’re offering.
Paid Ads that Match Intent
On that note, you can actually use paid advertising to improve your organic rankings as well. Again, it all comes down to the intent behind the query. Generally speaking, if someone Googles “blender vs. food processor,” the PPC ads that appear at the top of the page will likely lead to product pages for either a blender or a food processor. However, if your ad clearly links to a comparison article that addresses the searcher’s intent, you’re likelier to get the click. The click leads to more traffic, more credibility, and ultimately more clout with the Google bots.
Now, these are just some basic tips to get you started. There are countless strategies you can use to get Google on your side. You can’t make it happen this afternoon. But with dedication, patience, and some expert insight, you can accelerate the process.
If there’s anything our SEO experts can do to help, our doors are always open. Contact us here for a free consultation.