We all know the first page of Google search results is the holy grail for any webmaster, but how do you actually get there?
Organic SEO is a good starting point, but there are other options too, so here’s a near-comprehensive rundown:
Organic SEO is about placing good-quality content on your website with your target search terms in prominent positions; this acts as a signpost to Google to associate your site with those terms.
You can also improve your ranking by updating your site more frequently, and by having more websites linking to yours – but don’t be tempted to ‘buy links’ by paying people to link to you, as this is a big no-no with Google nowadays.
Sponsored listings (also known as pay-per-click ads) are those that appear at the top and bottom of the search results, with an orange ‘Ad’ icon.
On very competitive search terms, this is a good shortcut to the front page – just be sure you only pay a sensible amount to appear there.
News results appear on the first page of most searches now too, but it can be very difficult to be included in Google’s database of news sources without expert assistance.
Images and video results are worth targeting if you’re in a relevant industry or if Google regularly displays them for your primary keywords.
Make sure to use all of the available metadata to make your multimedia content more visible to Google – captions, ‘alt’ text and ‘title’ text all helps to associate graphics with your target words or phrases.
And finally, it’s worth looking at microformats if your content is in a specific format, for example, a recipe or review, as the search engines in general are steadily adopting these more and more into their results pages.
Combine multiple techniques where possible and make sure you’re doing more than your main rivals, and a front-page ranking is only a matter of time in most sectors, even in the face of a medium level of competition.