How do I get to the top of page one in Google?

Matt Brown of One Vision Ltd

I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked this question over the last 18 years or so. A top placing in Google is seen as essential for many business websites, and with good reason. There is a lot of data from research which suggests that the top 3 positions on a Google search results page account for between 60% and 80% of the clicks, with the top position taking anywhere between 25% and 35% of the clicks, up to 3 times as many clicks as position 2. And what about the difference between Pay-Per-Click (PPC) paid adverts and the organic listings? How does that affect the number of clicks that can be expected? The simple answer is: it depends.

My own view is that the statistics don't really matter that much. The crucial elements for a website owner or marketer are relevance to searches made and the intent behind them. When a search engine user is performing a search, the most important factor to them is finding the closest result to the intent behind their search. The closest results may be in the organic listings, the paid adverts, both or none. In which case they may try to modify their search.

So back to the question of how to get a top placing in Google. A website marketer has two main options: natural organic listings or PPC paid adverts. The reality is that it takes a great deal of effort to get both working effectively and to keep them working. Ideally both strategies will be used. Running a PPC campaign will not influence the natural organic ranking of a website but having both working well increases the chance of a click and reduces a spot for a potential competitor at the same time.

What decides the position of a PPC advert, or a natural listing, is highly complex and really only known to Google. A PPC advert's position is decided in an auction and relevance to the keyword that triggered the display of the advert is a key factor that decides its position.

A guaranteed number 1 position cannot be given by anybody and any search marketer who tells you they can guarantee this is not being realistic. Even with PPC, a number one position cannot be guaranteed, but you do have a good chance of controlling a top position with a properly structured PPC campaign.

Top organic listings are achieved through a well-structured website that has clean and properly marked up website code, and that offers authentic quality content aimed at the web visitor, not a search engine!

And it has never been any different. People think they can cheat the search engines somehow by inserting keywords with sufficient frequency, or having lots of links to their website. It's all rubbish. Instead of trying to cheat the system, work with a system that rewards websites which focus on the quality of user experience for their customer.

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