This is the Golden Question. The truth is, there are no secret answers that will get you on the first page of Google. All you can do is play by Google’s rules and apply their guidelines for SEO practices.
We recently updated this article to point out best SEO practices in 2018. Google’s algorithm is ever changing and so should be your SEO efforts.
The top 8 ways to get on the first page of Google in 2018 are:
1. Good, high quality, relevant content on your website.
It’s safe to say that, in 2018, the content counts for 90% of Search Engine Optimization. The more relevant and unique your content is to your focus keyword, the more powerful the page ranking will be which will inevitably fast-track your progress to a first-page website Google ranking, and even Yahoo and Bing.
Putting in hard work to create the original, interesting content will definitely pay off. It is well known that Google penalizes websites with duplicate content with lower ranking. You can check if your website has been copied here. Moreover, the longer the visitors stay on your website, the higher it ranks. Did you know that on average, top 10 search results have a dwell time (how long a visitor from Google search stay on your page) of 3 min 10 sec? You can bet that people keep looking at the website because they like the content!
In 2015, Google started penalizing websites that were not mobile responsive. Mobile responsive means that the website was programmed in a way that will automatically adjust it’s content dimensions to fit nicely into the width of the device (iPhone, iPad, laptop etc.). Since then, the definition of ‘mobile-friendly’ kept expanding, as smartphones became the main window to the World Wide Web. Quick heads up – in a very near future, Google will switch to ‘mobile-first index’ – that means, they will primarily crawl and assess the mobile version of the website, rather than current desktop one. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on your website’s mobile version. For example, if the first thing your visitors see when pulling up your website on their phones is a big pop-up covering the content and making it difficult to access, Google will rank that website lower than it would otherwise. Not to mention many annoyed users will simply move on to another website. Make sure your website is not only resizing for different monitors, but that it also looks good on all of them. You can check if your website is mobile friendly using Google’s Search Console tool.
3. Use relevant, informative page titles and meta descriptions.
Google’s robots will index each page and if the titles and descriptions aren’t relevant to the content of the page or don’t meet the user’s expectations, the page ranking won’t do well at all. Your potential visitors might be simply not able to find you because they don’t see a relevant keyword in the page title. When you use Google search, title and meta description is the only information you see about the websites Google found for you. Make sure that first impression counts. Optimal title length is 70 characters, and your meta description should be about 160 characters long, to make sure all that content is displaying in the browser window. Wordpress offers great SEO plugins, such as Yoast, that can help you manage titles and descriptions easily.
4. Provide a good user experience.
Google’s indexing robots have figured out how to judge the user experience of a website. They use factors like your bounce rate, click-through rate, and the time visitors spend on the website to grade the user experience. Content plays a big role in this equation, and businesses around the world try innovative design solutions to keep people engaged with their websites (like using scroll animations, games, suggesting which page to visit next). From the initial landing page flow, to call to actions and subpage content, it puts it all together and gives an overall score the heavily impact your website’s ability to get a first-page website Google ranking.
5. Have relevant authoritative external URLs link to your website (backlinks).
Once upon a time, Google would reward a website for a backlink (external URL linking to your website) even if it was irrelevant. Now, though, Google is all about providing a relative user experience to their valued search engine users. Try listing your website on directory listings like Yelp and Google My Business – two examples of powerful relevant backlinking. Read more about what backlinking is here. Getting backlinks is crucial to ranking on the first page of Google, and is guaranteed to bring more traffic to your website. If you’re wondering how to get backlinks, let me refer you to the number 1 on this list – create awesome content. If you want to learn how to get other high-quality backlinks, we recommend this article.
6. Add structured data.
You probably noticed that when searching for a recipe on Google, the links found at the top of the ranking have a thumbnail picture next to it, along with some basic information like star rating or calorie count per serving. These extras are bits of structured data, created by using Schema markup. What you might not know is that by using such links, your website can get a 30% click through boost. By using structured data, you also help Google read your website faster and categorize your content properly. Here’s a useful tutorial on Structured Data and SEO.
7. Focus on your website performance.
Good user experiences require a fast loading website. As we know already, user experience is a crucial factor in Google ranking. We covered optimizing a Wordpress website performance here.
8. Optimize for voice search.
Even though it’s a fairly new technology, increasingly, more people use voice search to find relevant information online. The way we talk to Siri or Alexa is different than what we would type on the keyboard, and you need to keep it in mind if you want to jump up to the first page of Google ranking. Use the sentences like you would in a conversation with another human being. Utilize structured data to be found easily. Here’s a great tutorial on adding Schema markup to your Wordpress site.