Everyone wants to be on the first page of Google. Anything beyond page one is filled with noise, constant (normal) ranking fluctuations, and the anxiety of wondering what to change next. So close, but yet so far, right?
Like everything in life, there are no guarantees with Google. However, we put together a few quick tips around some of the most common issues that prevent a website or page from getting more visibility. The right recipe involves innovation, deep analysis, and creative engineering.
If you’re stuck on page two and scratching your head wondering why, it’s time to take a hard look at the following list and ensure you’re meeting each criteria to break through your ranking plateau.
1. Create Compelling and Comprehensive Content
Create great content and the rest will take care of itself, right? Wrong. Compelling content does, however, lay the foundation for a superior search result.
As always, make sure you look at your competition. Take a minute to explore what the rest of the results look like for the search queries you are trying to rank for. If Google is favoring a concise answer or a particular piece of content, don’t write 5,000 words of irrelevant fluff. If Google is favoring a comprehensive answer, now is the time to cover the topic and all of its related information in a unique way.
Compelling content doesn’t take one day to complete, it takes hours and hours of research and exhaustive refinement, regardless of length. It also needs to be revisited and updated as necessary.
Write full comprehensive coverage of a topic that satisfies your primary query and relevant/related queries/questions for the audience. Get unbiased reviews and step back, thinking what you would want to see if you typed in that search query.
Always remember: quality over quantity. Do not focus your efforts on subpar content, as lower bounce rates/higher dwell time tend to correlate with higher rankings. Just because your page has 2,500 words of unique content doesn’t mean it’s great content. I’ll say it as plainly as possible: word count does not equate to quality.
2. Build A Diverse and Authoritative Backlink Profile
Research and analyze the backlink profiles of the top 10-20 results for your desired query or queries. Take note of the number of links, what types of links they are, the page authority ranges, anchor text ratios (exact, broad, other), and whether the placements can be reverse engineered.
Backlinks are still a powerful ranking signal within Google’s algorithm, especially at the individual page level. Quality over quantity wins the game here as well, so focus on encouraging editorially-earned backlinks from a diverse set of unique, authoritative websites.
Building high-quality backlinks in 2017 have become increasingly difficult, but without them, cracking page one in a competitive vertical is near impossible unless you’re relying mostly on overall domain authority. But not all of us can be Amazon.
3. Update Your Website Architecture
If you want a certain page to rank for a diverse set of related niche keywords, it needs a piece of cornerstone content. An orphaned page, or one that is hard to find on your website, is not going to get the job done.
Where applicable, include your target page in main navigational menus and create a holistic and well-thought-out internal linking strategy. Both strategies will allow for the most authority to flow to your page and lead to the page being crawled more often.
Poor example: https://www.mysite.com/products/product-1/?p=2837
Good example: https://www.mysite.com/mens-clothing/sweatpants/joggers
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to navigate to a page in 3 clicks or less. For a good user experience and positive search signals, clean, keyword-focused permalinks are your friend. If you decide to update or change a URL, make sure you 301 the old to the new to preserve authority.
4. Optimize Your Target Pages
Make sure you have properly optimized H1/H2/H3 titles, opening search intent paragraph or paragraphs, and alt image tags. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks if everything else checks out. Here’s a good, basic guide you can check out.
After making changes, resubmit your URL to Google either through Search Console or by Googling ‘submit my site to google’ and filling out the form in the SERPs below.
A good starting point for on-page optimization is to research the first page of Google for your search query. What is Google is favoring amongst those results? Look for patterns you can mimic and see how you can improve on it further.
5. Add Authoritative Outbound Links
Both websites and individual pages that link out to relevant, authoritative sources tend to rank higher than those who do not. It’s ill-advised to follow outdated advice by adding a nofollow tag to all outbound links in an attempt to preserve your website’s internal authority. Plus, you should give credit where credit is due.
Cite industry experts, back up claims and statistics, and communicate relevancy to search engines through good outbound linking practices. Do, however, add the nofollow tag to paid or sponsored links, and websites you may not trust. Not doing so could result in an unnatural outbound link penalty.
6. Optimize for Mobile and Page Speed
With Google’s mobile first index on the horizon, you can’t put off having a mobile-friendly website any longer. If your website isn’t responsive, forget about it — you’re going to get left behind and continue losing visibility.
Google’s John Mueller recently urged webmasters who still have m.site.com mobile subdomains to make the switch before the index goes live.
When visiting a website, users like yourself want instant loading, updated answers to queries, and content that is easy to see, navigate and digest. Major websites are already making the switch to Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, which is proving to be fruitful for key website metrics and conversions as mobile search continues to grow exponentially.
Test your website’s mobile speed on think with Google.
See more PageSpeed Insights from Google.
7. Build Brand Awareness
Is your brand, product, or service well-known? Generating some immediate buzz will help with engagement metrics and could even lead to purchases and organic social signals and links.
Consider launching an influencer marketing campaign or marrying some Pay Per Click (PPC) with SEO to bring more awareness to your page from different mediums. Once you’re on the first page of Google, PPC will also provide more first-page real estate by effectively capturing two positions.
Another great option is to run a paid campaign on Facebook. This will introduce your page to a hyper-targeted group of people that should be interested in your product or service if you target them correctly.
It can be downright frustrating when you feel like you’re stuck on page two. If you’ve done everything at the on-page level correctly, it’s definitely time to take a look at your backlink profile and fill in any glaring gaps that exist between you and your search competitors.
Remember, quality and consistency wins the race; don’t take short cuts that could harm you in the long run in the rush for short term results.
Continue building awareness and engaging with your target audience. Check rankings once per week or month, instead of daily to paint a more accurate long-term trend picture. Celebrate the small wins along the way and keep pushing for that coveted page one.