What Does It Take to Get on the 1st page on Google?

14 Minute Read
Written by: Branko Ilishev
May / 21 / 2021

If you are in the online business industry for some time now, you must know that traffic to your website can come from different places. It can be 

  • organic – directly from search engines
  • referral – from people clicking on a link leading to your website on another website, paid
  • from paid advertisements, social media, and email – your newsletter subscribers

If you have a marketing strategy, you probably have seen results from all of the above; however, you might not be aware of how things work out if you are new to the online industry world.

Either way, one thing is for sure – website visits don’t happen on the off chance. To increase the number of your visitors, you must have planned a strategy that will bring them to you instead of you chasing for leads. Let’s take a step back and see what the title of the text actually has to do with how you acquire your website visitors.

Most Important Website Traffic

Let’s clear this out in the very beginning – the most important website traffic is the organic traffic. The reason is simple and straightforward – it is very targeted. It works quite simply – the searchers use a query to search for the things they want to explore, know more of or buy. If you are able to provide them with an answer, you will gain a new follower, email subscriber, and ultimately a new customer. 

The organic traffic enables you to increase your website’s trustworthiness and establish yourself as a quality brand on the market. If we are to look at some data and stats about organic traffic, here is what we can notice:

  • 53% of website traffic comes from organic search
  • Over 99% of all searchers click on one of the links on the first page of Google.
  • Organic search drives over 10X more website traffic than organic social media.
  • The first result on the first page of Google has a 28.5% CTR (click-through rate), while the 10th result on the first page has a 2.5% CTR. 
  • Google owns 96% of all mobile searches and 92% of all desktop searches. 
  • A 3-second increase in “time on site” correlated with ranking one position higher.
  • The top-ranking website has an average of 3.8 times more backlinks than positions #2-#8
  • Rich results have a 58% CTR, compared to 41% for non-rich results

All of this info leads to one conclusion – it is of highest importance to have a great ranking position on the first page of Google. So, this brings us to the question: How to get on the first page of Google?

Google First Page Facts

Getting on the first page of Google is in no way easy. It used to be, in the past, when the internet was introduced to the global audience and widened its scope of usability to online businesses. When it enabled customer-business relationships to be established, Google was easy to be “manipulated” since many early SEO tactics gave excellent results due to the lack of competition. 

Even though this was just 20 years ago, today couldn’t be more different. None of the then-brilliant tactics work now, and to get to the first page on Google, not only your website needs to be fully functional, well-performing, providing superior user experience and responsive but also it needs to be better than its competitors – to provide better content and have stronger brand awareness. 

In the past, it was enough to perform on-page SEO activities: have excellent and relevant content, have enough text, the HTML tags needed to be accurate, and you needed to have internal links and outbound links. If you wanted to outrank a page that used the keyword 20 times, you needed to use it 40, and it would be enough.

Simpler times. 

Today, you can’t have your website optimized if it is not analyzed first. The SEO audit is the most important stepping stone in the battle for better rankings and getting to the desired first page of Google. Once the website, its content, and competitors are analyzed, the next step is to work out a strategy that will consist of the website transformation, improvement, and content optimization. Finally, a plan for acquiring ever-lasting results with an off-page strategy is continually deployed. 

The first page of Google is the ultimate stop for every online business out there. It is undeniably, the strongest ace in the sleeve of the owner of the online businessmen, and it is justifiably the type of organic traffic that will bring you closer and chosen by your ideal clientele. 

How to Get on the First Page of Google?

Okay, so we understood that it was much easier in the past, and today there is a ton to do to get on the first page in SERP. However, we must distinguish the efforts in three parts: 

  • How can new websites get on the 1st page?
  • How can old but NOT-optimized business websites get on the first page?
  • How can penalized websites or websites with bad SEO get on the first page?

Let’s elaborate.

How Can New Websites Get on the 1st Page?

With new websites, everything starts from scratch – making the process of getting to the first page much longer. Yes, it takes longer, but it is not impossible to land on the first page. To make the process as clear as possible, let’s go step by step.

Step 1: Get your website technically ready

Make sure your website is technically ready to get in the online fight for rankings. This includes: 

  • Fast website  

The website must load fast. Google considers under 0.5s as the ultimate speed for website loading in order for it to provide an awesome user experience. 

  • Visible to search engines

The website must be crawlable for the search engines. The Google crawlers follow the links on your site to understand what your content is about, so having a well-planned interlinking network will also help the cause. 

  • Use the Robot.txt file properly

A robots.txt file is a powerful tool that contains the code telling the search engine crawlers how your site works and what is important to be crawled. If you unintentionally block the site’s CSS and JS files in the robot.txt file, the search engines won’t be able to find out whether your site works the way it should. 

  • No duplicate content

Duplicate content is a huge no-no when it comes to trying to rank the site higher. If you have duplicate content on your site, you will confuse the search engines when deciding which page they need to rank for the particular content. Usually, in such cases, what happens is Google ranks all pages with duplicate content lower. 

  • Make it secure

Security is a key tech feature of a website, especially if you are working with online purchases. For starters, the website must be HTTPS as in this way; you can rest assured that no one can catch the data that is sent over between the browser and the site. Also, you will need an SSL certificate so you can make your site an HTTPS. There is an official statement by Google that HTTPS is a ranking signal, so, in case your website is brand new, make sure it is made secure. 

Step 2: Plan an SEO strategy that is based on long-tail keywords 

Going for the big, popular keywords with thousands and thousands of monthly searches is wrong – especially if your website is brand new. There is no way that you can rank for these keywords because they are already used in the optimization strategies of the big fish in the industry. It would be a fight like David and Goliath, with the exception that you won’t win at the end. 

Instead, going for long-tail keywords is the right thing to do. They are more descriptive phrases that yield an average of 36% conversion rate. Even though they won’t generate a lot of traffic individually, they will generate the wanted traffic when you use a set of them strategically. Also, it is good to know that 70% of the people searching online use long-tail keywords. 

To use the long-tail keywords, you need to work out a content strategy where you will publish fresh content every week. This content must be valuable, actionable, visual, and well-researched and have over 2000 words. Why? Because every piece of content ranking on the first page of Google is over 2000 words. So, you must catch up and be even better. 

Step 3: Start building an internal linking and backlinking network

Internal links in the content are of huge importance because the search engine crawlers follow the links to understand your website’s content. Plus, the bigger the number of backlinks is from the quality and authoritative sites, the bigger the Domain and URL ratings of the site’s pages will be. Domain rating and URL rating are important ranking factors as they represent the reliability and trustworthiness of the website. 

searching on google

How Can Old but NOT-optimized Websites Get on the First Page?

A guaranteed Google first page appearance is easier to achieve when the website is not brand new – when it has existed for some time now, even though it hasn’t been optimized at all in the past. If that is the case, here is what you need to do in order to get your website on Google’s first page.

Step 1: Check Your Search Console Data

If the site’s owner had set up the Search Console Data – that would be ideal since it will offer an insight into the organic traffic and keywords the site has been generating during its existence. Just follow the Google Search Console Tutorial and find out how to use the data. 

However, if there is no such data to take a look at, you need to use SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush. They will analyze your website and provide you with information about where your organic traffic comes from, whether you have organically obtained backlinks to any of your pages, which keywords you organically appear for, which pages are your top visited ones, etc. All the collected info will show you your current online position.

Step 2: Have your site audited

The next step is to have your website audited for all the potential problems preventing the website from ranking. Usually, website owners can note some existing problems themselves; for example, very often, we’ve come across a website owner who asks, “Why is my WordPress site so slow” without even realising that this might be one of the biggest obstacles to online visibility. The analyses cover the tech and content limitations of a website and, depending on the agency performing the analyses; you will receive suggestions and recommendations for fixing those problems. 

The website audit gives concrete reasons why a website performs poorly in the search engines, and its findings will serve as the bare ground on which the strategy for success will be planned and executed. 

Step 3: Understand your competition

Once the website has been audited, the next step is to pay special attention to its online competitors. Understanding the competition will help you understand why they rank on the highest positions on the first page and whether they do anything to keep their positions. The competitors on the first page taking the highest positions are 100% already doing SEO. A skilled SEO specialist will notice this in the shape of optimized titles and descriptions and implemented structured data for rich snippets, ranking, FAQ, etc. 

So, the next thing to do is think about how you can do better than your competitors. Study their content and produce better content, study their backlinks and start creating content that will be placed on high authoritative pages with high domain and URL ranking, study the keywords they have been using and make a plan whether these keywords can bring some of the traffic to you, or you’d have to use the long-tail strategy instead. 

Step 4: Don’t expect instant results

Yes, your website is not brand new, and there is probably some organic material you can hold on to; however, if the website must be thoroughly optimized first, and the off-page SEO should start from scratch, don’t expect to see results in a month or two. It takes time, but once Google catches up with the changes on your website and evaluates its content as worthy, your rankings will keep on coming. Hence, higher rankings = more organic traffic, more organic traffic will signal Google about your reliability, and you will eventually get on the first page of the search results. So, no asking how to get on the first page of Google prematurely. Be patient and wait.

How Can Penalized Websites / Websites with Bad SEO Get on the First Page?

And here is the most challenging moment for any SEO expert – having to work on a website that has been penalized, or even worse, banned by Google due to a past bad SEO strategy. If Google penalizes your website, it will be no longer visible for the searchers online, or your rankings for the targeted keywords will drop dramatically. This might happen if:

  • You add spyware, adware, or any viruses on the site
  • Hide links or text in the copy
  • Display a different version of a website to Google’s crawling robots
  • Do deceptive redirects
  • Fill the pages with irrelevant keywords or do keyword stuffing
  • Have lots of duplicate content

So, if Google had found such a problem with your website, it probably penalized the website. To reverse the situation, you must act to remove the penalty. It isn’t easy at all, as it is a process that takes time and energy. Here is how to approach the situation:

Types of Google Penalties

There are two types of Google penalties: manual and algorithmic. A Google employee gives the manual penalty. If they find out that your website performs against Google’s Terms of Service (the examples above), they will hand down a penalty to you manually. When that happens, you need to make an appeal to Google to reindex your website so searchers can find you again. 

The second type is the algorithmic penalty, an automated process that Google uses to rank higher value websites over others. Such automatic algorithmic penalties are Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird that penalize websites with thin or duplicate content, keyword-stuffed copy, not enough incoming links, and slow loading time. 

Step 1: Recover your rankings

First, you would need to find all backlinks of your website and analyze them to see whether some of them are the cause of your dropped rankings. If there are such, request the removal of the bad links and disavow them.

Step 2: Remove any duplicate content

Analyze your website to check for duplicate content carefully. Remove such content and produce new, unique, fresh content that will contain the targeted keywords without overusing them. 

Step 3: Have your website audited completely

Now, have a specialized Web and SEO team analyze the website thoroughly. Any remaining problems will be revealed and fixed, and your website will be ready to enter the online battle of rankings again. 

Step 4: Continue developing your SEO strategy

The work is not done if the penalty is cleared. The hard work now begins. To return the website’s reputation, strong, white hat SEO tactics and methods must be part of the optimization process. This includes on-page optimization and off-page strategy. 

In conclusion

Getting to the first page on Google is not easy. Reaching it and maintaining the high positions is even harder. However, it is not undoable, even if you have a brand new website, an old website without any past SEO efforts, or a penalized website. All it takes is the right Web and SEO team with expert skills, a tailor-made strategy, and time.

About the Author

Picture of Branko Ilishev

Branko Ilishev

Branko is your SEO prodigy. He manages the SEO team and finds creative solutions for your online visibility problems by thinking out-of-the-box. He also translates the collected data of analytics into understandable information that gives you concrete insights.