The importance of being number one in Google (and how to get there…)

Every business owner we have ever met aspires to rank number one on Google.  Of the huge variety of businesses and industries we have worked with over the years, this is the one thing guaranteed to unite them.  And of course, this is the case – they know, and we know, that 93% of all online buying decisions start with an online search.  The average person conducts 3-4 online searches every single day (and I know there are some of you reading who will go way over this average).  Make no mistake – your target audience is out there, cash in hand, actively looking for a product or service just like yours at this very moment.  And we get it, you want to be there, first in line, ready to speak to them.

It’s all about Google

Let’s just get one thing cleared up – yes, there are multiple search engines that people use on a day to day basis.  However, you won’t be surprised to hear that not one business owner has ever come to us saying “Get me to the top of Bing!” or “I really want to rank in”.  It’s always Google.  Google has a whopping 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide. According to SEO Tribunal, there were 5.8 billion searches every day on Google in 2018 – this works out as 63,000 searches per second.

So whilst we shouldn’t ignore these other search engines (and your web developer will still ensure your site map is submitted to the others), SEO strategy should predominantly be focussed on Google.

What is SEO, exactly?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and this is the art and science of working on your website’s ranking to move it closer to the top.  SEO should always include two elements:

  1. On-site SEO: This is all the work done on your website content to improve its appeal to Google.  It includes things like keyword optimisation, use of metadata, subject relevance and content building by, for example, writing blog posts.  The content building should always be focussed and driven by your SEO strategy, keywords and relevance.
  2. Off-site SEO: This is work done elsewhere on the internet, away from your website.  Ultimately, you want to accumulate links on other people’s websites back to your own (called ‘link building’).  In theory the more links you have the better, BUT you also need to ensure these are high-quality links from trusted and well-liked websites, which is measured by a ‘domain authority’ score.  There are websites out there that will sell you hundreds or thousands of link listings at a seemingly low price, however, invariably these sold links are on poor quality websites with rock-bottom domain authority and Google may penalise you for this. As well as link building, off-site SEO includes social signals (your presence across the social media channels) and local signals, which applies to all businesses with premises or local audience.

Organic vs paid rankings

There are two ways to get to the top of Google.  The first is organic SEO – this is the on-site and off-site work we have just described and this will gradually (organically) increase your rankings.  The second way to get to the top of Google is to pay for advertising.  This is called Pay Per Click, or PPC.  You decide which keywords you would like to rank for and Google will give you a price for that keyword, put you to the top of the page and then charge you every time someone clicks on your listing.  The price per click varies, but evidence suggests that across all industries, the average click cost is about £2.07.  As a rule of thumb the more popular the keyword, the more expensive it will be because more people are searching for this term, and it also varies across industries.

Monthly spend on PPC can build up to the hundreds (or even thousands) quite quickly, and you need to make sure you are making this money back in the sales it brings in, so this approach isn’t for everybody.  It can be part of a strategy alongside organic SEO, but we firmly believe that all businesses should also (or solely) be doing SEO.

Why all businesses should be doing SEO

Imagine you and all your competitors are at the starting line of a race.  Every time one of them updates their website or uploads a blog post, they take a step forward.  Every time someone else likes their content and links back to it, they take another step forward.  They get a great review on Google or Trustpilot – another step forward. Some of these businesses are taking hundreds of steps forward every month.  Meanwhile, you are doing nothing and getting left further and further behind.

This is how SEO works.  In the good old days of early Google, it was possible to hit the top spot by accident, or with almost no effort at all.  “Hurrah!” thought those lucky few.  The smart ones kept working on their content and kept their pole positions.  Others rested on their laurels and quickly got overtaken.  The days of ‘accidentally’ getting to the top of Google are long gone – when you do a Google search and see the person in the top spot they have got there by sheer and continuous hard work on SEO.

And all the evidence suggests that the effort is worthwhile.  If you work on your organic SEO, not only will you edge yourself ahead of the competition organically but it will get you more traffic and a higher quality of leads as people inherently trust Google, and those that are at the top of Google are also trusted.  It is also ‘free’ – you will need to spend time on your content writing etc and may choose to pay a specialist to do some/all of the SEO work for you, but you can benefit from an unlimited number of free clicks through to your website without having to foot the PPC bill.

How much SEO should I be doing?

SEO isn’t something you only do once, it is a long-term strategy.  A solid SEO strategy will mean you doing small amounts of regular SEO work on an ongoing basis.  The amount you need to do will depend on what your industry is, what keywords you want to rank for and how much work your competitors are doing.  But you need to be doing something, regularly.  The results of a well-implemented strategy will mean your rankings will increase as time goes on and if Google picks up and rates one of your pages highly this can yield results for months, or even years.

Can I do this myself or do I need an SEO-specialist?

There is regular SEO work that you can do yourself.  You can update your website content, write blog posts, promote your business on social and build backlinks.  All of these are great practices.  However, Google ultimately decides how highly to rank each of your pages for specific search terms.  It is believed by industry experts that Google uses over 200 different factors when deciding how to rank your website and pages.  An SEO-specialist will be able to do a thorough analysis of both your website and your competitors’ websites, tell you your domain authority score (and your competitors) and help you come up with a much more focussed strategy.  This will let you know what type of content you should be producing, how much of it, what keywords you should be using, how many mentions they need, what your social strategy should look like and how you should be building backlinks.  This more focussed strategy will stand a better chance of success.  An SEO-specialist will also be able to provide you with monthly reports which closely analyse your progress and that of your competitors so that you can use this evidence to constantly adjust and improve your strategy.

How to create an effective ‘About’ page

For almost all the websites we review, we end up recommending a re-write of the ‘About Us’ page.  Your ‘About’ page is a massive opportunity to connect with potential customers and to convert them online, but this opportunity is so often wasted.  This blog explores why people get it wrong so often and what you can do in less than 30 minutes to massively improve your ‘about’ page.

The ‘about’ page – are you getting it wrong?

When we ask our customers for their website content, the content for the ‘about’ page is often difficult for them to write.  Some companies find it quite awkward knowing what to say and often revert to a humble back story about how the company started, worried about being too pushy about their plus points incase they drive people away.  Others can provide chapter and verse on their company and want to present really long paragraphs about their company and product – but readers struggle to relate and will often give up a few lines in.

Why it’s so important to get it right

We know from analytics that your ‘about’ page is likely to be the second most visited page on your website, after your ‘home’ page.  This means that many visitors will have found your ‘home’ page, they haven’t immediately left (that’s a good start!) and have clicked through to find out a little bit more about how you might fit with their needs.  If the content they find on your ‘about’ page is not compelling, then it has the potential to become your highest exit page.  

So, here is the crucial point – your ‘about’ page is not about you. Your page is about how you are the perfect fit for them, the customer.  It should make customers feel as though they have found exactly what they want to meet their needs and they don’t need to do any more googling – you are the one for them.  So how do you write an ‘about us’ that isn’t about you?

How to upgrade your page in 30 minutes or less

The content of your ‘about’ page is ultimately about achieving the “know, like and trust” factor.  After reading it you want your potential customer to transform from vaguely interested into someone who feels like they know you, like you, and trust you enough to take the next step – for some companies, this will be making an online purchase but for most it will be clicking on further links, following you on social, subscribing to your email list, contacting you or making an enquiry with you.

We believe that everyone can dramatically upgrade their ‘about’ page in 30 minutes or less, either by tweaking what is already there or by completely re-writing it.  Here are our top 7 tips to make your ‘about’ page a winning converter for you:

  1. Know, like and trust – Tell customers your story and how your journey and experience has made you the best at what you do.  Forget industry jargon here – go for a conversational tone and use emotional words to help connect with the visitor.
  2. Talk about the customer, not yourself. Keeping the content customer focused will help keep their attention for longer because it will be more relevant for them.  So rather than saying “we are a great team and we love making these fantastic products they are so great!” try turning the same comment over into how much it will benefit the customer, such as “our passion for designing products that exactly solve [this problem] means we are the only company that exactly meet our customer’s needs.  As a result, 90% of our business now comes from word of mouth and repeat business”
  3. Solve their problem – Make sure your ‘about’ page really clearly solves the customer’s problem.  What is it about your business that people like the most about you?  Do you make the longest-lasting boots or the most elaborate cakes?  Do you offer the best personal service?  Maybe you have the fastest turnaround times and never let anyone down?  Whatever your best features are as a company, show them off!  If you’re not sure what your customers value most, why not ask them?  Feedback from customers or even employees may just surprise you!
  4. Have a ‘Call to Action’ – If you’ve captured people’s attention with your winning copy, it is so important to channel people’s attention into the next step you want them to take.  Include links or buttons (known as a ‘call to action’ or CTA) which shows them where to go next.  This could take a variety of forms depending on what your business is.  You may wish to direct them to an online store or another area of the website or you may want them to contact you via an online form or social media.
  5. Prioritise the content above the fold – When people browse the web, their attention span is astonishingly short.  You only have 2-3 seconds to capture people’s attention before they have decided whether to carry on reading or click away. Make sure the most important information is above the fold, i.e. on the portion of the page that is viewable when it first loads.  Don’t hide your most important information a few scrolls down the page.
  6. Include multimedia – Create interest by including a variety of different media on your page.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a headshot (although high-quality pictures of the face behind the business can really help with the ‘know, like and trust’ factor) it can be pictures of your team, your premises or your best products.  Videos are fantastic converters for some businesses, or it may be that infographics or graphic design will work for you.
  7. Let your customers sell you – Other people’s recommendations of a company are hugely beneficial for building trust.  Include at least one (and preferably more) testimonials, comments and reviews from your previous customers so that people can see how well-liked your business is.  It will reassure them that they are looking at an established and well-respected business, which may just tip them over the edge and make them want to take action with you!

And don’t just leave it there…

Once you have re-vamped your ‘about page and got it completely focussed on wooing your customers, we strongly recommend you monitor how it’s doing so that you can keep polishing it in the future.  Talk to your web support team who will be able to perform page testing and monitor it for traffic volumes, heat map testing, bounce rates, visit duration and conversion rates so you can see exactly what parts of this page work well for you and which need updating.