As an SEO copywriter, I’ve worked with countless businesses. Whether they’ve been in their industry for 10 years, or are just barely getting started, I am often asked one particularly interesting question. “How do I get on the first page of Google?”

If I’m honest with you, that question makes me cringe because it’s just not that easy and unfortunately there’s not one answer! And the worst part is — I know why you’re asking that question! You want to book more clients and be able to spend a little less time on social media because SEO is doing what it should.

The real question

The real question should be, how do I help the right people on Google find my website, and then how do I get them to actually book? After all, being #1 on Google doesn’t mean that you’ll be booking every single client that visits your websites. It’s really about getting targeted traffic to your website as opposed to just trying to get every person on Google to visit your website (that won’t happen, by the way, unless you’re actually Google).

The reality of becoming #1

You’re a small business. And you’re not the only wedding photographer in Phoenix, or the only web designer in LA. This means that you and a bunch of other entrepreneurs are probably trying really hard to be the first page that shows up.

While I wish there was a shortcut, there’s not! (And the shortcuts that do exist will get you punished by Google in the long run. Yes, they penalize websites that try to cheat with things like keyword stuffing.)

I want you to do one thing real quick. Google that phrase you want to rank for. Skip the adds and grab the url of the first small business website that shows up. Then, type their url into Google but with a site: in front of it. (See what I typed in to my search bar in this screenshot below.)

This wedding photographer ranks pretty high for her search phrase. But take a look at the search results number. Her website has 344 pages of content. I essentially just asked Google to look up pages that exist only on her website and now it’s showing me every search-engine-public page on there. 344 of them.

Now, do the same thing with your website URL. How many pages pull up?

I’m not saying that more pages = more traffic = becoming number one, BUT you do need to have a little more content online if you ever want to be found.

Your website pages are real estate

The more pages your website has (blog posts, service pages, location pages, etc.), the more real estate you own on Google. This is a good thing if those pages contain high quality, unique information that is optimized for the web.

Every blog post you put out there is another door into your website. And if that blog post does well and starts to rank, it actually sends a little message back to Google that perhaps your home page rankings could be higher too. Win win!

If you’re thinking to yourself that you have a lot of blog posts to write, this is pretty accurate. But you can do more than just write!

Ways to boost your search engine rankings

  1. Check your website’s load time (with a tool like this!) Site’s that don’t load fast enough will have a hard time ranking. Your images may be too large so go and fix them and any other errors this tool shows you.
  2. Include at least 300 words per page. If your home page is guilty of containing images and a few links without any words at all, that’s an issue. Some clients actually like to read about you before they actually inquire with you, and Google realizes the importance of this as well. Pages with less than 300 words per page will also have a hard time ranking, even if you have a Mona Lisa of a home page.
  3. Create an easy-to-use interface. Don’t hide that menu bar and use straightforward labels like about and services, not “meet” and “details.”
  4. Add call to action buttons. Take users from page to page, creating a network within your website. This improves the experience and helps with SEO too!
  5. Build a Google Business Profile, an absolutely free platform which makes it easy for clients to find you! This is how you Google your local Italian restaurants and find them on the map, and it works for businesses like yours that may not have an actual address.
  6. Ask happy clients to leave reviews on your Google business profile. Credibility is a thing and it’s one of the things that impacts your website!

But, how do I get to the first page on Google?

You either need to start learning more about SEO or hire someone who knows more than you do. Ranking on page 1 is a beautiful combination of so many different factors and they’re always changing too. That’s why I can’t sit here and give you a step-by-step plan. Even on my own website, I track my rankings and when they drop, I’ll go back to an old page that I forgot about to see why it doesn’t compete any more. (Updating content is great for rankings too.)

If I have one piece of advice, though, it’s this — don’t expect to rank on page 1 of Google if your website doesn’t somehow look better or have better information than your competitors. After all, it’s your website that will or won’t be ranking, so make sure that’s in working condition before you spend all of this time, effort and money trying to get it to page 1.

Is it worth it, and where do I begin?

If you have a proven business plan with happy customers, and you know you can easily grow if you only had some more clients, then yes, it’s worth it! Almost 1/4 of my projects come from Google and that’s without blogging every week or even every month.

I would start by auditing your website. Plug it into a tool like Ubersuggest and see what it tells you. If you can, try to fix some of the issues on your own. From there, get that Google profile active and start blogging. (Snag my blog ideas for photographers.)

If you want to outsource SEO, Fuel Your Photos has a great resource on the topic. As an SEO copywriter, I combine research and strategy with actual content creation to get you the home page content, blog posts, etc. that you need to show up on Google. In my experience, this is where the SEO juice really kicks in.

How do I get on the first page of Google? Wrong question.

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