Do you need to be on the top of Google?
I’ve had many clients over the years in the North East, express a wish to be at the top of Google. And why not? 37.9% of all clicks for a particular search term are indeed on position one (under the ads). 18.4% goes to position two, and by the time you get to the very top of page two, you are only benefiting from 1.86% of user clicks.
As impressive as those stats are, the desire to reap the inherent rewards from being at the top of Google doesn’t (on it’s own) quantify your need to be there.
Before you embark upon the journey to the top, PLEASE take a long hard look at your business. There are many ‘fly by night’ SEO companies that will insist that you need to be there and will throw very generalized stats at you so you will open your wallet and hand over your hard earned cash.
Reason 1 not to be at the top of Google.
Consider who your customers are. Some businesses’ entire income stream comes from one or two companies and those contacts are garnered in another way (perhaps as part of a tender process). One of my clients, for example, runs a company based in Newcastle upon Tyne that makes and installs the Christmas decorations that you see in many of the shopping centres around the festive period.
He needs a website to demonstrate his wares but when his prospective clients look at his site it is because he has reached out to them personally, and they type his company name directly into Google.
If you type a specific company name into Google, the chances are you will rank on the first page (unless of course your company name is made up of highly sought after keywords). If you only want interest from one or two specific people, you can simply give them your web address.
Reason 2 not to be at the top of Google
What is your business capacity?
By this, I mean: How many customers can you serve and still maintain the high standards from which your reputation is secured?
If the 37.9% (position 1) of web visitors relates to say 1,000 potential clients per month and you only ever want four clients per month (as is the case for one of my clients in Durham), and those same clients are likely to use your service, perhaps for years then you have to ask yourself, what are you gaining by disappointing hundreds of potential clients with a service you will never be able to satisfy?
In reality a business like this will never rank number one for long anyway (if at all) Google rewards successfully performing businesses with a higher ranking. If people stop interacting with your site because you can’t service the users demand, then they will demote you.
Google has an Agenda
So many business owners forget that Google is a business and to maintain their position as the nations most used and favoured search engine they need to make sure that when a user types in a query, then they don’t have long to wait or have far to look to find the information that they are looking for.
As a result Google constantly improve their algorithms and rank sites based on many factors (which we will go into in this series). To put it basically, Google needs to see that you are the most relevant site for the search query being typed in and that you are getting a good deal of interaction from the site users that do visit.
How relevant are you to the search phrases being typed in to Google?
If you are reading on, I’m going to assume that you are a North East business that wants and can handle the demands that a large volume of search traffic can get you.
There are many factors that go into how far up Google you will go and chief among these is your relevance. You can’t force your way to the top spot but you can prove to Google that your site deserves to be there.
How does Google decide your relevance?
To take you through the process, I’m going to take a random search term and place it into Google:
Brand photography North East
Okay, that is fairly specific. Assuming I am a business owner and I need a photographer in the North East I’m assuming Google will give me a page of relevant results:
Which one would you click on? The descriptions and the titles are all you have to go on.
I’ll let you know what my fictional business owner selects shortly. But first…
If a company has not bothered to write a compelling description to go under the title (referred to as meta description) then Google will either display the web address with no description, or display results with text taken from the companies own site.
You can see this immediately as there are three dots placed immediately after (you can also see this before and in the middle of a description) the text. This looks incomplete and messy. It also does not display a clearly targeted sales message.
Of the six results I have shown, four of these do not have a complete description. My fictional business owner is initially compelled to ignore these right away.
Position number two in the Google listing has a ellipsis at the beginning of her description, showing that she has NOT written a meta description, but the snippet comes to a natural close and still has a feeling of completeness (more through good fortune than design).
It is also interesting to note that some of these websites are not making the most of the space allocated for titles either, which you can see from the ellipsis placed after some of the titles.
Vanessa Adams Photography North East
On the face of it, Vanessa Adams photography (position 3) seems rather good. She has a nice length on her title, she is based in the North East of England and the description is compelling in and of itself. The only element that would turn me off of this, is the typo:
The main aim of the business is to help small to medium sized businesses build and online presence, while creating brand awareness through the use of social media and blogs.
If she is to represent my company through photography, social media and blogs I want to be fairly confident she will present my brand in the best possible light. Miss spelling her own advertisement (an instead of and) does not stand her in good stead!
What should your meta data say?
It should say what your clients want to hear. It should immediately answer a question or solve a problem, and most importantly:
The description should be based upon user benefits!
As a user I want to feel that your site is speaking directly to me on an emotive level. I want to feel an immediate synergy with the website I click on.
People who type a query into Google are human.
As screamingly obvious as this may be, people still often write very factual descriptions, often bypassing any emotional content.
Further down the page we see this:
On the plus side, I see that they were established in 2007, so must be good to still be in business and I can see they are based in the North East.
On the negative side, I see nothing about what they can do FOR ME!
It takes a web user less than 1 second to decide to click on a site (generally around 50 milliseconds) and if your meta description does not stand out right away it will be ignored.
Neuro scientists all agree that the first part of your brain to react and form an opinion is the emotive part. That means your meta description must focus upon what your potential client wants.
My fictional business user WANTS photographs that will show his brand in the best possible light, He WANTS his fine business ethos to shine through in all of his graphical content because he WANTS to impress his clients and give them an emotive reason to buy from him.
It’s a happy circle when you get it right.
Let’s finish up this post by looking at what selection my fictional web user has made and what impact that has on the other sites:
I know I had a dig at her earlier (nothing personal. I’m sure you are lovely and I hope my post has inspired you to fix your typo) but of the sites listed, Vanessa Adams seems to be the pick of the bunch for my business user. She has a complete meta description, she is based in the North East of England and her copy is centred around my emotive as well as practical wants.
By ignoring the first two results Google notices that they are less relevant to my search phrase that the site currently at number three.
If a large majority of people typing in the same search phrase also ignore the first two listings in favour of Vanessa Adams too, then we can expect to see the first two listings to be demoted and Vanessa to rise to number one.
Unless of course her site does not live up the initial promise of the meta description…
If I click on her link and it turns out to be a site dedicated to Victorian houses and their place in noodle soup, then I will absolutely click away which will cause her site to be demoted.
Even if her site is relevant but the navigation is troublesome, or the site takes too long to load or the content is not appealing then I will still click away (maybe in favour of the fun loving tea drinker in position one).
This is the same as the user having a hotline to Google HQ, telling them that the site is not good and should not be ranking for this phrase. Google likes the end user and will do just about anything to keep him or her happy.
I hope this post has helped. If you have any specific queries relating to your own business content and ranking, I’d be happy to help.
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Till next time
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