Here’s what you can do to up your rankings instead!
Gone are the days when a strong SEO game could get you to the first page—let alone the coveted first position—on Google’s results pages. Now, we’re competing with saturated markets, and contending with evolving features, to get to the top of results.
First things first, SEO?
If you don’t know what SEO is, no judgment. Acronyms abound online, and we don’t blame you for not keeping up with the Joneses (or the Googles, as the case may be). SEO is short for “search engine optimization,” which essentially refers to optimizing your website to get to the top of search engine results.
You can optimize your website using different SEO tools and strategies, but the takeaway is this: In the past, said tools and strategies (including keywords) were often enough to move you to the top of search engine results, but that’s no longer the case. As the Internet and its players evolve, so too do the features, functions and algorithms therein.
It’s a long way to the top
Even if you do land that elusive first position on Google organically (in other words, with a strong SEO game), it doesn’t mean you’ll be at the top of the page—wait, what?! Yeah. With all-new features being introduced to search engine results pages, your prized first position is moving its way further and further down the page, ousted for ads, Google My Business listings and maps, even video. If you’re searching Google on your mobile device (as over half of us do*), that’s a lot of scrolling before you even see an organic result.
How to play the game
If you want to outsmart the Google gods, you’re going to have to think bigger than SEO. Here are our top four strategies for getting ahead of the game.
Google is becoming more “pay to play,” requiring businesses to have a paid search strategy on top of their SEO strategy. Pay a visit (literally) to ads.google.com, and get preferential treatment when users search Google with your selected keywords.
Google My Business
You can keep your wallet in your back pocket for this one: Google My Business is a free feature that showcases your business when users search for you (or businesses like you). You’ll get a profile on Google’s results pages, as well as Google Maps.
You may have noticed Google sometimes serves up relevant answers to the questions you search, front and center on the actual results pages—these are called “featured snippets” and get the VIP treatment, preceding all other organic results. Using a tool like SEMrush, you can optimize your content and increase your chances of landing a featured snippet.
Whether you’re a YouTube sensation or camera shy, video is becoming an essential piece of the content marketing puzzle and can make or break your optimization efforts. Consider how you can add a value-driven video to your website consistently (you don’t go to the gym once and get six-pack abs), and don’t forget to add textual context.
While the days of organic search engine rankings may be numbered, if you stay on top of the changes Google regularly rolls out, there’s no reason you can’t stay on top of your game—and maybe even at the top of Google.