See You at the Top! (of Google Results)

at the topIf you want to succeed in business, it’s absolutely critical that you keep your website ranked on the front page of Google, Bing and other search engines for your niche’s best keywords.

That’s because universal internet access and the widespread use of affordable access devices like smartphones and tablets has made search engines the number one way consumers seek out goods and services, especially at the local level.

With Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), if you can capture one of three top spots, or at least land on Page 1, your business is essentially guaranteed to succeed. But if land on any other page, it is highly unlikely that potential customers will ever find you.

SERPIn fact, about 11% of people will click only on the link posted in the Number One spot of the Google SERP for whatever they are searching for. And about 70% will never go beyond the front page. So that means if you website is ranked on Page 2, Page 3, or any other page besides the front page, seven out of ten of your potential customers are never going to see your website.

Similarly, if your link isn’t in the Number One spot on the Google SERP for your keywords, you are going to lose a minimum of your potential customer base. So you can see how critical it is for your website to be posted on the first page at least, and in the top spot at best.

The Google Algorithm Updates

Search_algorithm3Just when most Internet marketers had Search Engine Optimization figured out, Google changed the ways its algorithm ranks pages.

In August 2011, it launched its Panda search engine algorithm which shifted the primary ranking tool from backlinks to social signals. That shift was reaffirmed when Google’s Penguin update was introduced in April 2012.

In the post-Penguin internet landscape, therefore, web page owners are better served by designing their Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts around encouraging people on social media to link to and approve their pages, rather than focusing most of their time creating backlinks, which are still useful but no longer of primary importance.

LSI Keywords

LSI-KeywordsIncluding the optimal number of keywords related to your niche – 2% to 4% — is important to improving your Google ranking. But the Penguin update now looks Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords (LSIs). That’s basically a fancy way of saying synonyms.

Google also now gives preference to web pages that flow more organically. Pages that are optimally saturated with synonyms for the keyword rank better than those stuffed with the same keyword that is used over and over again.

Visitor Behavior

analyse-visitors-behaviorAnother big change is how Google’s search engine measures the behavior of your page’s visitors once they arrive there. It looks at things like how long the average visitor stays on your page, how frequently they return, the click-through rate, and surf patterns. Another important factor is the bounce rate, which is how many visitors click away from your page after only a second or two. A high bounce rate tells Google a page has lower quality.

Your bounce rate will be higher if visitors don’t find what they are looking for when they arrive on your site, or if they find your content to be dull and uninteresting. Bounce rate also will spike if your content is the same they can find everywhere else.

Pages that have audio or video that starts automatically tend to cause visitors to click off right away, especially if they are viewing the page at their workplace. Many marketers who don’t understand this simply dynamic are shooting themselves in the foot by including instant play video or audio on their web pages. The moment their video or audio starts to play, their potential customers are gone.bounce

Reducing Bounce Rate

Two of the best techniques for decreasing our bounce rate are to make it easier for high-target visitors to find your page and to create high-value content. Look at the keywords that are attracting your page’s visitors: Are they the best ones? If not, users who arrive and don’t find what they want will bounce, negatively affecting your SERP rank.