Getting to the #1 Spot (SEO)

“But how can we get that #1 spot? Can we pay Google for that?” This was the question a client asked me, many years ago. The answer then is similar to the answer no. “Sort of.” While you can pay to be placed at the top of search results, it’s temporary. As soon as another business is willing to spend more money, or you stop paying… you’re no longer number one. The solution is SEO.

How to Get Better Search Engine Rank

This is why I rarely advise my clients to invest their money in paid Google advertising. After all, I’ve had great luck helping clients build their “real” (also known as organic) search results. The best part is that this effort doesn’t go away the moment you stop – because there’s nothing to stop. It’s an investment in your business that pays into the future.

What factors go into search engine rank? We can’t be sure since search engines keep that information private. If they didn’t, it would be easier to game the system, which is exactly what they try to prevent. We do know a number of strategies that work well, however. Everything I write here is something I do for my clients and their websites. This process is referred to as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you’d like me to do this for you, contact me.

Update your Website

You want to keep your website updated, but not too often. How often? As often as it’s relevant. Changing out pictures with the seasons is a good way to think of it. If you’re not routinely adding new pages and posts (like, with a blog) you should at least change out a few photos and a handful of words every 6 months.

SEO Works Best When you Write Enough Content

Think of the job of a search engine – to connect people with the website that best meets their needs. Sometimes the person searching doesn’t even know what they need, which makes this quite the challenge. But we can assume that a webpage with 2 sentences on it is unlikely to be as helpful as one with several paragraphs. I advise clients to write at least 300 words per page, ideally 500 words.

Add Relevant Photos

SEO checklistPictures, when used appropriately, help readers understand the content. This means a good quality web page will have several relevant photos to help the user understand the text. Even better if you fill out that alt img box – the one designed to help visually-impaired readers know what the picture is about.

Link to Other Pages

It’s called the internet for a reason – it’s more effective when it’s connected. For that reason, every page on your website should link to another page in your website and, also, some outside website. You shouldn’t force this, but if you have a handy way to help the readers understand something you’re saying by linking to another website, do it.

Focus on Good Content

There are lots of organizations out there trying to game the system and promising to get people to your website. The problem is, they often end up getting the wrong people to your website. The irony in all of this is that the same strategies that get people to your website, keep them there. Write content that helps people, and in the right way. Focus on what your ideal customer wants, and write more of that.

Keep it Going

Don’t write a dozen pages and stop. Keep adding more content over time. That’s something you might notice on this site – frequency. Am I writing often? No. But trying to find time periodically to write more content that would be helpful to my target audience – small business owners.


Yes, it’s important that you use the right words in your content. Historically, though, I’ve found that when my clients try to think about certain words, they do a poor job of it. They use the words too often, or the quality of the writing goes down dramatically. Remember, the job of the SEO work you do is to get people to the website – but what they find when they get there determines if they’re going to convert (aka, contact you, buy, etc.) Having poorly written “keyword stuffed” content is just a recipe for frustration. Don’t do it. Focus on writing the best quality content you can, and the keywords will show up naturally.

Final Thoughts on SEO

Of course, this whole conversation can be a lot more nuanced. The complexity of an SEO strategy depends on the amount of competition for those valuable key words. It might not even be the most important part of a strategy to get customers – but it’s probably on the list. How far down depends on a number of factors.

If I had to give a client an overall strategy for SEO, it would be to think of their ideal client. What does that person want? What sort of articles, videos, images will help them in their life, with respect to your offerings? Instead of simply trying to sell to people, try to deliver value. Become indispensible. You might not gain a customer or client today, but you never know when they will come back in the future. Forget the short-term dollar and build a long-term business. Far easier to maintain, and far more rewarding.