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What Does it Take to Rank #1 on Google?

According to marketing consultant Mathew Barby in his recent article How to Rank Number One in Google: A Study of 1 Million Pages, some of the most common elements of top ranking websites in Google are:

  • Backlinks
  • Anchor text
  • Page titles
  • Target keywords
  • URLs

In this blog post we are going to discuss more of Barby’s findings of what it takes to rank on Google in 2017 and provide a brief rundown of how this might impact your SEO roadmap.

Backlink Quantity

Barby found that backlinks outperformed any other aspect of the study with the Top 2 Google results sharing 38% of all backlinks of page 1 search results. As always, organic and natural link building is clearly an area on which to focus.

Backlink Variety

Pages ranking #1 had 168% more linking domains that pages ranked #5. This indicates that the number of backlinks from multiple domains is more fundamental to search results than a large number of backlinks from one domain. A natural backlink profile with a diverse set of authoritative domains is important.

Anchor Text Focus

Anchor text driven by keywords is still a significant ranking factor. Pages holding the #1 ranking position had the keyword they were ranking for take up 5.4% of the anchor text. Focussing on your anchor text and keyword placement within it are a priority.

Shorter Titles & URLS

The optimal length for page titles was shown to be 8 words. The shorter the URL length, the higher the ranking position of the page. Barby’s study found that URLs under 60 characters also equate to higher ranking, and when combined with short page titles, could make excellent snippets that have high Click-Through-Rates which in turn can further strengthen the ranking. Optimizing in this way for snippets alone can be an extremely effective tactic.

Title/URL Keyword Placement

Surprisingly, the keyword presence in the title for 15.8% of number 1 pages has less to do with page presence itself than the consequence of click-throughs on the search snippet. As always, keyword placement within the URL was significant as well. If you are interested, read our recent article 3 Ways Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic to learn more about the implications of a featured snippet ranking.

HTTPS Ranks!

This study reports that 33% of pages ranked in the first 3 positions had implemented HTTPS. Google has confirmed the importance of HTTPS and in their continued efforts to make the web more secure will undoubtedly put more ongoing weight behind it where page ranking is concerned. For more information, check out our HTTPS Everywhere page.

Utilizing the items discussed in this article as next step advancements or maintaining them as an on-going part of your SEO strategy will likely improve your SERP presence. Don’t abandon other important aspects of SEO such as schema markup or mobile friendliness. Instead, include them as parts of a diversified, comprehensive, and ongoing web presence master plan.

If you have any questions about the development of your website SEO, call us today at 1-888-262-6687. Or, you can reach us by email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

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3 Ways Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic

Ever wonder what those rectangular boxes are at the top of a search engine results (SERP) page are called? Or what about how you can get your website’s information to appear in them? They’re referred to as Featured Snippets and you can have your website appear there by having the most relevant answer formatted properly on your website.

Here are three good reasons why you should strive to have your website content show up in one of them. But first, let’s examine featured snippets more closely.

What Are Featured Snippets?

Feature Snippets are answer summaries, extracted from a web page in response to a direct user query, and are presented at the top of a search results page.

Essentially, Featured Snippets are Google’s way of presenting you with the best answer they could find for the query you entered into their search engine. Featured Snippets are fast, accurate answers to very specific questions.

No need for you to browse through site after site for a particular answer. Google presents the answer front and center, no muss no fuss! And the side benefits of having a Featured Snippet on Google are that they can boost website traffic.

How Can Feature Snippets Boost Website Traffic?

There are three ways that Featured Snippets can boost website traffic for sites that have the answer Google feels is the most efficient for the query that was searched.

  1. An excerpt from the web page containing the Featured Snippet will be shown at the top of the search engine results.
  2. The page title and link to the website URL will be shown in the Featured Snippet.
  3. A hyperlink to the website page from which the Featured Snippet was extracted will also be presented beneath the Featured Snippet on the results page.

Essentially, you receive 2 links to your website, a summary, and a page title all on 1 search results page if you are able to develop a succinct answer to the question in the format the Google is looking for.

Is it time to pursue Feature Snippets as part of your SEO Strategy?

How Can I Get A Featured Snippet on Google?

If you can answer a question in a way (table, graph, or list) that Google feels is more significant than any other answer they can find, you own (temporarily) the top position in the SERPs for that specific question.

The key word here is specific.

Determining what question to answer, and how to answer the question, takes some research and persistence, but I feel any effort you put into a Feature Snippet is well worth it.

Start by examining your website content and the keywords you used on your website pages. Determine if you can re-arrange some of that content into an answer form that Google prefers to see (table, graph or list) without disturbing the content significantly.

Keep reworking the content until you answer what you feel to be a very specific question related to your industry, company or organization. It may take a bit of literary massaging to shuffle the words into a concise answer.

As you develop this content, try searching the questions you come up with and determine if a Featured Snippet already exists for the query. Continue to do this throughout the process.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve answered a question which meets all of Google’s criteria, you should also ensure that you have the correct Schema Markup in place to support the answer you have developed.

Schema Code and Featured Snippets

Along with reshaping your content to more directly address Featured Snippets, you should also be including or enhancing Schema Markup on your website to help the search engines better understand the page content you have developed.

There have been numerous discussions and articles indicating that Schema Markup isn’t necessary to secure a Featured Snippet listing on Google at the moment. And that seems to be true for the most part. But only because Google has not as yet focussed on the Schema Markup requirements that closely. They seem to have chosen instead to monitor the usefulness and long-term success of Featured Snippets. But that doesn’t mean Google has forgotten about Schema.

It is still on Google’s table, and when the time is right they will inevitably address Schema Markup as it applies to Featured Snippets and move it more prominently into play.

By addressing Schema Markup alongside your Featured Snippet plan now, you won’t lose any ground later if your Featured Snippet gains traction and Google starts enforcing the Schema Markup at a later point, penalizing your Featured Snippet content if there is insufficient Schema Markup to support it.

For more information about Advanced SEO Strategies please call our team at 1st on the List: 1-888-262-6687.

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In Answer to Your Questions

Recently a business owner emailed us with some good questions about us as he was obviously searching for a new SEO company to hire. We felt we should share these with everyone as these are the types of questions (and more importantly answers) that will help you find an ethical and experienced SEO provider. You can find more information like this on our complete FAQ page as well as our brand new eBook “14 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring an SEO”.

If you still have questions we’d be glad to help! Send us a quick email to contact@1stonthelist.ca.

How will you determine which keywords will be the target of your optimization efforts?

This is a great question. You can check your main keyword now with our Instant Site Evaluator tool. It gives you a quick overview of the URL you provide (usually your home or index page), with an analysis of your keyword ranking, your content, your popularity and technical health. For a full site review, we perform Keyword Research which investigates what your website(s) already has credit for with the Search Engines, what your potential customers are actually searching, search volumes and competitiveness of different search terms, all while considering your target areas and what is achievable within your budget

Will the optimization program include an analysis of site’s design, navigation, coding, content, and incoming links?

All of these items are addressed in our detailed Site Audit. The Audit is the very first thing we do on any SEO project. We believe our thorough analysis (most client’s audit reports are 60+ pages and include a prioritized list of recommendations) allow us to achieve the best results possible for our clients. Many times we can find issues that have gone unidentified by previous SEO companies.

Do you have a link strategy for your site and the ability to promote the site through content on appropriate third-party sites (i.e. article directories, blogs, video, images)?

Backlinks have changed dramatically in the last few years with Google’s strong stance against artificial links. This includes any links you personally pay for or hire an SEO company to build for you. Our approach to help our clients develop unique, useful content that others will naturally link to.

Are your techniques White Hat or Black Hat?

We follow 100% White Hat SEO that you can read more about on our SEO Ethics page. As a side note I don’t think that any shady SEO would actually admit to you that they use “black hat” or questionable techniques.

Can you please provide with some references or samples of successful results in the major search engines?

You can read both our Client Results page and our Client Testimonials page. We will gladly provide some relevant testimonials based on the type of project you are interested in once we have determined what your project needs will be.

Kindly tell us how long have you been in business?

Our company was founded January 1997. Take a read through our Corporate introduction which covers our background in the business and our philosophy.

Kindly tell us the price and the pages and the words optimization?

Each website and SEO campaign has its own specific needs and we develop a custom strategy to help each client meet their goals. Because each site and campaign has its own timeline and focus we gladly provide custom pricing once we have had a chance to discuss your project in more detail. In the meantime, here is an overview of our general pricing.

What is your Google Places strategy?

We highly recommend Google+ Local for locally-based businesses who serve customers within their own city. This said we help all clients by claiming the listing, writing optimized descriptions, coaching the client on how to get more reviews and so on.

What offerings do you have in traffic generation or conversion rate optimization? 

Traffic generation and conversion rate are part of the strategy we build with you. We have several options and a Conversion Optimizer on staff. Once we know more about what you are looking for we can provide more details.

How will you take care of Panda and Penguin Algorithm?

Panda is Google’s algorithm regarding Content on your website. Our optimization services focus on quality, onsite updates including unique and relevant content. Since the last Panda update on May 20 we have seen several of our client’s traffic increase because of how we have helped them build great content.  If you feel you have been penalized because of Panda we can help strategize on how to generate new, unique content for your site.

Penguin is Google’s algorithm regarding Backlinks. Over the years we have avoided link building and focused more on the quality of your own website. As a result our clients have not been affected by Penguin because of linking from our end. If you have a Penguin penalty (you can see a Manual Penalty applied in your Webmaster Tools) we have several different approaches to helping you clean this up, depending on your budget.

What question are you itching to ask?

We are here to help. For the past 17 years we have worked to find the solutions to helping businesses like your find their niche in the online marketplace. Whether you have an existing website that needs updating, a new business just launching into the marketplace, or are reaching out in new directions into social media, we have the team that will help you define your strategy, tweak your content to its optimum potential, or even build your site. You can find many of your answers in the Resources section of our site or just drop us a note at contact@1stonthelist.ca