Written by Fernando Maciá
Being at the top of Google is the obsession of any website administrator. With Google generating around 85% of all traffic from search engines, getting to those top positions is the difference between counting or not counting on the Internet.
Numerous tests show that the first three Google results are read by almost all searchers, with the rest of the first page results following in effectiveness. The number of users who explore beyond the third page of results is declining rapidly, with less than 10% of users exploring beyond the third page of results.
In other words, if your company does not appear in the first thirty positions, the chances of contacting potential customers are almost nil. Thirty places, ten of them of real privilege, for all the companies in the world. Closer than the most sought-after civil service exam… Or is it? Well, in fact there are several factors that influence this competition for the top positions that really interest you to be much less crowded than you might at first think. The key lies in segmentation, in the exact identification of your market niche and in an adequate positioning in it.
To begin with, forget about the Internet for a moment. In the real world, how many are your competitors? In other words, how many companies offer the same customer segment that you find profitable a product or service offering exactly similar to yours? It is quite possible that you have made an effort to differentiate your offer, to find a niche market to serve in a differential way, or have achieved some kind of competitive advantage. So perhaps it really competes with only a small number of companies, probably less than 30, most likely less than ten. If this is true in the real world, why should it be any different on the Internet? Even admitting that there will be sectors and market segments where a large number of competitors converge, very often if you segment your slice of the pie correctly you will find that not as many competitors are competing for the same slice.
Back to the Internet: do we all fit in Google’s top 10? The answer is yes, at least on the results pages that respond to search criteria that your potential customers pose to find companies like yours. Google has a few pages in store for you where your company can be the star, and a handful more where you’ll be at the top, in close rivalry with your closest competitors. So don’t get obsessed with traffic – in reality, when you open your business you want to serve customers, not visitors – and concentrate your efforts so that the paths of your prospects looking for you, and yours pursuing customers like them, cross on the Internet search engines. Let’s see how.
1. Identify your exact market niche.
Know what kind of customers you are targeting, who they are, where they are, how they are looking for your products or services. Keep in mind that Internet users usually start by searching for very broad concepts. For example, an English person looking for a house on the Costa Blanca might enter “house in Spain”, but this same search could correspond to the search of an English student interested in Spanish architecture, a person looking for an apartment to rent in Madrid or an economist who wants to know the increase in the price of housing in our country.
When the search engine returns an overwhelmingly high number of results is when the search is narrowed down with more specific criteria. Perhaps in a geographical area – “house in Costa Blanca” – perhaps by the type of product – “townhouse in Costa Blanca” – or by a specific type of action: “opportunities + townhouse in Costa Blanca for sale”. If your company is a small real estate agency in Jávea, for example, it is much more likely that your client will match the latter search than the former.
Currently, most searches are performed on concepts consisting of two or three words, but the trend is that the more search engines are used, the more specific the search phrases entered tend to be.
2. Identify your key concepts (keywords).
In other words, are you targeting an English-speaking audience or are you selling luxury villas to Scandinavian buyers in Alfaz del Pí? You already have a first criterion: language.
Once identified, find out how they will search for you. Think that if you are a small real estate agency in Jávea focused on the British market it is very difficult to appear among the first when someone searches for “real estate Spain”. But be aware that the proportion of your company’s potential customers among those who enter a search like this in Google is small. That is not the scenario where your company should be competing. If you have properly identified your market niche, you will be able to reach much more specific concepts: “townhouses in Javea”, “villas in Javea”, “apartments in Javea for sale”, “real estate agents in Javea”, etc.
3. Optimize your website
Or, in other words, make your website talk exactly about the kinds of things your customers are looking for.
If you are wondering how search engines rank websites, keep in mind that, in the end, a website is nothing more than information. Hundreds of years of experience have taught us how to organize information: look at a book. If I give him one and ask him what it’s about, the first thing he will undoubtedly look at is the title, subtitle and anything else on the cover. Next, you’ll flip it over and look for a synopsis or summary that you expect to find on the back cover. A third level of information would be discovered in the index. Finally, without reading it in its entirety, you would flip through a few pages and look at the chapter headings, the headings, the paragraph headings, etc. When considering whether or not to buy it, you would take into account my recommendation on that particular book, as well as other recommendations you may have received from others. And within them, he will attach more importance to the opinions of people he considers experts on the subject.
Google is no different. When ranking a website it will look at the default page title (title), the default page description (subtitle, headline) and the content of the home page which, if it is well constructed, should be a summary of everything the user will find on the website. Google will then look for the navigation (i.e. the index) and will jump from link to link through the different sections of your website (chapters) repeating the analysis process: title, description, headings, content…
And, as you do with other people’s recommendations, Google will also take into account links from other websites pointing to yours. The more important they are, the more important Google will consider your own website to be.
So you’ll want your website to have a good title and you’ll want each page of your website to have a different title specifically related to the content of your website (who cares about a book where all the chapters are called the same?). Of course, unless your company is called Coca-Cola, do not use your own company name as the title. Those who already know him probably also know his web address (would you buy a book in which the title and each and every chapter had the same name as the author?)
4. Learn from your customers
Study your web traffic statistics and find out in which search engines your visitors found you and with which search terms they searched for you. This way you will learn which of them are actually used by your potential customers. Keep creating pages with these concepts and look for allies who will present your site as a reference (and “vote” for you in the form of a link pointing to your home page). Little by little, your website will earn its privileged position in the searches that can bring you the most profitability.
In the competition to be first in the search engines, do not try to fight in very general terms. You can be the first if you identify well how your niche market is looking for you. You may get less traffic than your competitors but the proportion of your visits that ultimately result in a purchase – your conversion rate to customer – will be much higher. And at the end of the day, what do you care about, customers or traffic?