Nearly everyone who owns a website, whether they be an individual, a small business or a multinational corporation, wants their website to be No.1 in Google. Most aren’t even satisfied with being No.1 for their primary keyword – they want No.1 rankings for lots of keywords. Of course, for every keyword only a single website can be ranked first. The owner of that website will naturally think that Google is doing a great job of ranking websites for that keyword, whereas everyone else targeting that keyword will think that the rankings are unfair or that the SEO consultant or company that they hired are lazy or incompetent.
Why would they think that? Because most businesses think that their website deserves to be ranked No.1 and if it’s not ranking top of Google then it must be someone’s fault. Not all websites deserve to be ranked first though. Only one website deserves to be first for each keyword, and that website is the one with the best content. The best content is what people (surely yourself also) want to see ranked first when they search for something and that is what Google aims to give them. So, if people searching want to see the best content first, and Google wants to show them the best content first, if your website doesn’t have better content than the websites ranked above it, can you really say that it deserves to be ranked first? It would be hard to argue so from an unbiased point of view.
What is open to debate though is what the “best content” is. In Google’s eyes, the best content is the content that best meets the intention and need of a searcher for a particular keyword phrase. The best content isn’t necessarily the longest content or the content written by the most well known person. The best content could well be just a few lines long and be written anonymously. Google can’t manually review all of content on the internet, so for them to determine which is the best content for a particular keyword phrase they have to rely on various metrics, which include: the words and phrases used on a page, how long people spend viewing a page, and the number and quality of other websites linking to a page.
It’s worth remembering here that Google ranks webpages rather than websites for each keyword. The terms are often used interchangeably, but in practice the difference is very important, as Google’s search results display specific webpages, and not just website homepages, in response to each keyword phrase searched for. This means that a good website won’t automatically outrank a poor website for every keyword that they‘re both targeting. For example, a website which generally has great content and lots of backlinks can be outranked for a particular keyword by a website that generally has poor content and few backlinks. This can happen if, for a particular keyword, a webpage on the generally poor website has better content than a webpage on the generally good website.
You will no doubt have seen, as it’s not uncommon, that the best content doesn’t always get ranked at the top of Google. Sometimes the best content for a keyword gets ranked 5th to 10th whilst the No.1 position is given to a webpage with second-rate content. This is partly due to Google’s algorithm not being perfect and partly due to some businesses, or the SEO company working on their behalf, having taken a shortcut to achieve that ranking. That shortcut is nearly always pointing unethical backlinks to a webpage so as to artificially increase its relevance and authority. SEO shortcuts can and do work, however, they are a short-term approach and are inherently risky. Google is constantly on the lookout for websites that use underhand methods to boost their rankings, and if you’re caught taking shortcuts then not only will your business’s site lose its rankings but, due to a penalty being applied, you may never get them back again.
The only long-term, risk-free way to achieve good rankings is to earn them and deserve them, and that means to ensure that the page on your site that you want to rank for a particular keyword phrase contains better content than all of the pages currently ranking in the top 10 of Google for that keyword. You have to look at the content on the pages ranked in the top 10 and ask yourself whether you’re prepared to create content that is at least as good as that content. If you’re not prepared to invest the time or money required to do that then you don’t deserve to be ranked first. If your content doesn’t deserve to be at the top of Google, then you put an SEO consultant or company, regardless of how good they are and how much you pay them, in a difficult situation if you demand a No.1 ranking. You leave them with no choice but to take shortcuts, which may temporarily achieve what you want, but will ultimately put your business’s website and rankings at risk.
If you have first-rate content on your site, and deserve to be top of Google, then a good SEO service can make that happen without resorting to shortcuts. For example, they can find out which websites are currently linking to the pages ranked in the top 10 and contact them to say “You’re linking to this page at the moment, but my client has an even better page on their website now. Would you link to them instead?”. With second-rate content, it’s simply not possible to do that. Having the best content also attracts the best possible kind of links – natural ones. When people need to link to something online, they want to link to the best content available for that topic. If a page on your site is the best resource for that topic, then they will link to you without you needing to ask them to. That equates to link building on auto-pilot and link building for free. Again, with second-rate content, this won’t happen.
So, before doing any SEO work yourself, or paying an SEO service provider to do it for you, consider which pages on your website you want to rank for which keywords and whether the content on each of those pages is better than the content on the pages currently ranking in the top 10 for each of those keywords. If the content on your site isn’t at least as good as your competitors then first invest in improving your content. Only when the content on each page that you want to rank could objectively be considered to be better than the content on the pages already ranking in the top 10 can you say that you deserve to be top of Google.