Do you want first page rankings or #1 in Google?
Ask that question to anyone who wants to be found in Google and they will tell you that they obviously want the top spot.
But are they willing to pay for it?
Many times when a potential client asks me how much it will cost for a search term, I give them the price for a #1 ranking. Some are stunned at the price, but let’s take a look at what it takes to get a #1 ranking in Google.
First – There is someone who is in the top spot that you need to dis-lodge. Google loves aged links. If the top search result has a lot of these, it will take quite an effort to push them out of that spot. How would you know this? A seo audit will tell us about what that site did to earn the rankings.
Make no mistake. Any site that is #1 in Google for a competitive phrase didn’t get there by accident. That site has had effort applied for the search term that is ranked.
Does anyone think they will just let that slip away without a fight?
So, knowing what you’re up against is critical if you think you have a shot at replacing the top search result. You might think your content is better, but until you can prove it (via links), Google won’t rank it that way.
If you want first page rankings, you can visit many webmaster forums and get busy workers from India who will link bomb your site for you. You might creep onto the bottom of the first page, but to get to the top spot you need quality.
What makes up quality links? Topical links. Links from Social media where real people are talking about you. Edu and .gov links. Links from active communities related to the phrase you want. Videos.
In order to get to the top spot you’re going to have to dominate the vertical for that phrase. Your site needs to have every possible way of supporting the search term you want to get ranked for. Otherwise, you are left with a few options.
Does your site stack up to the competition online? Many times sites can reach the top of the mountain but won’t stay there because the site delivers a poor experience. Google tracks this and applies it to the ranking results. If people continually come back to Google after clicking the link to your site, Google will declare your site un-worthy of that placement and push you down.
I can’t speak to how others price for their services, but I always try to look at the situation as a customer. Do you want to pay to just show up? Or do you want the top spot?
One essential piece of information the often gets overlooked in search is the experience of the person or team who will be executing your search campaign. In SEO, experience matters. It saves time and money by knowing what not to do and to know what is important to worry about, and what to take action on.
This is why smart businesses seek out experienced professionals. They know it’s worth the money spent to hire someone who knows the right path to take from the start. A professional should be able to spot potential dangers ahead of the client and provide solutions or guidance as to how to avoid time and money by warning a client ahead of time.
Experience in search also means experiments. You should never hire any seo vendor that doesn’t test their own theories in getting ranked. How else would they know if what they’re doing will get results in Google? Sure “content is king”, but you also need to get the message out without spamming.
I am constantly testing ideas on what I think Google wants to see from sites, but I only use my own properties. This way, all risk is on my own sites, and any potential damaging exploits I use will only impact my own sites. I would never risk a client’s site this way.
One last point to wrap this up. Some phrases are extremely competitive and will take a tremendous amount of time and effort to get ranked. It always amazes me that people think $500 per month on a phrase will get them to the top. Do you think Bank of America only spends $500 per month for a phrase like “Home Loans?”
If you want the top spot, you’re gonna have to pay for it.