Google First Page Case Study – Introduction
The objective of this case study is to demonstrate how to get a web page that is already indexed but languishing around the lower pages in Google onto the first page for a particular keyword and therefore start getting web traffic for that keyword.
For the purposes of this case study, this website belongs to a client of mine and although I will be reporting the results and the steps taken, the identity of the website and keyword shall remain anonymous. All that I will say is that it is in the health and fitness market and the keyword is a reasonably competitive long tail that gets around 8000 exact searches per month on Google.
As of today, my client’s web page is indexed at position 36 on Google US and the objective is to get that web page onto page 1, as high as possible.
The Competition Analysis Phase
Step 1 – Measure Your competition
The first thing to assess is the level of competition that you will have to take on to secure a position hopefully at number 1 in Google but at least onto the first page. For this task, I use a combination of SECockpit for social network metrics and also market samurai for Google metrics. SECockpit can also cover the Google metrics but I believe Market Samurai offers more data and has the advantage of being able to enter custom URL’s to allow easy side-by-side comparisons with the competition.
In Market Samurai, I look at the SEO competition function to download the top 10 competitors for the target keyword phrase.
Looking at the screenshot of Market Samurai above you will notice there are a lot of green and yellow highlights over the data, you might be wondering what this means? Well, green highlights mean easier competition whereas red highlights mean tricky competition. Yellow is somewhere in between the two. In the example above, there are a lot of green areas for the on-page SEO stuff like having the keyword phrase in titles, descriptions, URL’s and Headline tags.. At a glance, this tells me that the competition have NOT optimized their web pages for this particular keyword.
You can see the top listing in this example, (which is our case study URL), has got red highlights for all the on page SEO factors mentioned, meaning that the on-page SEO is very good for this keyword phrase and probably explains why it is currently ranking reasonably well on Google’s 3rd page of results on the strength of this.
Google do not deem this strong on-page SEO performance as enough to get our web page onto page 1 of Google though and indeed, believes that the other 10 pages are “currently” more worthy of those slots, even though their on-page SEO is not that strong. Which begs the question… Why?
There are a number of factors which decide the fate of the top 10 of Google and on-page factors like keywords in titles etc.. are just a part of that algorithm. The other main factor is the off-page stuff like number and quality of backlinks, social metrics like Facebook likes, tweets, Google +1’s etc..
If you look at the screenshot above which shows the same top 10 results in SECockpit, you will notice all the social metrics for those results. As you can see, in this example, there is once again a lot of green and yellow which does indicate easier competition with regard to these social metrics. Unfortunately, SECockpit does not allow custom URL’s to be added for comparison so it isn’t possible to compare our URL with the top 10 and see how it compares in terms of social metrics.
The next step is to look at each of the listings individually and try and determine how and why they are on the first page of Google. This is simply a case of opening the page, looking at on and off page SEO, Social metrics and also brand awareness. This is a bit of a gray area but sometimes big, well known brands will do well on Google simply because of who and what they are and has more to do with trust and authority than anything else. This is especially the case these days as Google use manual human reviewers for a lot of keyword phrases and so it is not as simple as saying all of the top 10 listings are the result of some automated algorithm anymore. With that said, here are the reasons for the top 10 listings in our case study example.
- At position 1, this website is the website of an American celebrity doctor who has his own show on US TV and as such has a huge following already. This can be seen by the red highlights over the social metrics if you look at the screenshot above. However, the on page SEO is very weak but has a number of backlinks pointing to the domain. I would say that this is at number 1 on Google due to it’s brand awareness, off page SEO and social metrics. It would be very difficult to dislodge this page at number 1 but not impossible.
- At position 2 is a website that also has a listing at position 3 as well.. It is certainly beatable and is at position 2 and 3 on the basis of the number and quality of it’s backlinks.
- At position 4 is the website of a popular off line magazine in the health niche and I would say it is riding high because of it’s brand awareness, reasonable social metrics and number and quality of backlinks. It is beatable, although quite difficult.
- At number 5 is an article on About.com. For some reason, Google loves about.com and will generally always do well.
- At number 6 is what I call a “Hobby Site” and these are the sites of real interest to me. The reason they interest me is because generally they are created by people who love the niche or by marketers like you and me. I will be pulling this website apart in more detail to assess its strengths and weaknesses. More on that later…
- At position 7 is a YouTube video.
- At position 8 is a major health web site in the US and is there based on its strong off page SEO and brand awareness. It is beatable though..
- At position 9 is another hobbyist site and is also worthy of further investigation.
- At position 10 is another website of a celebrity doctor and has got there based on brand awareness and off-page SEO.
In my next post, I will be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the pages I highlighted above and armed with that data I can formulate a plan of action to beat those sites and gain a top 10 position for our case study URL.