Why you shouldn’t aim to get to the top of Google

If you’re in the process of getting a new website, or jigging around with your old one, have you sat down and thought about what you want your site to actually do?

Very often I have conversations with potential clients whose sole aim is ‘getting to the top of Google’. Come hell or high water, they want their site to appear at the top of the search engines. That’s it. That’s their goal. And nothing more.

So, ok, you’re at the top of Google for your chosen phrases, but now what?

Well, that’s just the beginning. Because the next part is actually getting visitors to click through to your site. So we’re talking about a well written page title and meta description tag to improve your ‘clickability’.

And then, of course, there’s the site itself. How easy are you making it for your visitor to buy; download; book; donate; add to basket; find out more information; or call? Easy as possible if you want to increase sales. Because, let’s face it, for most of us it’s all about sales.

And this is where some people go really wrong. Because if the sole aim of your site is to achieve number 3 on page 1 of Google you’re going to feel it’s job done the moment you’ve achived that. 

I got a comment on the blog the other week from a chap who runs a bed and breakfast in Blackpool. He told me he was really high on Google, he got hundreds of people a day visiting the site, but wasn’t getting any bookings. A quick visit to his site and it was easy to see why: it was awful. Hard to read, hard to look at, hard to navigate, hard to book, and hard to find out any information. Seriously, when I close my eyes I can still that site; the image of it has burnt into my retinas.

The point is: don’t have ‘getting to the top of the Google’ as your sole aim. That’s just the beginning of the job. It’s great that you’re driving visitors to your site. But what are you going to do with them once they’re there? Getting sales should be your real focus.

  • Ben Locker
    Posted at 15:12h, 21 October Reply

    Interesting – it’s a mistake that’s more often made by people who chuck money at PPC campaigns, but lose conversions by having a terrible website.

    Of course, there are lots of factors that will get you good rankings in Google – but if you’re in a competitive market, the chances are you won’t get very high unless your site is well-coded, accessible, includes decent meta-data, heading hierarchies etc etc. That’s the one thing I do like about search engines – they often penalise terrible sites, but not enough for my liking.

    • Sarah Turner
      Posted at 15:21h, 21 October Reply

      Yep, see my Blackpool guy!
      And yes you’re right about PPC campaigns. How many times do you click on a PPC ad only to end up on the home page and not a specific landing page? Or a rotten old site that’s impossible to buy from? Such a waste of money.

  • Rob Dobson
    Posted at 16:32h, 21 October Reply

    Brilliant! Shout it from the rooftops please Sarah.

  • Firstfound - Greg Doyle
    Posted at 17:29h, 21 October Reply

    I agree that getting to the top of google or any other search engine should not be the sole aim of a company. However in SEO the main focus is to get the site to rank for the search engines for the relevant phrases. Yes it is no good if a site gets to the top but then no one clicks on it but it needs to get up there in the first instance for people to actually see it. The emphasis needs to be split between optimising for the search engines and the users and should generally be about making the site relevant for its area of business.
    This is generally a hotly contested topic about whether the sole aim is to optimise for the search engines or the people doing the searches. Obviously in an ideal world your site would be found for all of its relevant content and the search engines would be able to tell everything about your business without any need for optimisation at all. But then where would we all be.

  • Katherine
    Posted at 16:52h, 19 April Reply

    Another great post Sarah. So many people write for Google and forget that Google won’t be buying their products or services.. at least not any time soon! It’s real people who visit and real people who have to like what they see, otherwise they won’t be buying anyway…

    Many thanks – keep up the good work!


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