#1 in Google
search for #1 in Google

Okay, maybe you can be #1 in Google for certain search terms in certain environments, but it’s time for a reality check. You get email solicitations and phone calls by so-called “SEO experts” claiming that they will be able to get you to be “#1 in Google”.

So, can you be #1 in Google or even on page 1? That is a loaded question. Being #1 in Google sounds like a very specific goal, but it is actually vague and ambiguous. There are so many searches occurring every second with multiple keywords (long-tail searches) that you may appear as #1 for something extremely unique, like your business name and city, but how much traffic and how many new customers is that search going to generate? If someone is looking for your business name and city, they probably already know who you are and are most likely looking for your address or contact information, which Google will provide without requiring the user to actually click on the link to your website.

Customized results

Europe Google Search Continent
Europe the continent…?

The reason that achieving the #1 position in Google across the board is unattainable is that since 2007 Google has been using search history for logged in users to create a personalized search experience. This feature was ramped up in 2009 to provide “personalized search results” for all users, even when they’re not logged in, based on search history. What that means is that when you search for something in Google, different results may display for you than for someone else, and the results will be ordered differently. What you see is customized for you. The technology behind this strategy has been refined over the years and has incorporated history across all Google properties, including Google+, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and more.

Search Engine Land has a great article describing the different ways that Google will personalize results. Google has many methods of personalizing your search results, using geography, search history, personal sharing, social connections, and previous queries. Additionally, Google also performs mass personalization based on trending searches in its network. With the incorporation of Google+ into search results (Search, plus Your World), Google has combined personal images and social interactions into the search results without separating them into their own area, so the results have become even more personalized.

You CAN be #1

Europe Google Search Band
…or Europe the band?

What does this all mean? Basically, you can’t be #1 all of the time (or even on page 1), but you can be #1 some of the time in some searches. However, instead of focusing on what position you are for every different possible keyword combination, you should focus on providing useful content for your visitors.

The goal of becoming #1 is to help people who are searching for your goods and services to find your website, social media properties or any other content you have created in order to connect with you.

This makes content marketing even more important. Content marketing can help grow your business, with content that attracts traffic, such as your website, blogs, social content, podcasts, videos, webinars, infographics, eBooks, white papers, and more. If you don’t have time to do all of this yourself, you should find a good writer who understands your business and industry and can help you create the content needed to stand out from your competition.