Why Trying to Rank Number 1 in Google is a Waste of Time, and What You Should Do Instead
Ranking number one in Google for targeted keywords has always been tough, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, it is so difficult now it is simply not worth the time, effort, and money. You won’t get a return on investment, particularly if the keyword has a lot of competition.
This is an unusual concept for many people to understand, whether you are a digital marketing expert or not. After all, appearing at the top of Google has been the goal of businesses online for more than a decade.
We are focused on ROI, though – getting a tangible return for the money, time, and effort you spend on digital marketing activities. On that basis, chasing the number one spot in Google is not worth it.
First, let’s look at why and then we can look at what you should do instead.
Firstly, you need to post lots of content. In simple terms, websites in the same industry or niche as you that post more content will usually get a higher position in Google.
What does lots of content translate to, though? According to HubSpot, it is 11 or more blog posts per month. That’s more than two per week which is more than most small and medium-sized businesses can achieve.
Remember also they must be high-quality blog posts. Throwing up a couple of hundred words promoting something about your business or rehashing something that has appeared somewhere else is not going to cut it.
You need longer, unique, informative, and useful blog posts three or more times a week. As already mentioned, that is a bar that is too high for most businesses. Can you really afford to spend so much time writing content when you have customers to service and other aspects of your business to run?
Another key element to ranking number one in Google is backlinks. You need thousands of them to rank for most of the important keywords. Not only that, the backlinks must come from high-authority websites and there must be multiple domains.
Unless you’re willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on building this backlink profile for your target keywords, you are unlikely to get enough to get you to number one.
In addition to the above two points, you are probably competing with an established competitor. They will already have content that Google knows people like and it will have backlinks. For many keywords, that head start is too much to come back from.
Click-Through-Rates are Underwhelming
Even if you manage to deal with the content, link, and established competition issues, the results you get from ranking number one in Google might not give you a good enough return on investment.
After all, just 66% of search queries get a click, and most experts believe that number continues to fall.
Why is this happening? There are two main reasons:
- Cluttered search result pages – on a search results page, people often have to wade through PPC ads, Google Shopping results, social results, news results, video results, and more. All too often, the organic search results, including the number one position, get lost in the mix.
- Google often gives the answer – for many keywords, Google tries to give the answer to the user’s query right on the search results page, negating the need for the user to click through to your website.
Finally, Google constantly changes the way its algorithm works.
So, let’s assume you find a way to deal with the above issues, you get to number one, and you’re getting traffic. Google then changes the algorithm in a way that drops you out of the number one position. In this situation, the fortunes in time and money you have spent getting to number one are for nothing.
In other words, it doesn’t make sense:
- Investing when the odds are so stacked against you
- Achieving number one spot when you might not get the results you hoped for
- Investing so much in a third-party platform that you have zero control over
What You Should Do Instead
You should focus on results, not traffic.
Getting to number one in Google is about maximising traffic. Focusing on results is about maximising profit which makes much more business sense.
There are lots of ways you can do this including:
- Google ads
- Lead generation or conversion ads on Facebook
- Creating lead magnets – downloads you offer in return for a website visitor’s email address
You should also focus on how your web pages look on search results pages instead of their position.
This means optimising the page title of each page as well as the meta description – the two-line summary you see under the headline of each listing on Google’s search results pages. Both of these should encourage the user to click on your website instead of one of the other options.
Focusing on results IS worth your money and time, and will deliver a much better ROI than trying to get to Google’s number one spots.