SE-NO Part 1: Being #1 in Google

iStock_000019060874XSmallSay this with me 3 times:

  • Your customers are more important than Google.
  • Your customers are more important than Google.
  • Your customers are more important than Google.

(Replace “customers” with “clients,” “readers,” “patients,” or whatever is most applicable to you.)

You now know 80% of what you need to know about SEO.

What the heck is SEO anyway?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which many  people believe (due to the extreme and misleading marketing done by some SEO firms) is a magic tool that someone can add to your site to make it soar to the top spots in Google search results. It’s not. There are no magic tricks. Anyone who tells you there are is trying to sell you the proverbial bridge in Brooklyn.

SEO means a lot of things. At its heart, it means making your site search-engine friendly – making it easy for search engines to read and organize what your site is about and what it offers. In the broader sense, it means anything that gets more traffic to your site from search engines.  It isn’t something someone can just add for you. It isn’t one thing.

But I want to be #1 in Google!

Who doesn’t? But for what? I get emails all the time from people asking me “to make them #1 in Google,” but that is a fruitless goal.

What Google serves up depends on what a person has searched for, i.e., what “keyword phrase” the person has typed in the search box. For example, if you search for “duck farms” you will get one set of results. If you search for “how to farm ducks,” you will get a different set of results. Some of the links may be shared by both searches, but they will almost certainly be in a different order.

How many times have you searched for something, not found the results you were looking for, and then tried changing up your search phrase, adding more words, rearranging the words, changing the words, to try to find the result you are looking for? I do it all of the time. Just adding or changing one word can drastically alter what results you are served.

It also depends on where the person searching is located (someone in New York may get entirely different results from someone in Dallas), what that person has searched for and clicked on before, and that person’s web browsing history. To reach its goal of showing the most relevant results, the results each person is most likely to be looking for, Google actually shows different results for different people!

So when you enter a phrase and click Search, Google use an extremely complicated algorithm to attempt to find not only the most relevant results, but the most relevant results FOR YOU.

Therefore, saying “I want to be #1 in Google” is too vague to even be meaningful. A better goal might be “I want to show up in the top ten results for this specific search phrase for people in Podepunkville, Minnesota.”

This is where you say “But Jenny, different people will use different search phrases, and you just told me that Google will give different results to different people based on a bunch of stuff I can’t control!”


Your customers are more important than Google.

This is why, instead of spending all of your energy, time, and money trying to “be #1 in Google” – you should instead be trying to be #1 for your customers (clients/patients/readers). Stop trying to trick Google into thinking you are the most relevant search result for what your customers are looking for. Instead start trying to BE the most relevant result for what your customers are looking for.

Is this easy? Heck no. But it is a meaningful goal that serves who you are supposed to be trying to serve—your customers. If you are successful in doing that, and assuming your site is well built to be optimized by Google (more on that in a later post) the results in Google will (eventually) show that.

Also read: 

Part 2: Being #1 for Customers.

Part 3: Blogging for SEO

Part 4: Now what?