Does Your Website Deserve To Be Number 1?

Everyone wants to be number one on google, but does your website deserve to be there?

gold medal

There is a question that most website owners and internet marketers will have asked many times…

‘How can I get my web page to rank at number 1 for x phrase?’

But if you stop and think about it for a second, doesn’t this miss a key point? Shouldn’t the question actually be…

‘Why should my web page rank at number 1 for x phrase?’

Or even better….

‘Does my web page deserve to rank at number 1 for x phrase?’

A Turning Point In SEO

We just might be at a turning point in SEO.

With Panda and Penguin (and to a lesser extent the EMD update) doing a good job of stopping spammy techniques from easily ranking websites, and now with Hummingbird seemingly rewarding detailed, authoritative content, we should be entering a period when the top search results for a given phrase are there on merit – not because a fly by night internet marketer has bought the most proxies for his weekly link blast.

Everyone Wants To Be Number 1

Everyone wants to be number 1 for a given search. And for good reason.

The number 1 position gets 33% of all the clickthroughs from the SERP, with a swift drop down to 18% for the result at number 2 (source).

This excellent graph by Chitika shows the drop off in CTR as we move down the top 10 results.


Once you get down to position 10 you are picking up just 2 or 3 clicks per 100 impressions – a huge difference in traffic.

So, it is understandable why everyone wants that coveted top spot, but of course, therein lies the problem…

By definition there can only be 1 number 1!

So, in a post Panda, Penguin, EMD and Hummingbird search landscape, how do you (or how should you) go about getting there for a given phrase? And how can you make sure your webpage stays at number 1, without having to worry about future google updates?

To Be Number 1, Be Number 1

Well, it all starts with a simple premise and the question we asked back at the start of this article. Does my webpage deserve to be at number 1 for this phrase?

You have to take a step back from your personal attachment to your site and start thinking as a user.

Will 90% of people who click through to your page be satisfied with what they find and not have to click back to the SERP to view further results?

Here are some more questions you might want to ask yourself.

1) Is my webpage a perfect fit for the query?

So, if you are targeting ‘buy shoes’, does your webpage sell shoes, or at least give some utterly amazing information on the best places for people to buy shoes?

And going beyond that and thinking on a business level as opposed to a search level…

2) Is my product/service actually valuable?

Your web page sells shoes. Great. But are your shoes actually any good? Will people want to buy your shoes and recommend them to others? (more on this in a minute)

3) Is my webpage the ultimate authority on this topic?

Let’s say you are not selling something (at least not at this point), but are targeting some specific phrase where people will be searching for information.

Is your webpage the ultimate resource for this? Why should people visit your page instead of just going to wikipedia? Do you cover all the angles and answer all the questions (or at least provide links to further resources which do?).

4) Is my webpage up to date?

We live in an ever changing world, so make sure your information is kept up to date.

Evergreen content can be a great source of continuous search engine traffic, so you should (*must*) undertake regular content reviews and make updates where necessary. If you don’t your competitors will and you will soon lose that number 1 spot (and quite rightly as the answer to question 3 will be no!).

Expanding On Question 2

I could go on about this for hours, but business on the web is no different from any other business and you should always be asking yourself if you offer the best possible service and what you can do to improve that service.

I realise that those two questions don’t really work together, but the thing is there is always something you can improve, so technically you will never offer the best possible service and will always be working on the second question… (hopefully that makes sense!)

My article on dealing with negative reviews touched on this. Every business makes mistakes (hopefully you learn from them), so it is how you react those times when things don’t go 100% right that really counts.

Whether you have a physical business or a virtual one, you should always be striving to improve the experience for your customers/visitors.

And If You Are The Best…

If you can answer yes to those 4 questions you have a justifiable case for your webpage being number 1 in the search results for your targeted query.

So, in the words of Jean-Luc Picard… ‘make it so’.

But do it the right way with some white hat marketing.

Wait, white hat link building is hard right?

Actually, no it’s not!

At least not when your content/web page/product is genuinely excellent.

If you are really the best then getting people to link to you will be easier than you think. But how?

Well, there is a secret to it…

Ask them.

Good old fashioned email outreach is still the best way to direct people to your amazing content and get them to link to it.

I will go into detail in a future article about how to find those link prospects (and how to write the perfect outreach email), but for now lets assume you have a list of 50 sites that are a good fit and might want to link to your content.

Go ahead and write a personal email to each of those sites/webmasters, point them to the content and ask them for a link. You might not get a response from half of them. You will definitely get a few nos. But I guarantee you that if your content is truly the best fit for a given query, then you will get links and more importantly, they will be strong, authority building links which will rocket your site/page up the rankings.

Remember, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

And if you can get a few links in the right places… then they will almost certainly lead to further links…

Before you know it, your webpage will be sitting at number 1 for your target query and, as you deserve to be there, and have picked up strong, editorial links you can expect to stay there.

Just keep an eye on the competition though, keep improving and ensure your webpage continues to be the best match for the query!


The days of ‘tricking’ google into ranking pages are (finally) over and to build your traffic you must offer a useful service/product/content which makes you stand out from the crowd.

The good news is that genuine excellence, expertise and hard work will now be rewarded more than ever.

So if you are looking on with envy at your competitors in those coveted top spots, then don’t think about how you can ‘outrank’ them, think about how you can be better than them and I guarantee you the rankings will follow.

Over To You!

Do you agree with my article? As always, I’m interested to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please leave a comment below, drop me an email, tweet me or come to Starbucks and stalk me… the choice is yours!

Oh, and if you have found this post helpful, then please help spread the word by sharing it on twitter, facebook etc and don’t forget to subscribe by email for loads more actionable white hat SEO and internet marketing advice.

About the Author

I'm a web developer, programmer, blogger and SEO expert from Glasgow, Scotland, with over 15 years experience in the industry. When I'm not writing about marketing and SEO you'll find me strumming the guitar in my band or listening to Revolver on repeat. Follow me on twitter, connect with me on google+ and add us on facebook to keep up with all the latest trends in SEO and online marketing.

James H. - November 22, 2013

Ah, that’s why everyone is ready to stab their competitors for the number one slot! 33% of all clickthroughs compared to 18% at number two is a significant drop. The challenge is establishing yourself as an authority even when your niche already has top authoritative sites (like the main news sites, for example — Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc.).

Any thoughts on be able to compete with such giants?

    David McSweeney - November 23, 2013

    It’s a good question!

    I guess one thing that might work would be getting them to cite you (and link to you) in an article on the topic in some genuine press coverage – this way their authority is passing to you and if you can get a few of the big hitters, you might be able to outrank them (if that makes sense). You would probably need to employ a PR agency for this, unless you are lucky or can share something extremely newsworthy.

    It’s one of the reasons it is so important you establish yourself as an authority, you – want to become the ‘goto’ guy for press soundbites etc.

    More and more SERPs are getting dominated by big brands/media giants, so it’s a growing problem. I’ll have a good think about this and maybe put together a full post on it when I have some more comprehensive answers.

Brandon Bear - November 23, 2013

Totally agree with this — if your website doesn’t deserve to get the #1 spot… then ranking there is almost a waste… you’re basically hurting yourself by not having great or relevant content, because you’re only going to hurt your conversion rate that way.

I remember a while ago Ramsy Taplin (I think that’s his name) was ranking for a huge term by accident, bringing in like 10,000 visitors but they were completely untargeted and didn’t help his revenue/profit at all. So basically they were worthless.

Also — really like the new design of the blog — I was going to suggest making the header a bit smaller.. looks good.

    David McSweeney - November 23, 2013

    Will need to take a look into Ramsay’s story as that’s exactly the point I was making here.

    Glad you like the new design! I was sitting starting at the blog after writing up this post yesterday and thinking (like you)…. ‘man that header is too big’. I also wanted to clean it all up as I’m generally a less is more kind of guy when it comes to design. Changed the font too (to georgia) and made some subtle changes to the line spacing, which I think makes it more readable.

    I’m a compulsive tweaker as you’ll come to realise!

Neena - November 24, 2013

I absolutely agree. Think about it from the other side – when you do a search, you want the first result to be spot on. It is frustrating to find spun content in the top spot when what you are looking for is a real answer.

    David McSweeney - November 25, 2013

    Absolutely, and hopefully that will become less of an issue as search results improve

Jijin Mohan - November 24, 2013


Wonderful post! Well i think most of the websites/blog’s don’t deserve to be number as they don’t produce relevant content or doesn’t target readers. i totally agree with all your mentioned points regarding the first spot.

I believe link building works fine but totally depends on quality of links and what strategy is used!

Thanks for sharing.

    David McSweeney - November 25, 2013

    Thanks Jijin, glad you enjoyed it

Enstine Muki - November 29, 2013

Oh yes David you nailed it here
Those are top point questions if you answer yes, you surely deserve that most sought position and Yes, tricking Google now is a hard and dangerous thing to do. I think any black hat seo attempt is foundation for disaster.

Google in hummingbird is looking to reward the best content with position #1 on page #1

We should strive to give in out best to get the best from Google

Khaja Moin - November 29, 2013

Excellent writeup!

Why should I worry about No #1? should be your next post.

When you can do manythings with social media support. You can see how YouTube is increasing and Google’s importance to it.

I think you’re busy, if you don’t mind I will write up on this. 😉 Jokes apart, good job and all the best for your blog.


    David McSweeney - December 5, 2013

    Thanks Khaja, glad you enjoyed the post

David Ryan - November 29, 2013

Yes. Getting your blog into reaching the top spot can be tricky and requires hard work. You just have to know how to beat the same niches with higher ranking

Arthur Lee - November 30, 2013

I notice that on your posts you never seem to mention what keyword research you do. You seem to just get an idea of what people are interested in in terms of the niche product you are selling and then write big articles based on that feeling. With the logic being, you intend to capture a lot of longtails in the body of the article itself instead of targeting more specific keyword terms. Is this right? I ask because I can’t afford to pay the high fees that keyword research tools charge per month. I really believe in my niche but it is just the sense that if i just use googles keyword planner and ubersuggest i will have too little keyword research.

    David McSweeney - December 5, 2013

    That’s kind of right Arthur. I do keyword research to an extent, but I don’t get too hung up about it. Certainly I don’t really track performance of individual keywords and lose sleep about particular keywords and where I rank for them – what I worry about is traffic. I’ve always found that people search in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways and long tail is where is is at.

Bryan Knowlton - January 29, 2014

Hey David!

This is Bryan Knowlton over at the Daily Blogcast for Internet Marketing.

I just wanted to let you know we discussed your blog post on our show and would love if you could help get the word out to your readers!

Episode 041 – How I made $6,034.38 with Teespring, 26 Pinterest Tips, Does Your Website Deserve to be Number 1?

We found the article to be well written and decided to feature it in this episode. If you would like to provide any additional comments, you can do that directly at the bottom of the page listed above.

Since this is a Daily Podcast, we will definitely be visiting your blog from time to time to find more great articles to discuss. If you would like to leave us a comment, question or a voicemail, you can do that on the right side of the page.

Again, thank you for the blog post! Without it we might have not had much to talk about! 🙂

You can subscribe (or let your readers they can) at

Thanks again!

Bryan & Mark
Daily Blogcast for Internet Marketing – Because reading is hard…

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