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This is what happens when you rank #1 on Google

September 17, 2019
Posted in SEO
September 17, 2019 Brett Farmiloe

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Ranking #1 for a keyword on Google either helps, hinders, or is indifferent to your business.

Our SEO company ranks #1 on Google for several keywords, and so do our clients. In this post, I’ll illustrate the different scenarios of being ranked #1 on a search engine.

rank number one on google

The Dream: How Ranking #1 on Google Helps Business

A few years ago our company began to rank on the first page of search results for the term “digital marketing company.”

At the time, I was a freelance marketing consultant working in basketball shorts from my kitchen. And even though I’m writing this article still in basketball shorts from my kitchen, the difference is that I’m now the CEO of a seven figure marketing agency with clients on 4 continents.

Being #1 on Google helped make that transformation for myself and our business.

In this scenario, ranking #1 on Google is the dream. We know that the term “digital marketing company” is going to be searched thousands of times on search engines each month. We know that a first page search ranking will drive qualified visitors to our website. A certain percentage of those visitors will inquire about our services. And then, a certain percentage of leads will convert into customers.

This repeatable process is a wonderful and sustainable way to grow a business. It’s the positive that everyone, us included, wants from a #1 search ranking.

digital marketing company markitors

Slightly Annoying: How Being #1 on Google Hinders Business

There are times when ranking #1 on Google hinders business. Let me give you an example.

At the time of this writing, we rank #1 for the term “my instagram account is gone.” One of our team members wrote a blog post about it after having experienced this tragedy for herself.

Now, as a result of ranking #1, our company has become a ragtag Instagram help center for people around the world who realized their Instagram account is no longer in existence. We receive live chats and emails from alarmed people who just need someone to help them. 

Being nice, we help these people. But as you can imagine, this is an instance where ranking #1 for a search term actually hinders our business. We devote time and resources to people who will likely not become a customer.

Besides time, websites also need server resources to support traffic being sent to their site. This requires businesses to invest more in bandwidth and hosting so that regular customers don’t experience slow website load times or visit a website that has crashed due to high traffic activity.

That’s the negative of ranking #1 on Google. If the keyword you rank #1 for doesn’t drive value for your business, the ranking will have an adverse ROI.

why ranking number one can hinder business

Side Note: Kind of crazy that we outrank Instagram for this term. 

Underwhelming: How Being #1 on Google Has Little Impact

Sometimes, a business doesn’t feel the impact of being #1 on Google. This can be for a variety of reasons.

The keyword with a #1 ranking can have a low search volume. For example, we rank #1 for the term “email marketing audit.” But, this keyword is only searched 20 times per month. We may get 3-5 visits per month from this keyword, and we’d only expect to receive 1 inquiry every 2-3 months. We’d also expect to get 1 customer for every 3 inquiries, meaning that this keyword word produce 1 customer every 6-9 months.

Pretty underwhelming given our price of an audit.

number one search ranking

Another case is ranking #1 within Google’s “Answer Box” feature. For example, the term “mailchimp crm integrations” will likely show Google’s Answer Box with a snippet and link from our Mailchimp CRM blog post. This keyword has more search volume, but since Google is answering a user’s question with information from our website, it lowers the likelihood that a user will visit our website to get the same information.

Again, very little impact. And that’s just sometimes how it is when you rank #1 on Google. Not a lot happens.

How To Have a Positive Outcome When You Rank Number One On Google

So there’s the good, the bad, and the “meh” of ranking #1 on Google. What can you do to ensure you have a positive outcome when ranking #1?

Start by developing a list of search terms and taking a quantitative approach to keyword research. Identify keyword monthly search volumes (to measure the impact of a #1 ranking), ranking difficulties (to see if you have a shot at ranking #1), and average cost per click (in case running a Google Ads campaign would be cheaper than an SEO campaign).

Then, do a qualitative assessment of your keywords. Ask yourself, “What would it mean for my business if I ranked #1 on Google for this keyword?” Would it be good? Bad? Minimal?

Finally, see what the search result page looks like now for the #1 ranking. Is it populated with ads? Local results? Answer box dropdowns? A featured snippet?

Deriving positive value from a #1 search ranking all starts with strategy. Select the right keywords, devise a plan to rank for those keywords, and then you can see for yourself what happens to your business when you rank #1 on Google.

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Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe

Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company voted a best place to work 3 years in a row. He frequently contributes content about SEO, Careers, and Culture to Forbes, SHRM, Thunderbird, Huffington Post, Mashable, TIME, NextWeb, and more. And, as a dad of 3, he's about that minivan life.