Can You Buy Your Way to the First Page on Google Search?

Can you buy your way to the first page of Google search results, or even the first position?

I get cold calls regularly from people who claim they can do just that for a small recurring fee. Sounds intriguing. But is there any truth to it? (Ranking first for your company name doesn’t really count.)

There obviously is a way to get listed first in Google search for money. It’s called Google Ads (formerly Adwords). That’s the paid advertisements that you see at the top of your Google search results. If you’re willing to pay the highest price per click for your chosen keywords and your website is deemed relevant and useful to users by the Google search algorithm, then you have a pretty good chance of being able to snag the first position in the search results.

Being at the top of the page could equal a big payoff, or it could wipe out your bank account. It all depends on how much you stand to earn per sale and how big your ad budget is. But clearly, buying that top paid position for the right price is a pretty good possibility.

But how about organic search?

Can you buy your way to the top of the Google organic search results?

The simple answer is no.

Google doesn’t sell positions in organic search results. They wouldn’t be very “organic” if you could buy them, would they?

The way to climb the ladder to the top of organic search results is via SEO – search engine optimization – which according to Google is a combination of lots of factors with the main one being superior content that gives value to the reader along with an awesome user experience. And lots of high quality links that point to your content pages.

Can money buy great content and SEO?

It sure can.

With the right budget you can hire writers to create a steady stream of new content around your keywords. You can also hire a marketing team to share that content on social media and anywhere else your target prospects might be. They can form relationships with influential bloggers who might then let you publish a guest post or 2 and reach a new, huge target audience.

Large companies have the resources to do all of that and more. Many of them are. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t compete in your own niche, as long as you can refine the parameters of that niche. You probably won’t be able to compete for a keyword like “shoes”, but you do have a good chance of competing for “shoes in Smithtown, PA” (insert your own town, county, area, zipcode etc).

No matter how narrow you target, you still need good, optimized content on your website or blog to get Google’s attention and love. You also need to share that content to spread the word and possibly get inbound links. If you can do all of that on your own or in-house, go for it!

Most small and midsized business don’t have the expertise in-house, and they aren’t willing or able to invest in full time talent. That’s where digital marketing agencies come in. We can create your content, do your SEO and social media marketing for much less than it would cost you to do it in-house.

So, can you buy your way to the first page in Google? By investing in superior content, SEO and social media marketing, you’ve got a good fighting chance.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your website to attract more visitors and generate more leads, contact us now.

13 Ways to Generate More Leads on Your Website

Websites used to primarily be online brochures. Many websites still are. And they aren’t even attractive to look at. What a waste!

Your website should be one of your most effective lead generating tools.


If you aren’t generating leads with your website, then you’re basically leaving money on the table. It’s comparable to having a store with no salespeople, so that when shoppers come in and want to buy something…they have no way to do so!

We’ve created a list of 13 ways for you to capture more leads on your website. Some of them might require the help of a designer or developer.  If you’ve got some design and web development skills, or if your website is built with WordPress, you can try making the changes on your own.

We’ve divided the list into 3 parts: SEO, Design and Content.




SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your content visible to search engines. Search engines look for various signals to determine what your content is about and whether it’s worth showing to search users. It’s up to the content creator to insert the right signals for search engines to process.

In this report we’ll be focusing on On-Page SEO — which include the things you can to your existing content right now to make it search engine friendly. The more people who find your site via search, the more visitors you’ll drive to your website and the more chances you’ll have of converting them into leads.

If you’re using WordPress for your website, there’s a great free plugin called Yoast-SEO that makes the On-Page SEO process much less complicated.

#1. Title Tags

Every piece of content you post on your website has 2 titles. One title is what you see displayed on the page. The other is contained in a piece of code or tag and is for search engines to process. It is one of the primary signals the search engine uses to determine what your page is about. It is also what is displayed in the search results.

The title that is displayed must grab your reader’s attention and convince them to continue reading. The search engine title (or title tag) needs to contain your keywords and be constructed in a way that makes it easily searchable. The title tag should describe what the page is about. It should answer a question that your target customer is searching for.

Let’s use your homepage as an example. Open up your homepage on your browser. Now hover over the browser tab. You should see your title tag. What does it say? If you’re like many website owners your homepage title tag might say, “home”, “welcome” or the name of your company. In fact, it might seem sensible to have your company name in your title tag, since it is your company website.

Now think about what potential leads are searching for. Are they typing in your company’s name into Google search? If they are then they’ll find you even if your name isn’t in your title tag. In any case, if they already know your name then they might not be the new lead you’re after.

What you should have in your title tag is a phrase that describes what you do or sell and that uses keywords you’ve identified as words people use to find your type of product or service. Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, so it’s best to keep your phrase within that length. If you have the space you could include your company name, or part of it, as a branding element.

You can always modify your title tag and optimize it based on ongoing testing and research.

Your title tag is located in the <head> section at the top of your html page code. If you don’t know where that is or how to change it, you’ll need a developer.

Remember, you should optimize the title tag on every page and post on your website (not just your homepage).

If you’d like to dive a little deeper into this subject, here are 2 great articles and tools:


#2. Title Tags

These are the short blurbs that appear beneath your title on search engine result pages (SERPs) that tell the searchers a bit about your page and convince them to click on your title and head over to your site. Although meta descriptions do not directly influence search engine rankings, they are important for getting your page link clicked on by the searcher. In addition, any keywords used in the search will be highlighted in your description on the SERP.

Think of your meta descriptions as teaser copy, whose purpose is to pique the reader’s interest enough to make them want to read more (on your website). Your homepage meta description should clearly describe what you offer and why the searcher should want to use you.



#3. Keyword Usage

In SEO, keywords are the words and phrases that users type into search engines to find what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking to purchase airline tickets you might type “airline tickets”. You might also include your destination – “airline tickets to boston”. Or maybe, “cheap airline tickets to boston”. Each individual word is a keyword, and each individual phrase is a keyword phrase. Before creating your content you should identify the keywords you are targeting to reach your potential customer.

Then use your keyword in your content, which shouldn’t be difficult since it does represent your main focus. But don’t overuse it (known as stuffing) or just stick it in out of context. That can cause the search engine to view you as a spammer (bad, very bad).

Read more about keyword research here.


#4. Image Alt Tags

Every image on your website has an HTML coding tag called an Alt tag that contains text that will be displayed in the event that the image doesn’t show. Since search engines cannot read images, they rely on the Alt tags to determine what the message of the image is. You should fill every Alt tag with descriptive text, preferably containing one of your keywords, to have a better chance of getting found by search engines.


#5. Internal Linking

Search engines use programs called spiders to crawl the pages of websites and add them to their indexes. Linking content to other content within the same website helps these spiders  find and index all of your pages.


#6. Descriptive URLs

Search engines use URLs to find relevant content. Therefore the URLs, or web addresses, of your web pages should include your keywords and be descriptive of your content. Most content management systems, including WordPress, allow you to edit your URLs, so you can tailor them to your content.



how much does blogging cost

Counting pennies

You have just seconds to capture the attention of a visitor to your website. If they don’t like what they see or have trouble seeing it they’ll bounce to the next site (possible your competitors) in a flash. The look and design of your website plays a huge role in gaining the trust of your potential customer and establishing your authority and professionalism.

Think about the last time you visited a website that was poorly designed and looked like it was thrown together by a high school kid at recess. Did you feel confident about giving them your credit card number or doing business with them? Didn’t think so.

On the flip side, over designing your site could make it difficult to use and slow to download.

For our discussion, we’ll assume that you have a reasonably professional website design. Here’s how you can increase your probability of retaining your visitors so that you can eventually convert them into leads:


#7. Navigation

Visitors to your site want to find the information they are seeking as quickly as possible. If they can’t find it, or if it takes too long, they’ll find it on someone else’s site. Your website’s navigation bar should be clearly visible. If it’s hard to find or if it blends into the page to the point where it’s difficult to see, you must fix it. The easier you make it for visitors to navigate your site, the longer they’ll stay on it and the more likely they’ll be to become leads.

Your website navigation should contain the 5 or 6 main category pages. Subcategory pages should fall under one of the main categories. For example, assuming that you offer eight different services, you should probably have a general “service” navigation link which would then open the 8 specific service links. Having too many primary navigation links is messy looking and confusing.


#8. Pop Up Windows

Do you hate it when you go to a website and immediately get a popup window in your face? Most people do. It’s annoying. In addition, many browsers have popup blockers. If you have something important to say, then say it directly on your page. Pop Ups are a nuisance. The only time they can be used is as a way to ask someone to join your email list as they’re leaving your site. There are plugins like appsumo that provide that feature.


#9. Auto Start

Audio or video that starts playing automatically when you open a web page is even more annoying than a pop up window. Just imagine you’re sitting at your desk surrounded by dozens of co-workers quietly at work. You click over to a certain website and suddenly…the silence is shattered by the sound of a video. At this point you couldn’t care less what the voice is saying. All you want to do is make it stop, and the quickest way to do that is to close the page. Bye bye lead.


#10 Sliders

A slider rotates images and texts at regular intervals. They’re usually located on the top half of a homepage and rotate through 3 or more slides. Most clients love having them on their websites because they look super cool. The question is: do sliders help generate more leads?

We don’t think so.

  1. Sliders can slow down your page speed. Downloading several images (usually large ones) takes longer than downloading a single image. And as we already mentioned, how fast your site downloads can determine whether your visitor sticks around to learn more about you or leaves to learn more about your competition.
  2. Sliders can distract visitors from doing what you want them to do: learn about your company and fill out a contact form. Do you want your visitor to sit there looking at rotating images, or do you want them to read your content so that they can make the decision to contact you?
  3. Most people don’t wait around to view all of the images on your slider anyway, so why slow down your site and add distraction?
  4. They don’t look good on mobile devices, which is where at least half of your visitors will be viewing your website.


Unless you can prove that a slider will not slow down and actually help your retention rates, get rid of it.

A great way to test the speed of your website is with the free Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Just type your URL in the search box and it’ll give you a score for desktop and mobile. It will also give recommend things you can do to improve your score.




#11. Readable

Make your content easy to read. Use a font size of at least 11pt. And leave plenty of white space around your text. Break your content into short paragraphs, which are easier to read than long blocks of text. If your text is too small and difficult to read, most people won’t.


#12. Make Lists

Research has proven that readers like lists, especially when they’re reading off of a screen. Short attention spans make it imperative for you to find a way to get you reader to stick around and read. Lists draw reader’s eyes by breaking up content into visibly digestible snippets of information. So break up that long paragraph of pointers or suggestions into a list, and keep your readers engaged.


#13. Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is an instruction to a reader to take a specific action. The action could be downloading an ebook, subscribing to a blog, submitting a contact form or making a phone call. Every page, article or post on your website should contain a call to action. The CTA could be at the beginning, middle or end of the page. It could be in your header, footer or sidebar. You should test to see what location works best.

Your call to action advises the visitor who likes your content what the next step is that he should take. A popular method is to offer a visitor something of value, like an ebook, in exchange for his email address or whatever contact info you ask for. You can also ask him to subscribe to your blog or newsletter in order to receive updates and special offers.

The simplest call to action is to prominently display your phone number and ask the visitor to “call me”. If they do, you’ve done better than generate a lead. You’ve got yourself a hot sales prospect. Since not every visitor is ready to engage in that sales call right off the bat, you need to capture their information and nurture your new lead through your sales funnel until they are ready for a sales call.

Next Step

If you’re looking to generate more leads on your website (who isn’t?), then optimizing your website by implementing the 13 suggestions we’ve explained in this post is definitely a great start. You need to combine great design, coding, content and SEO to turn your website into an effective lead generation tool.

If you need help doing any of this, or all of it, please contact us.

3 Basic SEO Techniques to Help Your Content Rank Higher

Creating useful and informative content is probably the most important factor in getting Google and other major search engines to find and rank your website in the top portion of their search results. Content is definitely still king.

But great content alone isn’t enough. It’s possible to have the most amazing piece of content and still not rank for it, without applying some basic SEO techniques that attract search engines.

Here are 3 basic SEO techniques that you can apply right now to help get your content noticed by search engines and potential customers:

1. Keyword Research
Search engines don’t read content the way humans do. They search for keywords which they use to determine what the content is about. Therefore, choosing the right keywords to use in your content can determine what search results that content will be included in.

The first step in creating a piece of search engine optimized content is to decide on a keyword or keyword phrase to target. Ideally, the keyword phrase you are targeting should be something that a significant number of people are searching for on a regular basis. A great free tool to use for keyword research is the Keyword Planner tool that is part of Google Adwords (you need an adwords account to access the tool). With the Adwords Keyword Planner tool you can search for keyword ideas or for search volume on the keywords you enter.

If you own a small chain of furniture stores, you logically want to target the keyword “furniture”. Chances are, however, that huge furniture sellers are already ranking very highly for that word and they have the resources to continue doing so. So instead of focusing on the word, you want to add a bit more detail to your keyword phrase that differentiates you from the bigger competition and positions you in a more specialized niche. For example, if your stores are located in a particular city or county or zip code, you could add that to furniture to create a phrase like “furniture in Teaneck 07666” or “furniture store in Bergen County NJ”. You’ve got a much better chance at reaching page 1 of Google search for your keywords by narrowing down your keyword phrases to more directly target your specific market or niche.

2. Build Content
Once you’ve decided on your keyword phrase, you can write your content around that phrase. You should try to use your keyword phrase a few times in your content piece especially at the beginning. But make sure you’re using your phrase naturally, in context. Trying to use your keyword too much can get you flagged by Google for something called “stuffing”, which means exactly how it sounds — stuffing keywords in a paragraph solely for SEO purposes.

Here’s a “stuffing” example, using our furniture store case:
Smith and Jones Furniture if a furniture store in Bergen County, NJ. We are the only furniture store in Bergen County, NY that sells furniture that is made in the USA. We take great pride in our Bergen County, NJ furniture store, and do our best to serve the Bergen County community with all of their furniture needs.

Do you get the idea? Besides getting penalized, most people are smart enough to notice this type of crappy writing and get turned off by you and your product. I know I do.

Google’s search algorithms are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between real content that is there to inform and low quality content that is there only to fool them. Don’t be nailed for “stuffing”. Use your keyword phrases, but make sure they are in context. You can then use related words to reinforce your keyword phrases and to help Google put your content into proper context.

Writing search engine optimized content that is both user friendly and search engine friendly takes effort and skill. If you can’t do it on your own, find someone who can (contact us!).

3. Title Tag
Web pages are made up of HTML code. If you right click on any web page you’ll see an option called “view source”. Click on that and you’ll see a page of code. That’s the html code that creates the web page. HTML code is made of things called “tag”. One of these is the title tag and looks like this . Between these opening and closing title tags goes…you guessed it: the title.

The title of your page is what gets displayed in search results. If you hover your mouse pointer over the page tab you should see the title appear. The page title is one of the primary things that search engines use to determine what your page is about. It is a very valuable piece of SEO property that you don’t want to waste.

Many companies waste that valuable SEO real estate by either putting their company name in the title or something like “home” or “welcome to xyz company”. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your company name in the title tag (as long as it isn’t too long”. But more importantly, your title tag should contain the keywords you are targeting. So the title of Smith and Jones Furniture stores should contain . You can have about 55 characters in your title tag, so you could add some more keywords or even Smith and Jones. But make sure to include your keywords in your title tag.

There’s obviously a lot more that goes into getting your content to rank highly in search engine results. But if you choose the right keywords, create a well written post around those keywords that provides readers with valuable information, and include a unique title that uses your keywords, you’ve got a good chance of convincing the search engines to give you some love.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your website to attract more visitors and generate more leads, download our Free Ebook – 13 Ways to Generate More Leads on Your Website.

7 On-Page SEO Techniques You Should Implement ASAP

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of making content as accessible and attractive to search engines as possible so that the content gets found, indexed and ranked as high as possible on the search result pages.

On-Page SEO refers to optimization done directly on the respective page of content as opposed to external link building, which takes place on other websites and is important for obtaining high PageRank and placement in search results.

On Page SEO includes:

1. Keyword Research
In SEO, keywords are the words and phrases that users type into search engines to find what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking to purchase airline tickets you might type “airline tickets”. You might also include your destination – “airline tickets to boston”. Or maybe, “cheap airline tickets to boston”. Each individual word is a keyword, and each individual phrase is a keyword phrase. When creating your content you need to identify what keywords you are targeting to make sure you are reaching the right potential customer.

2. Titles
There are really two titles to every article or post. One is for your reader to see and one is for the search engine to digest. The title for your reader must grab their attention and convince them to continue reading. The search engine title (or title tag) needs to contain your keywords and be constructed in a way that makes it easily searchable. Keyword placement within the title tag can also play a role.

3. Meta Descriptions
These are the short blurbs that appear beneath your title on search engine result pages (SERPs) that tell the searchers a bit about your page and convince them to click on your title or move on to the next search result. Although meta descriptions do not directly influence search engine rankings, they are important for getting your page link clicked on by the searcher. In addition, any keywords used in the search will be highlighted in your description on the SERP.

4. Keyword Usage
You need to use your keyword in your content, which shouldn’t be difficult since it does represent your main focus. But don’t overuse it (known as stuffing) or just stick it in out of context. That can cause the search engine to view you as a spammer (bad, very bad).

5. Image Alt Tags
An HTML coding tag that describes your image, allowing it to be read by the search engine.

6. Internal Linking
Linking content within your site. This helps search engines navigate through your entire site and might also help page rank.

7. Duplicate Content
Something you want to stay away from, because it could possibly cause Google to penalize you. This is a complicated subject, but the best way to go is to avoid duplicate content altogether.

On-Page SEO is just one part of a comprehensive SEO and Content Marketing strategy. To learn more about how we can help you with your SEO, please contact us today.

Use Incognito or Private Searching to Get True Search Rankings

Here’s an embarrassing incident I’m willing to share with you in order to teach an important lesson. Some years back I was working hard to get one of my blogs to rank higher in the Google search results. I was just learning about SEO and the blog was only a few weeks old, so you can imagine my joy and surprise when the blog showed up among the top four or five search results for a particular keyword I queried. I made sure to tell the good news to a friend but strangely, when he typed in the same exact query my blog didn’t show up at all (at least not on the first few pages). Egg on my face! What had I done wrong?

It didn’t take me too long to discover that Google was personalizing my search results based on my search history. How the heck could they do that? Well, I was signed into Gmail, which means I was signed into Google and allowing them to track my searches and serve me advertising based on my emails and queries. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. In fact I find it helpful at times to see an ad or result which just happens to relate to what I’m thinking about at the moment. But when it comes to checking your search ranking, personalization will make you feel really happy for a moment until you realize that you’re probably the only one seeing you’re website on the first page of the search results.

I see this happen so often, and not just to “amateurs.” Just recently I read a sales pitch by an internet marketer which challenged you to Google a particular keyword and watch his company rank #1. I took the challenge and scanned the first few pages of search results, but his company wasn’t there. Hmm. It’s possible that the pitch was dated and that at some point in the past his company actually was #1 for the keyword. My suspicion is that he was searching for his company on his own computer, which explains the top ranking.

You’ve got a few of choices to avoiding the personalization issue:

1. Sign out of all of your Google accounts, including gmail.

2. Open a Incognito window (chrome) or Private Browsing session (Safari) to browse in blissful anonymity.

3. You can also erase your Google search history and disable personalized results, but I wouldn’t recommend this route because you sometimes do want personalized results, and the first 2 options are much easier to implement.

If you have any questions about this post or anything else related to SEO or Content Marketing, please contact us. And if you have a friend who you think might benefit from reading this post, please share!

5 Outdated SEO Techniques You Should Avoid

If you’ve got a business you probably get sales pitches from companies offering SEO packages for a low one time or monthly fee that promise to get your site ranking at the top of Google search results.

Sounds great, but if you take a closer look at what exactly they’re offering, you’ll realize that while the SEO techniques they offer to perform did have value years ago, as a result of recent search engine algorithm updates they are obsolete and might even be harmful to your current ranking.

Here are 5 SEO techniques offered by SEO companies that are either useless or harmful to your ranking in major search engines, particularly Google:


No such thing anymore, at least not for Google, Bing and any of the other major search engines. Search engines have things called robots that crawl the web and index web pages. When you publish a new page it usually gets indexed within a couple of days, although it could take a bit longer. There’s no need to manually submit, unless you want to make sure that your page gets indexed within hours of publishing. In that case Google Webmaster Tools gives you the ability to submit up to 500 pages per month. Why would you want to pay for something that happens automatically, for free?

Alternative: Submit your URL to relevant online directories. The link might help your SEO, but more importantly, it will give you the opportunity to be found by potential clients and customers.


SEO companies offer to create articles for you, filled with links pointing back to your site  and submit them to article directories that rank high in search results because of their mass of content. This would theoretically boost your PageRank by providing you with valuable links to your site. This technique was a winner, until Google’s Panda algorithm update brought it crashing down by decimating the rankings of these “content farms” and even penalizing sites with too many links coming from them. In the post-Panda world, article submission to content farms is either practically useless or can possibly penalize your site. Stay away.

Alternative: Contact relevant blogs and ask if they accept guest posts. If they do, write an awesome post that includes one or two links to your site and send it to them. Besides getting a link or two on their site, you get exposure to their audience — which could mean new clients for you!


Link building is an important SEO technique to increase PageRank. Unless those links are relevant to your site, they won’t do any good thanks to the Google Penguin update. Links on spam sites created solely for the purpose of housing links, which include many web directories and link exchanges, can harm your ranking.

Alternative: Create great content that people want to link to, cultivate relationships with other sites and bloggers who might link to you, and share your content on social media to increase exposure.


SEO companies will offer to place comments on forums and blogs with a link to your site as a way of getting more external links. Unfortunately, in most cases these comments will be spam and will most likely be deleted by the webmaster or blog owner. I personally delete lots of these obviously spammy comments on my blogs.

Alternative: Commenting and participating in relevant forums is a great way to build relationships and authority, and to drive traffic to your site. Additionally, setting up your own blog and engaging your readers through commenting seems to be quite a good way to build traffic to your site. Here is a great, data-based read about the topic – Do Comments Actually Increase Your Search Traffic? A Data-Driven Answer.


In the old days SEO companies would take a bunch of keywords and stuff them in a blog post. It didn’t matter if the post was readable or comprehensible by human beings. It didn’t have to make sense. It just had to get indexed and ranked by search engines. After Google’s Panda updated that doesn’t work anymore. Content has to be well written and make sense. It can’t be mass produced by a machine or some low paid worker in a foreign land. If it is it might be labelled (rightly so) as spam and incur a penalty.

The bottom line is that producing junk content on your site will ruin your credibility and reputation, and probably end up hurting your business. Stay away from promises of content creation for a pittance. You’ll get what you pay for.

Alternative: Create high quality, original content that people want to read and link to. Now more than ever, “content is king”.

So when you get those too good to be true SEO sales pitches, take a closer look at what they’re offering and then decide if they really are worth the money they’re charging. A reputable SEO company will clearly explain their services and answer all of your questions honestly and knowledgeably.

Have you tried any other techniques to boost your SEO?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.