One question that every website owner often asks is how to get to the top on Google. But then, it is not strictly black and white.
There are more than a few variables you need to take into consideration – such as competition, website authority, etc. – and in-depth research you need to carry out.
Let's take a look at extensive research that the Ahrefs team carried out to determine how to get on top Google search results.
The Ahrefs team took up to 2 million random keywords and then used them to pull data from the top 10 ranking pages on Google for every one of them to determine how old those top-ranking pages were.
The data analysis revealed that the average top 10 ranking page is more than 2 years old, while those that ranked at the very top – i.e. the first position – were nearly 3 years old on average.
The study also showed that the SERP (search engine results page) is dominated by seemingly ‘old’ pages. As a matter of fact, over 22 percent of pages that rank presently in the top 10 were created within a year.
Ahrefs then took a look at 2 million randomly selected pages first seen by their crawler about one year ago. They also monitored the position history of every page for any keyword that each page ranked for. What they found out was really eye-opening.
Rank in Google: What Does It Mean?
Google is the undisputed or uncontroversial champion in the world of search engines as it commands up to 92 percent of all universal online searches. Bing has 2.45 percent, and Yahoo has 1.82 percent while Baidu has 0.95 percent, all of which pale in comparison.
There is no doubt at all that Google is the best search engine today, and that is why it is essential to rank your website on this platform.
The Average Age of a Website that Ranks
The average age of the Top 10 ranking pages is 2+ years old while the pages that rank at position #1 are nearly 3 years old on average. It was also discovered that at least 22 percent of the pages that currently rank within the Top 10 were created within just 1 year.
Next, the Ahrefs team took a look at the percentage of pages at each ranking position that is at least 1 year old. By now, it is clear that the search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are dominated heavily by old pages.
Only 5.7 percent of all the pages that were studied ranked within 1 year for at least one keyword. They are also in the Top 10 search results. It was also observed that pages from sites with a high DR (Domain Rating) performed much better than those with low DR.
Now, when the 5.7 percent of those seemingly ‘lucky’ pages were brought under a microscope in order to determine how quickly they got from nowhere to the Top 10, it was discovered that most of the pages were able to attain their positions within 61 to 182 days.
Ahrefs re-calculated the numbers of based primarily on the monthly search volume of the keywords. And only 0.3 percent of the pages ranked in the top 10 for a high-volume keyword in less than 1 year.
Research has shown that a website owner can rank for low-volume keywords within a very short period while high-volume keywords can take up to 1 year to get right into the Top 10.
However, do not forget that this particular data applies only to the 5.7 percent of the supposedly lucky pages that ranked in the Top 10 in 1 year. The majority of the pages do not perform all that well.
How are Websites Ranked
There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to how to increase Google rank or how to improve rank in Google search. But the following factors play crucial roles in the ranking process:
The domain name of a live website that is less than 6 months is considered ‘new’ and therefore less reliable or trustworthy than an older site that has already been verified. New websites can still get ranked, especially for unique short-tail or long-tail keywords. However, rankings are much more likely to increase right after the 6-month window.
SEO (search engine optimization) ensures that your site becomes visible to Googlebots as well as other indexing programs. This includes other ranking stuff like titles, keywords, ALT image text, headings, etc.
Phrases or words that are often searched on Google and other search engines are generally very competitive. And websites that are more established in the industry usually have a good head start on website rank search.
If your website is new, it will become much easier to build rankings and trust via keywords with less competition before moving on to more popular searches.
Google’s algorithm is also innovatively designed to spot sites that try to cheat the system by using tricks such as purchasing inbound links or stuffing web content with keywords, etc.
These schemes usually work, but only for a time. When Google eventually catches on to such websites, they will be severely penalized.
The rankings will suffer and may not even appear when someone performs a website rank search until the problems are fixed or corrected. This can be an extremely lengthy and challenging process.
A clean domain is a site that has never been penalized by Google either by an algorithmic or manual penalty. But how then can you tell if your domain is clean? You can do this in 2 distinct ways:
#1 Method: Login right into Google webmaster tools and then click on a particular website. This specific action will take you to the dashboard where you get to select the 'Manual Actions' from the Search Traffic menu. If a message pops up ‘No manual webspam actions found,’ then it simply implies that this particular website does not have any manual penalties in any way.
#2 Method: This method enables you to check for any algorithmic penalties. The best or most efficient way that you can go about this is to log into Google Analytics - or any other analytics tool you may be utilizing - and navigate to the traffic sources report.
Next, select Google as the source of traffic and then set the date range from the beginning of the year. Watch out for drastic changes in traffic and then compare the dates the changes occur with the Google algorithm change history.
Do you see any connection between the dates Google rolled out changes and the dates you lost traffic? It merely means that your website was penalized. You should, therefore, start working hard on your recovery, though this depends significantly on the changes Google put in place.
It is nothing but a waste of time to try ranking for any term in Google if your domain is not clean. This is because the penalty imposed on your website will not permit you to do so. The best way to go over this hurdle is to, first of all, clean your domain or start right from the beginning with a new domain. And you already know how long it will take for the new site to get any website rank search.
Search Engine Optimized Titles
Many webmasters do not know this or choose to ignore it. But the simple truth is that search engine optimized titles are much more critical than is believed initially.
If you are a webmaster with a relatively new site, few incoming links to your site, and a not-so-strong author profile, churning out the best content week after week with the wrong title will do more harm than good. You will not rank at all, especially in the long term.
If you have a strong website and profile, it is possible to rank for titles that are not optimized within a short time. If this is not the case, however, you will need to be a little more selective when choosing titles to enable you to get much better results next time.
Google bots are also designed to recognize characteristics such as how often you publish new content, whether or not the content is well-researched and original, and the overall quality as well as the length of your posts.
The regular addition of new and original as well as high-quality content to your webpages will keep search bots looking intently at your page, thereby leading to much higher rankings over time.
One vital factor that also plays a crucial role in how to increase Google rank or how to improve rank in Google search is the type of content you post on your website. Breaking news stories will definitely rank faster than stories that are not at all considered news.
For instance, a story about the possibility of a war episode in North Korea or the Middle East will appear faster in the top positions than any other story about keto diet or food allergies, etc.
And of course, the new picture of a newborn in the British Royal Family will hit the top spot faster than that image you are uploading to jazz up your new blog post.
Another factor that determines how to get on top Google search results is the length of your content. However, this is an indirect ranking factor. An in-depth, well-researched article about a particular top has much more chances of ranking than a shorter one with the same title. And why is this so?
It is because long articles tend to get the attention of bloggers. And they may receive mentions (likes and shares) in social media platforms or backlinks. The buzz that is generated as a result will shorten the time it will take in order to get noticed by Google’s algorithm.
SEO is Vital, Though it Takes a Lot of Time
Both on-page and off-page SEO play crucial roles when it comes to how to be top in Google search. It works for ranking new websites or posts and also impacts how long it takes to rank.
SEO can take a very long time to work; however, it is the only proven way if what you are looking for is how to improve rank in Google search. The vitally important SEO factors that can accelerate the process include:
How often you publish fresh content: The frequency you churn out fresh content can impact the time required to rank a new page on Google.
Let's say you have a pretty steady schedule of posting original content 2-5 times per week. It is highly likely that your post or content will be indexed almost immediately. However, in cases where you don’t publish fresh content daily, it may take at least 1 day for search engines to notice or find out about it.
Please take note that indexing is not equal to ranking, but it is an excellent step towards ranking.
The number of links or external references: A new page/post that receives several links naturally because it is considered incredibly important, valuable, and useful will readily climb up the search engine ranking pages faster.
As you can see, no definite answer or straight-up method of how to get on top Google search results exists. What has been established is that nearly 95 percent of newly-published web pages do not get to the first 10 website rank search on Google within a year.
A few lucky ones may slip through and rank within 2-6 months, but that is after taking note of and following the factors and strategies on how to improve rank in Google search. So, they cannot really be considered ‘lucky’ but an excellent application of the knowledge of SEO.
So, did Ahrefs provide a definite answer to this particular question about how long it will take a website to the top of Google? The answer is ‘No.’ But then, you already know that nearly 95 percent of those newly created pages you see will not rise to the top of search engines in 1 year.
And your webpage has a much better chance of rising high and ranking to the top if you target low-volume keywords than if you targeted high-volume keywords.