I have a friend who does marketing for small law firms, some of whom have been known to ask her to get them on page one of Google even though they have no Web site. She is very nice about it.
Depending on what you do, this is usually either easy or almost impossible. (Sometimes it's just hard, which is when things get interesting.) If you've defined your customer's needs and your own unique offering well enough, there's usually some phrase or collection of phrases that you can organically create a Google page-one result for.
There's another piece that you have to get right, though.
Page one is not enough
Think about your own searches. You type in a phrase and you get a page of results.
If you're searching on a topic covered by Wikipedia, it will be the first item. You either want Wikipedia or you don't. If you don't, notice how easily you tune it out to look for something that will help you.
Without thinking about it, you filter search results based on what you think will solve your problem. Looks kinda spammy? Discarded before you even think about it. Amazon results? Discarded--if you wanted a book on the topic, you would have searched Amazon in the first place. An e-commerce site? Discarded unless your question is "where can I buy this?"
In a split second, you unconsciously filter based on your own mental question, "What do I need and want?"
I have a number of phrases that I'm on page one of Google for, but it's almost never at the #1 or #2 spot. I'm often below the fold (that is, below the bottom of the screen), but hundreds of people click through to me anyway.
Why? Because I've learned how to set up my content to be the one site that attracts searcher after searcher to my listing.
How to get users to click through
Users will click through on a given search result anywhere from 10-100 times more often if you answer that question--"What do I need and want?"--in an effective and compelling way.
Google and other search engines exist to help people find information. All other things being equal (which they never are), if you answer the question, "how can I find out more about . . . " you'll attract the interest of the greatest number of searchers.
If those searchers click through to your site and find a nifty product to buy, nonprofit to contribute to, or organization to join, that's fine too. But you bring them through the door by promising to help them find out more.
You have a headline and about a sentence and a half to do this work, so keep it focused. Every character counts. Writing effective headlines is an art in itself. Brian Clark at Copyblogger has several excellent tutorial articles (here's one to get you started) on writing better headlines.
10 techniques to attract attention and draw users to your site
Remember, use these in your headline and in your first sentence or two to get the most impact. It's fine to combine them--in fact, it's smart.
- Offer a benefit, like Problogger does in its page title: "Blog tips to help you make money blogging"
- Propose a question your target searcher might ask, like "Want to know how to get on page one of Google?"
- Use "how to" in your headline or first sentence, like How to create symbols on your blog, Web site or Squidoo lens
- Spell out the information you're offering in ridiculously straightforward terms, like "Easy knitting patterns--tips for the beginning knitter
- Point to a potential problem. For the easy knitting patterns article above, the first few lines are "We all know that it's smart to start with easy knitting patterns when you're a beginner. But, frankly, how excited can you get about knitting acrylic potholders?"
- Suggest something that most searchers will want to do, like Encourage your preschooler to be a lifelong reader
- Offer a goodie, especially one tied to a benefit, like How to transform content and yourself into a profitable business: a free report
- Capitalize on insecurity, like Five grammatical errors that make you look dumb
- Be interesting. The first two sentences of Money for Entrepreneurs--the best of the Web are "Let’s talk about money, shall we? I mean, we’ve been doing that all week, but let’s get dirty about it." Would you click through to that? I would.
- Create a title that's a list of numbered items (like 10 ways to maximize your click-through). Everyone does it because it works.
(By the way, sometimes Google will point a user to a spot lower down on your page. Every time you use a header tag (H1s, H2s and H3s), ask yourself if you can use one of these techniques.)