I recently read an article on ‘Google… Does anyone really know?’ [Link removed Feb 2016]. It was written by someone who had been frustrated when asking the same question – how do we get our website onto page one of Google for our products? – to a number of different search engine experts and were getting different answers from each of them.
I felt compelled to send the author a response with my own views as to why this is and thought it might be useful to show my reply here…
SEO really is about common sense and patience. Anyone who says they will get you onto page 1 of Google should really be treated with a barge-pole, especially if they make such claims without having first understood your website AND the search terms that are important to you – after all, no point being on page 1 for a search term that nobody will ever use.
I mention being patient because Google (and presumably other search engines) prefers websites that have been around for a while as this suggests longevity and reliability (although obviously it isn’t always a good indicator). I watched a video by the head of Google’s spam team some time ago and he indicated that a website’s position on a search results page was determined by a combination of a couple of hundred factors, some obviously carrying more weighting than others. They don’t change their fundamental policies very often, but they did change a couple of months ago to start favouring sites whose content changed regularly – so think regular blogging!
Your point about asking 5 accountants and getting 1 answer is fair enough, but don’t forget that the Inland Revenue publishes its rules to all and sundry, whereas Google tells noone what the mix of factors is that affects search engine results, so it’s bound to generate slightly different suggestions from each SE ‘expert’ you talk to.
I did run a pay-per-click Google adword campaign for a promotional gifts company in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, a few years ago, and this might be the way to go for you (especially in the short term whilst your page rank is being developed) as it delivers traffic very quickly (but at a price) to your site. Your seach terms will be very competitive though.