After you build my website, can you list it on the Home Page of Google?
I sometimes hear this when creating a first-time website for typically more mature entities who have been resistant to new technology. Much to their credit, they've determined that having a website for your business or service today is what having a listing in the Yellow Pages meant a generation ago. This is how you get found.
Reminds me of an old joke:
Where do you hide a dead body that you don't want found?
On page 2 of a Google Search Result.
The answer to being the first Google Result?
"How much money do you have?"
Just kidding, sort-of. The good news is you have some options and control for driving your website's search rankings.
Before we cover the basics, let's take a look at the anatomy of a Google Search Results Page.
Anatomy of a Google Search Result for the term "laptop computer":
The first things we naturally notice are the top results. If you look at the indicator on the website line for each result, you'll see that these are Ads. Ads from companies in the Computer industry who have a big reputation and therefore a lot of buying power - Intel, Microsoft, Staples, Office Depot.
Just under those, Best Buy and Walmart are at the top of what I call the organic section of the list. This portion is driven by site maturity, volume /number of users, activity and active content, and keywords and items related to "laptop computer". This makes sense because these are two of the biggest "laptop computer" sellers in the country.
Finally, the right panel of the pages displays shopping results. Essentially, if you are doing a google search for what might obviously be a Product, you'll see items in this Shopping grid. These are are also effectively paid ads; they happen to be product specific.
DOUBLE-EDGED PRO TIP:
Did you know that you can opt out of this shopping section altogether, if you don't like seeing it as a user? Click on the Information "i" of the sponsored shopping results to see your options.
But you don't want potential customers opting out, if you're sponsoring a shopping item result!
Back to getting your website to the top of a Google Search Result.
You can Pay....
The quickest and easiest way to get on page 1 of Google for a particular keyword is to advertise. Sign up with Google, choose the keywords you would like to target, define how much you would like to pay every time your ad is clicked. This is "pay-per-click bidding". The higher you bid -per click- the higher your ad will appear in search results related to your keywords.
You can also set a daily budget so when your budget is met, Google will not show your ad any more that day. It won't be clicked on and you won't be charged, and the whole cycle repeats the next day. This is an economical approach to advertise and land on Google's first page.
Or you can work your way to it.
The other way to get on page 1 of Google and other search engines is the organic, or natural, method. From the Google search result image above, examples of these are Best Buy and Walmart. These results cannot be achieved by paying money to Google - they are achieved with careful and longterm evolution of many factors that Google uses when ranking relevancy. Just as with sports or school - if you work hard, keep things current, and provide useful information - your website's reputation will rise in the mysterious rankings of the Google Algorithm Genies.
These are the top general factors that helps grade your website's relevancy to search keywords - and as a result, where your website would rank on a Google Search Result page for those keywords:
Keep in mind also, just because you rank well for one keyword or key phrase does not mean you will rank well for a similar keyword or phrase. Google is constantly updating their algorithms, so today's rankings may vary from those of tomorrow. Your website will move up and down in the rankings naturally.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
This information is pretty generalized, but should give you an idea of the factors responsible for your website's appearance in Search Engine Results. As your business changes, so does the need for your keywords and other website metadata to be updated.
Of course if this is more maintenance than you plan to devote to your website, there are a number of SEO or Website Developer consultants who can arrange a routine SEO management effort to keep your site's background data current!