In reality, there are so many perks online to improve Google results for your site to rank on position #1. Perse, if you get the lion’s share of the clicks, you’ll also bolster your PPC efforts. And you’ll be the first in line to garner more links. Then there is the revenue stream that comes from monetizing the traffic from that #1 result.
It’s no wonder, then, that an entire industry has grown around the ability to acquire #1 results in Google — or at least as close as you can get. To be #1, however, you need to know what Google wants and you need to give it what it wants better than anybody else.
That’s a tricky proposition, though, because Google has said repeatedly it examines 200+ factors in its ranking algorithm and makes changes to that algorithm. Mostly small, but some quite large — every single day.
How does a #1 Results Position look like in Google?
To learn what goes into a #1 results position, I chose 100 different keywords. And I also collected 24 different metrics to start getting an idea of what a #1 result looks like behind the curtain. In this post, I am going to break down the similarities and differences among #1 Google results.
For data gathering purposes, I used three main tools. The real workhorse for this study was the Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Whereby, I took advantage of Screaming Frog’s API integration capabilities and connected it to the Ahrefs API to gather link-related information.
Finally, I used Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for page speed scores. Once I gathered the data, I broke it down into six different category metrics.
These metrics measure:
- Display: The information based upon the way the #1 result looks on SERPs.
- Visibility: The sites that come up as #1 the most frequently.
- Backlinks: The number of backlinks and linking domains pointing at the #1 result.
- Page Speed: How long it took a page to render for the crawler, on desktop and mobile.
- Content: Content-related, such as word counts, text-to-code ratios, and page title length.
- Keyword: The information regarding the keywords I chose for this study.
Briefly, I chose these metrics above because I felt they encompassed factors from keyword difficulty to on-page and off-page information. As well as the way results present on the search engine result pages (SERPs), etc.
They’ll guide you more on how to improve Google results and increase your site ranking to a possible position #1. And for each metric, I’ll deliver a more detailed definition of the metric, as well as a range of data from high, to average, to low.
1. Display Metrics
Display metrics deal with the way a page is displayed in a search result. This will include metrics related to whether the #1 result was a featured snippet, featured sitelinks, and the like.
- 100% of #1 results were secure sites
- 98% of #1 results featured a meta description in the code
- 48% of #1 results featured an exact match keyword in the page title
- 41% of #1 results contained sitelinks
- 11% of #1 results were a featured snippet
- 11% of #1 results were homepages
- 5% of #1 results include rich snippets
2. Visibility Metrics
Visibility metrics measure the frequency with which some sites occupy the #1 result in Google. In my study, these sites came up the most frequently.
- Amazon: 16%
- Home Depot: 7%
- Dicks Sporting Goods: 2%
- Etsy: 2%
- Macy’s: 2%
- PetSmart: 2%
- Citrus Sleep: 2%
Collectively, these seven sites represented 33% of the #1 results I collected.
3. Backlink Metrics
For each #1 result, I examined its backlink profile to look for consistencies, and discrepancies, between different #1 results.
3.1. Domain Rank:
A site’s domain rank reflects the strength of a site’s backlink profile. In the study, domain rank for #1 results broke down like this.
- Highest Domain Rank – 96
- Mean Domain Rank – 70
- Lowest Domain Rank – 0
3.2. URL Rank:
A page’s URL rank reflects the strength of a page’s backlink profile. In the study, URL rank for #1 results broke down like this.
- Highest URL Rank – 55
- Mean URL Rank – 24
- Lowest URL Rank – 8
Backlinks are the number of total backlinks (dofollow and nofollow) that a #1 result has received.
- Highest Number of Backlinks – 33,211
- Mean Number of Backlinks – 918
- Lowest Number of Backlinks – 0
3.4. Dofollow Backlinks:
Dofollow backlinks measure the number of backlinks that pass a value that is used when calculating keyword rank.
- Highest Number of Dofollow Backlinks – 20,227
- Mean number of Dofollow Backlinks – 546
- Lowest Number of Dofollow Backlinks – 0
3.5. Nofollow Backlinks:
Nofollow backlinks measure the number of backlinks that do not pass the value used for calculating keyword rank.
- Highest Number of Nofollow Backlinks – 12,984
- Mean number of Nofollow Backlinks – 371
- Lowest Number of Nofollow Backlinks – 0
3.6. Referring Domains:
Referring domains are the total number of referring domains that are linking to the URL of a #1 result page.
- Highest Number of Referring Domains – 1,277
- Mean Number of Referring Domains – 81
- Lowest Number of Referring Domains – 0
3.7. Dofollow Referring Domains:
Dofollow domains measure the number of referring domains that are sending backlinks that pass value used for calculating keyword rank.
- Highest Number of Dofollow Referring Domains – 902
- Mean Number of Dofollow Referring Domains – 44
- Lowest Number of Referring Domains – 0
4. Page Speed Metrics
It’s been several years since Google announced that page speeds were being used as an organic ranking factor. For this set of metrics, I looked at page response time (in seconds) from the time the crawler hit the page until the page fully loads. As well as desktop and mobile page speed scores from Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
4.1. Response Time:
Response time measures how long it takes for a page to load.
- Highest Response Time – 8.638 seconds
- Mean Response Time – 0.879 seconds
- Lowest Response Time – 0.059 seconds
It’s worth noting that the eight pages with the lowest response times were all Amazon pages.
4.2. Desktop Speed Scores:
Desktop speed scores are the grades given by Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. A score of 50 to 100 is the best possible score here. While a score of 1 to 10 is the worst possible score.
- Highest Desktop Speed Score – 100
- Mean Desktop Speed Score – 68
- Lowest Desktop Speed Score – 21
4.3. Mobile Speed Scores:
Mobile speed scores are the grades given by Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Similarly, a score of 50 to 100 is the best possible score here. While a score of 1 to 10 is the worst possible score.
- Highest Mobile Speed Score – 100
- Mean Mobile Speed Score – 38
- Lowest Mobile Speed Score – 3
5. Content Metrics
One of the main idioms of SEO is that content is king. For that reason, I looked at several content metrics, as well. These include the length of the page title (both characters and pixels), the word count of the #1 result page, and the text-to-code ratio.
5.1. Page Title Length in Characters:
The recommended character length for page titles is 50-60 characters to ensure that page titles aren’t truncated on the SERP. It is not uncommon, though, to see page titles with as many as 80 characters.
- Longest Page Title in Characters – 90
- Mean Page Title Character Length – 45
- Shortest Page Title Character Length – 11
5.2. Page Title Length in Pixels:
Currently, Google allows page descriptions to be up to about 600 characters before it truncates them in the results.
- Longest Page Title in Pixels – 864
- Mean Page Title Character Pixels – 425
- Shortest Page Title Character Pixels – 114
5.3. Word Count:
Whenever it comes to improve Google results for site rankings, there is always debate about how long a page should be in terms of word count. Many SEOs swear by long-form content to lure links and rank well. Google maintains that content that effectively answers a search query can be any length. The metric, then, measures the number of words on each #1 result page.
- Highest Word Count – 9,718
- Mean Word Count – 1,967
- Lowest Word Count – 44
5.4. Text-to-Code Ratio:
As we improve Google results, the Text-to-code ratio measures the number of non-HTML characters in the HTML body tag on a page (e.g., the text). And then, divided by the total number of characters comprising the HTML page. After that, it’s displayed as a percentage.
- Highest Text-to-Code Ratio – 28%
- Mean Text-to-Code Ratio – 6%
- Lowest Text-to-Code Ratio – 0.19%
6. Keyword Metrics
Basically, in this case, I chose 100 keywords at random. And since I am looking at metrics of the resulting #1 pages, I thought it prudent to also share a little bit of aggregate information. In regards to the specialty of the keywords that I chose for this study.
6.1. Keyword Difficulty:
By all means, the keyword difficulty metric is calculated by combining the weighted average of the number of linking domains to the top-10 rankings pages. And then plotting them from 0 to 100 on a logarithmic scale.
- Highest Keyword Difficulty – 69
- Mean Keyword Difficulty – 20
- Lowest Keyword Difficulty – 0
6.2. Cost Per Click:
The cost-per-click metric shows what the cost-per-click of a keyword would be as part of a Google Ads campaign.
- Highest Cost-Per-Click – $9.00
- Mean Cost-Per-Click – $1.71
- Lowest Cost-Per-Click – $0.01
The clicks-per-search metric is the average number of clicks users perform after searching for a keyword. In some instances, featured snippets can answer a search query from the SERP, which means users may not need to click into a result.
And as such, this metric is calculated by dividing post-query clicks by the monthly estimated search volume of the said keyword.
- Highest Clicks-Per-Search – 1.71
- Mean Clicks-Per-Search – 0.93
- Lowest Clicks-Per-Search – 0.24v
How to Improve Google Results Ranking to Position #1
To get a snapshot of an average way to increase Google results ranking to position #1, let’s recap our data here in one easy-to-read profile. Bearing in mind, an average #1 Google result will not be the homepage of a site. It will, however, be a secure page/site.
In most cases, it’ll also most likely not have sitelinks in the search results. But, don’t be too surprised if you see them. You should, however, be surprised if you see a rich snippet in a #1 result. And although featured snippets are out there, the #1 result usually will not be a featured snippet.
Eventually, the #1 result will have a meta description in the code of the page. And it’s, therefore, a virtual coin toss as to whether the page title will have an exact match to the keyword that was searched. In addition, there are other metrics that will shake out too well.
The metrics to include are:
- Domain Rank: 70
- URL Rank: 24
- Total Backlinks: 918
- Dofollow Backlinks: 546
- Nofollow Backlinks: 371
- Referring Domains: 81
- Dofollow Referring Domains: 44
- Response Time: 0.879 seconds
- Desktop Speed Score: 68
- Mobile Speed Score: 38
- Page Title Character Length: 45
- Page Title Pixel Length: 425
- Word Count: 1,967
- Text-to-Code Ratio: 6%
It’s important to realize, each #1 Google result is so unique to the search volume of the keyword, number and type of backlinks to a page, quality and length of content, site speed, and other factors can vary greatly from search to search. That’s why it’s always important to look at the SERPs prior to optimization.
For one thing, it will show you how hard you must work to improve Google results and unseat the #1 positions. That said, certain components can give you an average of what you can expect, in general, when trying to take over the #1 Google result.
You can follow the following suggestions to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) further. And then, watch your website rise the ranks to the top of search engine results.
A. Publish Relevant Content
First of all, quality content is the number one driver of your search engine rankings and there is no substitute for great content. Quality content created specifically for your intended user increases site traffic, which improves your site’s authority and relevance. Learn how to fine-tune your web writing skills in detail.
Secondly, you can also try to identify and target a specific keyword phrase for each page on your website. It is very difficult for a webpage to achieve search engine rankings for multiple keyword phrases — unless those phrases are very similar. A single page may be able to rank for both “biomedical engineering jobs” and “biomedical engineering careers”.
Ranking for “student affairs” and “dean of students” or “gender discrimination” and “violence reporting procedures” with a single page is unlikely. To improve Google results even further, let’s say you want to rank for multiple keywords phrases with your website. Definitely, you’ll need to make a separate webpage for each keyword phrase you are targeting.
Additionally, beyond page URL, title, and headings, content is most influential on search engine rankings. Repeat your keyword phrase several times throughout the page — once or twice in the opening and closing paragraphs. And two to four more times throughout the remaining content.
B. Update Your Content Regularly
You’ve probably noticed that we feel pretty strongly about content. Search engines do, too. Regularly updated content is viewed as one of the best indicators of a site’s relevancy, so be sure to keep it fresh. Audit your content on a set schedule (semesterly for example) and make updates as needed.
Don’t forget to use bold, italics, heading tags (especially an H1), and other emphasis tags to highlight these keyword phrases — but don’t overdo it. You still want your language and writing style to read naturally. Never sacrifice good writing for SEO. The best pages are written for the user, not for the search engine.
C. Consider Your Site Metadata
As you work hard to improve Google results, when designing your website, each page contains a space between the <head> tags to insert metadata. Or information about the contents of your page. If you have a CMS site originally produced by the UMC web team will have pre-populated this data for you.
However, it is important for you to review and update Metadata as your site changes over time. For instance, the title metadata is responsible for the page titles displayed at the top of a browser window and as the headline within search engine results. It is the most important metadata on your page.
For those with a CMS website, the web team has developed an automated system for creating the meta title for each webpage based on your page title. This adds to the importance of using well-thought-out page titles rich with keyword phrases.
Description metadata is the textual description that a browser may use in your page search return. Think of it as your site’s window display — a concise and appealing description of what is contained within, with the goal of encouraging people to enter.
A good meta description will typically contain two full sentences. Search engines may not always use your meta description, but it is important to give them the option. Lastly, Keyword metadata is rarely if ever used to tabulate search engine rankings. However, you should already know your keyword phrases, so it doesn’t hurt to add them into your keyword metadata.
D. Create A Link-worthy Site & Use alt tags
As an example, as you try to improve Google results for your site ranking, focus on creating relevant links within the text. Instead of having “click here” links, try writing out the name of the destination. “Click here” has no search engine value beyond the attached URL, whereas “the jmexclusives online consultancy agency” is rich with keywords.
And as such, it’ll improve your search engine rankings as well as the ranking of the page you are linking to. Always use descriptive links by linking keywords — it not only improves search engine optimization but also adds value to your readers. Including those with disabilities or who are using screen readers.
On the other hand, always describe your visual and video media using alt tags, or alternative text descriptions. They allow search engines to locate your page, which is very crucial. Especially, for those who use text-only browsers or screen readers.
Finally, these are only a few of the many methods for improving your search engine ranking. But, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help. You can also share your additional thoughts, suggestions, and questions in our comments section.