Do You Deserve A First Page Ranking?

Think about it.

Does your content really deserve to rank on page one for your target keywords? Is it one of the 10 best, most informative, most useful pieces of content on the internet?

If not, the answer is probably no.

This post was inspired by this tweet from Russ Jones:

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This may seem harsh, but you know what – he’s right.

I really like this concept, especially since the days of link building seem numbered and the shift towards link attracting has already begun.

It’s not news that brands are winning the fight against Google, to the extent that there is a pretty obvious bias towards brands within the SERP’s. And as Aaron Wall mentions in his post, Eric Schmidt has been quoted affirming this suspicion:

Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. Brand affinity is clearly hard wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.

– Eric Schmidt, Google’s Schmidt Says Internet ‘Cesspool’ Needs Brands

Beyond being a brand, there are a lot of reasons why your content may not be attracting natural links.

You Need to Be Worthy of Ranking

Back to Russ’s tweet, and why I think this is important.

The idea behind this concept is that the game has changed for the better. It’s no longer about gaming the system, it’s about being worthy of the attention that top rankings in a competitive industry will bring you.

Companies Websites ranking on page one who are not among the best in their niche are squandering an opportunity that would be better served by their competitors. If you are getting the right traffic but can’t make the conversion, you don’t deserve that ranking.

Furthermore, it is not good enough to think you are the best or say you will be. In order for this approach to take shape and drive results,  this commitment must flow through your organization from the top down. It is a mindset that must be accepted by every person on your team and they need to believe in it.

Part of this mentality is developing a culture of testing and constant improvement; where any day you are not getting better you are getting worse.

You need to evolve your goals and their supporting process to be more agile, you need to dissect your competitors, you need to shift from SEO to CRO, you need to obsess over customers…

You need to be better. Not to mention that you have to understand which is your potential for ranking in Google‘s page results.

Current State of The SERP’s

I wanted to go out and take a look at the first page of Google across a variety of vertical markets to see if after the Zoo Updates, only the best, most rank-worthy websites are holding the top spots.

I picked a variety of large, very competitive markets, to see how the big brands stack up against other websites competing in their space.

The verticals I’m looking at are women’s fashion, children’s products, technology hardware, software, and then some of the less savory verticals like credit cards, car insurance, and payday loans.

Google SERP for query “black dress”

Google SERP for Black Dress 092712

As you can see this SERP is dominated by all big brand sites, not too surprising for a search term with 288 million competing results.

Google SERP for query “childrens bicycle”

Google SERP for Childrens Bicycle 092712

As you can see from my red highlighted boxes above, this SERP contains some instances where the sites ranking are not major brand e-retailers or big box stores.

In fact, a deeper look at each reveals some interesting information. I personally had not heard of Meijer before, but upon clicking through their search result I arrived on their children’s bicycles page:


which as you can see, is fitting of it’s 3rd position ranking; it is a well designed, well built website offering a lot of options for searchers looking for children’s bike’s and is a relatively established internet retailer.

Moving on to


this page is quite the polar opposite of the retailer pages filling up most of this SERP, but due to it’s comprehensive evergreen content including a number of useful references and a very helpful age and size chart, it ranks appropriately.

Moving on to the final non-brand website in the SERP,


Again, this is an example of another great content page. This particular page provides some really helpful advice for parents who are both shopping for a children’s bike and also some general information on sizing, quality, and what to look for.

Google SERP for query “laptop”


This one surprised me at first. With nearly 1 billion competing pages, I figured for sure the first page would only be name brand companies, and for the most part it is, except for one. (pretty decent domain) is outranking

Let’s take a look at the page: