When people say: “I want to get my site to number one in Google for red widgets”, I don’t tell them they’ve just made a fundamental error in terminology, because it doesn’t really matter, I know what they mean.
Except it does matter. It’s only just dawned on me that they’re not being sloppy with their language, they’re betraying a misapprehension which needs to be corrected, because once it is, the path to getting to number one in Google becomes a lot clearer.
Sites don’t get to number one in Google. Pages do.
The idea of “getting a site to number one in Google” is a bit mysterious, and lots of people who make a living out of search engine optimisation are happy for it to stay that way. But if you think about getting a page to number one in Google, the concept becomes a lot simpler. You want to be number one for “red widgets”? Write a page about red widgets, and you’re a third of the way there. Get some decent links to your page (from your site and others) and you’re two-thirds of the way there.
Now, the final third involves some time and effort improving the first two parts, and it might still be the difference between being number one and number twenty. But without the first two, you’ve no chance. And from now on, if anyone asks if I can help them get their site to number one on Google, the first thing I’ll ask will be… “which page?”