Whether you are an experienced digital explorer or an eager first-timer, you should understand the prominence (and importance) of Google. As the top search engine worldwide, you're likely familiar with Google and how to use it for your digital searches.
However, though you might be familiar with Google, you may not fully understand what the results page means. Yes, you can type in “water heater repair Boston” and find results, but how are the links actually selected to appear in each of the distinct areas?
What do all these different sections mean? And more importantly - how do you get your business to be displayed at the top?
Let’s take our sample search and review Google’s design:
1) Google Paid Search Ads
At both the top of the results page and on the right column (labeled “1” above), Google will display paid ads that are relevant to your search. Through the Google Adwords platform, companies pay for advertising to appear on the results page when users search for something relevant to their business.
Based specifically on geographic location and keyword focus, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can put your business’ ad at the top of Google. By using SEM, businesses can reach Google users at the exact moment they’re searching for your services or products. This can prove to be a highly-effective tool in generating new leads and customers.
However, Search Engine Marketing requires a budget. Operating in a PPC (pay-per-click) format, your business pays each time a viewer clicks on your ad.
2) Organic Search Results
Below the paid ads, Google displays the organic results (labeled '2' above). The website links that display within the organic section appear because of their relevance to the search terms entered. Presence in this section comes down to the quality of your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
In today’s digital age, SEO is fundamental to any web presence as it helps position your website properly on search engines like Google. When utilizing SEO, Google is looking for the following:
- Content (including appropriate keywords to your business and location)
- Performance (how fast does your website load? does it work?)
- Authority (are you positioning yourself as a trustworthy member of your industry?)
- User Experience (including navigation and page layout)
3) Local Profiles
Google Places - which are Google’s online business listings - is another chance to get your company’s name onto a Google results page. Building and managing your local profile help gets your business displayed in two places on the results page (labeled '3' above):
- Within the organic results
- Pinned to Google Maps
You want your business to be as prominent as possible on Google, so fulfilling your local listing can be an effective way to appear high up in search results where customers can find you. Google Places helps ensure your contact information is both noticeable and accurate.
In our sample search above, you can see that one of the top organic results was a Yelp search. A typical Google user may scroll down to the Local Listings to find actual businesses in my area - one with a location and phone number clearly visible right on the results page.
Put your business on top
From a user standpoint, Google is considered the leading search engine due to its simplicity. It's clean, uncluttered, and easy to navigate. As a business, however, there is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes to ensure I can be found in the results page.
Now it's time to put it into practice! Say you're launching a new website (or updating your existing one) for a Heating & A/C contractor business. The ideal Google strategy would include the following:
- Create and verify my Google Local Profile
- Implement standard SEO tactics on my website
- Incorporate a modest SEM campaign around the most relevant keywords