Being Found on Google: The SERP, Search Engine Optimization, Google Ads and Local SEO
We all want customers to be able to find our organization on Google, but how do you get on the first page of search results? How do you get on the map that appears in some search results?
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing some terms you’ve heard before, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Ads. As well as some terms you might not be familiar with such as SERP and Local SEO.
What is a SERP
SERP or Search Engine Results Page refers to the page you see when doing a query with a search engine. You might have noticed the page can look different depending on what you search and the device you use.
Some pages have ads, some don’t, sometimes there is a map with local businesses and sometimes there are videos, images etc. Many different features can appear in the SERP, in this post we’ll be reviewing a few that are most relevant to small and medium-sized organizations.
Let’s start with paid ads as they generally appear first. Google Ads allow you to bid on search terms to have your website appear at the top of the SERP. You might have heard this described as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Pay-Per-Click (PPC). Google uses several factors, including your ad bid, the quality of your ad and the landing page it links to as well as the relevancy of the search term to determine which ads appear.
Google Ads are great for organizations that need immediate results, are in highly competitive industries or who want to supplement their other digital or traditional marketing efforts. Although there is an ongoing cost to running ads, you can set a maximum budget that you’re comfortable with and adjust your strategy to match your organization’s needs.
Google Ads may seem simple to set up, but they can be a lot more complicated than they first appear. Taking the time to research Google Ads, or trusting your ads to a professional will save you a lot of time and money. If you have any questions about Google Ads feel free to contact us.
Local Pack (Map Results)
When Google believes a search has local intent, you’ll likely see a Local Pack containing a map and three physical locations. It may also include Google Review scores, services, price ranges, addresses, hours, and other details about the location. A user can click on the listing and see more information about the location including a link to a website, phone number and more.
These details are generated from the Google My Business page for that location. If your organization doesn’t have a Google My Business account, Google has likely created a listing for you. The good news is that it’s easy to claim and then manage your Google My Business account. Click here to learn more about claiming your Google My Business Profile.
The order of the results in the Local Pack is determined by several factors including the proximity of the location to the person searching, reviews and the relevancy of the information in the locations Google My Business account to the search.
Organic Search Results
Many other features can appear in the search results such as videos, images, news…and the list goes on. All these results can be considered organic results, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on traditional text search results.
The exact algorithms Google uses to rank sites for specific keywords are always evolving, as are your rankings, and your competitor’s rankings. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your website and it’s content to get it to rank higher in organic search results.
Google’s success is dependant on users finding what they are looking for quickly…very quickly! Most users will only click on one of the top few results. Google wants those results to be relevant to the user as well as a good experience regardless of the type of device they’re using. As over half of search queries are made from mobile devices, Google favours sites that are optimized for mobile devices.
Other factors that affect your ranking include your site speed, page titles, proper use of keywords on your webpages, readability of your text and more. There are no easy answers to get to the top of the organic rankings. Anyone old enough to remember a time before Google can tell you about searching through pages and pages of irrelevant search results. Back then the system could be gamed using what is referred to as Black Hat SEO. Modern search engines are too sophisticated to be cheated and will punish or not list sites attempting to game the system.
Although there are no quick tricks to get you to the top of search results, there are proven strategies to increase your rankings for the keywords that matter to your organization and your clientele.
The way customers search for information and the tools they use are always evolving. We hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of how and where your organization might appear on Google. If we can answer any questions regarding Google Ads, SEO or digital marketing and web design in general please let us know.
Our team is always available to help. You can reach us with the form at the bottom of every page of our website, by phone at (780) 473-4600, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.