Everyone wants a listing on the first page of Google search results, but the question is, how do you get there? This blog post will explain the basics. There are three ways to make it to Page One of Google, and ideally you want to use all three strategies to increase your clicks, exposure and credibility.
Google AdWords/Paid Search Ad Listings
If you do a search on Google, you might notice that some of the results at the top and bottom of the page (see section A + D in the diagram below) have the word “Ad” in yellow highlighted text in front of them. These are what are called “Google text ads.” If you’re starting to market your business from scratch, they’re by far the fastest way to make it to Page One. As you might have guessed, companies pay for these ads. A company can set what keywords are important to them in a search and make a “bid” to have their ad shown for that keyword.
For example, if you sell barbeques, you might set “barbeque sale” as a desired keyword and bid $1.50. Now every time someone searches “barbeque sale” your ad will show up. Whenever someone clicks on your ad, you’ll be charged $1.50 (rather than paying for each click, you can also choose to pay other ways, such as for each 1000 times your ad is displayed).
On Google there are four ads displayed at the top and three at the bottom of search results. The order of ad listings is determined primarily by three factors:
- Your bid – The higher your bid, the more likely you are to rank.
- The quality and relevance of your text ad – The more closely your ad matches what a person is searching for the better you’ll rank. For example, if the keyword you set is “barbeque sale” (and so the person searching has typed in “barbeque sale”) you might not rank as well if your ad is primarily about barbeque repair.
- The quality and relevance of your landing page – A landing page is the webpage a potential customer is taken to after they click on your ad. If they searched “barbeque sale” and are taken to a page specifically about the current barbeque sale you’re offering you’ll rank better than if they go to your homepage where all kinds of products are listed.
There are three or fewer Google Map listings on a Google search results page. You are listed on Google Maps if you create a Google Business Listing. Whether you appear in those top three depends on a lot of different factors, including user reviews, the number and quality of inbound links, and having a local number versus a 1-800 number. Google Map listings are valuable but also the least reliable because they may or may not show up depending on the search.
A Google search results page has 10 (or sometimes fewer) organic listings. These are the most valuable and sought after listings on the page. Organic listings (like map listings) are free. According to industry research, organic listings and map listings receive about 94% of all traffic, while the ads average about 6% of traffic. Ranking high for the organic results depends on many different factors and achieving a high ranking in a competitive industry can take a long time. Google factors in how often you use the keywords people are searching for, how long a website has been on the internet, how many links there are internally and from other websites, and many technical factors, such as ALT-text, the number of tagged headings, the meta descriptions and more.
Ultimately, there’s nothing better than the number one organic ranking on the first page of Google search results, but there are still some advantages to AdWords ads. AdWords campaigns may convert better than organic traffic. Additionally, with AdWords you can start driving customers instantly for a new business, product or deal, while organic rankings will take longer to establish.