There are three types of search results you find on Google:
- Pay-per-click: People pay money to show up in the top and bottom margins with the little green box that says “Ad”. Every time the link is clicked, money is deducted from their funded account. The amount per click depends on what the client has bid, which can be as low as 50 cents or as high as $15.
- Organic: These are the “natural” results that we have been seeing since Google’s inception back in 1998. They are located in the main body.
- Local Places: This is the box that appears on top of the organic search results that usually has a map and some dots showing where the business is located.
Getting listed as a pay-per-click advertiser takes money and patience. You just go to Google Ads, sign up and deposit. That is the easy part. Managing the back-end with bidding and key-wording can be the tricky part, especially for a beginner. Some people have no problem with it but many do.
Getting listed as an organic search result is the “long play”. Google uses thousands of algorithms to decide which sites represent the top positions. They are looking for the best maintained and most updated sites to fill the role. Having a surplus of content is another key factor. The more pages you have, the more pages the searcher can find. Pretty simple. The long play can take anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the SEO skill level of competition, market size and the overall saturation of your market.
This section is key for local businesses. Many people look at the section first, up to 43% of them in fact. The way to get ranked higher in this section is as follows:
- Make sure your business address is located within this area. Most often, Google will only index you if you are in fact operating out of a commercial building.
- Do the same things you would do to improve organic ranking, ie., have a streamlined, mobile friendly, quick loading website with plenty of content.
- This one may be most important: Encourage your happy customers to give you positive reviews on Google. Even if you get a bad or mediocre review it shows Google algorithms that your service is being used. The overall number of reviews is important. In other words, having 100 reviews that average 4.3 stars is more valuable than having only 5 total reviews with a perfect 5 star rating.
Other factors that contribute to these search results are :
- Where the searcher is located. Google tends to show the businesses closest to the searcher first.
- How long the business has been there. There seems to be some evidence that the longer a business has been around the better they show up on local business search. But this is not always the case and we have seen plenty of exceptions.
It is important to remember that the Google algorithms are always changing. Also, your particular ip address or machine that you are using to search may show slightly different results that mine, even if we are in the same building.
Lead Developer at Olympus Web. I started this company in 2002. I specialize in Search Engine Optimization and building websites for small businesses.