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BNR Branding Solutions is based in Huntersville, N.C., and is a full-service web development and digital marketing company.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:20

First page on Google - How to get there

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First page on Google - How to get there

Over the years, Google has made changes to their search results both to better serve the consumer and to also bring more value to their advertisers. They've done a pretty good job of balancing what the consumer is looking for and what the advertisers are paying for.

After all, without those advertisers Google would probably not be the multi-billion dollar a year juggernaut that they are. The recent changes made to accommodate the rising number of mobile searches and searches for local businesses has many business owners confused about how to get found. Fear not! We're here to help by explaining how Google constructs a search result page and how listings find their way to each location on the page.

The image above is a screen capture of an actual Google search result page. Not all pages include all of these elements, and some pages actually include MORE – notable restaurant searches also include a ribbon across the top of the results with images and reviews. Anyhow, a typical results page is split up in to a few major sections. Here is how you get your business in each of them.

#1 – Top Flight AdWords Advertisers

Not surprisingly, Google sells the most valuable real estate on the page. The top of the page on the left is generally reserved for AdWords. In order to get your ads in this location, you have to have a combination of total AdWords spend, your ad group bid per click, and relevance to the specific search. The bigger your budget, the more per click you are willing to spend, and the more relevant your ads and site are to the search terms, the more likely that you are to claim one of these coveted sports.

While clicks on AdWords generally do not convert as well as an organic click, they are MUCH easier to get since they can be purchased. Depending on your industry and competition, you can end up with a significant number of clicks for a pretty reasonable price. With enough clicks, your net number of conversions – which is really what we are after right? – will be more than enough to result in a positive return on your ad spend.

Be warned though. While it may sound simple to just have a large budget and bid high on search terms, there are some companies that use very sophisticated software to maximize the efficiency of a company's AdWords campaign. It would be very difficult to compete with anyone using a reputable AdWords management firm and still have time to run your business. Or eat. Or see the light of day. Very often this is the cause of a failed AdWords campaign – the deck is very stacked if you don't know what you are doing.

How to get listed here – BNR Pay Per Click campaign

#2 – Google Local Map

The map that appears on many local searches is highly valuable. Not only does it appear at the top of the page, but it also stays pinned to the top of the page as you scroll down through the results. Clicking on the map or the link below it will open a Google Maps page with all of the relevant businesses highlighted on a map of the area. This makes it trivial for the user to determine which business is nearest to them.

Clicking a pin reveals the business address, phone number, web address, a link to reviews, and a link to directions to the business location. These convert very well so being on this map is highly valuable. Unfortunately these listings are not for sale. In order to get on the map, you must first claim your Google Places location and go through the verification process. Once verified, you will also need to complete your Google+ business page. Being verified and completing your profile will get you on the map, but it will not guarantee that you are one of the highlighted businesses. Google also looks to see if a business has reviews, if those reviews are positive, and how confident they are in the business information presented. They determine how accurate the information is by comparing a multitude of business citation sources like,,, and hundreds of other sites that list local businesses. The quantity, quality, and accuracy of those citations will go a long way to get your business toward the top of the listings.

How to get listed here – BNR Local Visibility Campaign

#3 – Top Organic Search results

Next on the page are the top organic search results. These listings are called organic because Google determines these placements based on their top secret algorithm that ranks search results on how relevant they are to the search terms. This is why Google commands such a large portion of the search market – they are very good at giving the user what they are looking for.

These listings cannot be directly purchased from Google, but many of the top listings are bought by enlisting the services of an SEO company. There are many factors that Google looks at that can be controlled by the website owner such as some meta data, quality content on the page, mobile usability, and site speed and code structure to name a few.

These listings are the most coveted because the convert higher than any other listings on the search results page. They also tend to be difficult to acquire due to the competition to get them. Optimizing a site or page is not a static proposition. Not only does Google make changes to their algorithm that can negatively affect a top listing, but competitors can make changes to a site to gain relevance and bump top listings down.

How to get listed here – BNR Search Engine Optimization Campaign

#4 – Secondary AdWords Advertisers

This location is another placement that can be purchased. Due to the less than optimal placement, this is the location where advertisers end up when their bid per click is lower, keyword selection is not as relevant for the search terms, or the ads have performed poorly. These clicks cost less, but are still convert well enough to make them worthwhile. The placement is still very prominent on the page and can be a great value if the landing pages are well suited to convert users.

How to get listed here – BNR Pay Per Click campaign

#5 – Google Local Listings

This section is an extension of the Google Local Map featured higher on the page. This is a list of the top location on the map. Much like the map, Google is looking for claimed Google Places listings, positive reviews, a complete Google+ business page, and strong citation support in order to display a business here. It is not unusual for the Google Local listings to appear above all of the standard organic search results depending on the search terms selected. These listings have tremendous value because of the number of links within each listing. Not only is there a link to the Google Map, each listing will have a link to the business website, reviews if there are any present, the business Google+ profile if it is present, and the business phone number can be click on mobile devices.

How to get listed here – BNR Local Visibility Campaign

#6 – Organic Search Results

The final section is the balance of the organic search results. The lower on the page, the less chance that a user will click on a listing, but these are still better than listings that are not found on the first page of results. These listings usually include sites that have fairly strong optimization that may need a little adjusting to get them higher up the page. Very often, these listings are made up of additional pages from websites that are listed toward the top of the results since most sites that are optimized will have the entire site optimized with many pages dedicated to very specific topics. Getting listings found on the lower half of the page are much easier to move up the page than getting weaker listing on to the first page at all.

How to get listed here – BNR Search Engine Optimization Campaign

Hopefully this helps clear up how and where listing come from on a typical Google search results page.

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Brent Friar is the owner and chief web developer for BNR Branding Solutions. His development experience dates back to 1994 when he was a founding partner of Internextion Web Development in Orange County, CA.

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