By John Eberhard

Google is always changing things so it is a challenge to keep up with what they are doing. Currently they show three distinctly different types of listings on a search results page.

Google AdWords

The first type of results that we see on a Google search results page is Google AdWords pay per click search results. The first three listings at the top of the left column, highlighted in yellow, are paid search results. These then continue down the thin right hand column.

You can start a Google AdWords account and get your ads to appear there, in response to any set of keywords that you select. So you pick your keywords, and then your ads will appear there whenever someone types in those keywords on Google.

The advantage of having a Google AdWords account is that you can get your ads up there quickly and they will start appearing right away. Exactly where your ad will appear depends on how many other companies there are competing for those keywords. If there are a lot your ad may appear well down the right hand column or even on page two. There are a number of factors that control how far down your ad will appear, but one of the primary factors is how high you are willing to bid. This is the amount you pay every time someone clicks on one of your ads.

But the basic advantage is that to a large degree you are in control of where your ad will appear and how fast it will appear there. The disadvantage is that it is a significant continuing expense. I have written extensively on pay per click advertising so you can refer to those articles if desired.

Organic Results

The next type of results you see on Google are organic listings. These are regular listings that appear lower down in the left column, and are not paid.

It can be a challenging and time consuming process to get your organic listings onto page one of Google for a high competition keyword. In order to do this, it is vital to have search engine optimization done for your web site, then do link building.

Search engine optimization consists of doing keyword research, selecting the best keywords, then writing titles and descriptions that utilize those keywords as much as possible, and inputting that data into the pages of your site. The best keywords are ones that are:

  1. Appropriate for the specific page on your web site
  2. Have as low competition as possible. This refers to the number of sites that are competing for that keyword. Most keyword research software will give this information.
  3. Have as high daily searches as possible.

In doing research for keywords I have seen good keywords with as little as 1 competing site and as many as several million. This is an important factor because with a keyword that has millions of competing sites, you just aren’t going to be able to rank for that keyword.

Once you have your overall list of keywords selected, then you select several for each individual page for your site, then write the title and description for each page, then put those onto the pages. The title is what shows up in blue on a search engine when your listing comes up. The description is the short blurb that appears underneath.

Next you have to build up links to your site coming from other sites. Depending on what industry you are in and how competitive it is, in most cases you will need to build up thousands of links.

Google Maps / Places

Within the last two years Google has introduced a new feature that has completely changed the nature of search for local businesses. When Google is able to determine that your search is local in nature, such as a search for a restaurant, a dentist, or a Starbucks, it will bring up Google Maps (also called Google Places) listings.

Google will display a small map in the right hand column, and 3-8 listings in the left hand column that correspond to the map. These listings will have a gray sort of balloon, that will turn orange when you mouse over it.

If you put up a Google Maps listing, the amount of competition in your industry will determine how high your listing will show up. In some really competitive industries, like dentists for instance, there can be 100 or more listings. You can see just the Google Places listings for a search by, in the far left column, clicking on “more” and then “Places.”

So how do you get your Google Maps listing to move up to page one, especially in a competitive industry? Well first of all you may have to claim your listing on Google, then log in and make the listing as complete as possible, listing your hours, services, and uploading any pictures and videos that you have. Then there are two primary factors in determining where your listing will appear. These are 1) the number of listings you have on other local listings type sites (these are called “citations” in Google-speak, the only time it is good to have lots of citations), and 2) the number of online reviews on your business. There are a number of sites that allow people to post reviews, and Google used to show links to a number of these. But recently they changed to just showing the number of reviews on Google.

So it is important once you set up your Google Places listing, to start creating listings on other sites, and to get lots of positive reviews online. So it’s good to get a program ongoing to increase these.

Good luck in your search engine marketing efforts.