When was the last time you opened the Yellow Pages to find a business? If you’re like me, it’s probably been at least 7+ years or more, or, if you’re part of our younger audience, the answer may be never. So, why am I even talking about this?
Back when the phone book Yellow Pages were a thing (it still is but I’m not sure why), if you were a business, you ‘needed’ to have a Yellow Page listing. Businesses could even pay for a Bold listing or larger graphic ads to try and stand out from the competition. But, at the very least, just being listed there got you exposure.
Today though, things are different. Google has taken over as king, and if you’re not on their first page when someone searches for a business in your industry, you’re almost invisible.
The first page of Google today also means much more than just the first 10 organic results. When doing a local search for a business, this will include ads, the local map pack, and the top 10 organics results. Let’s dive into some of the stats about each of these sections.
As a test, let’s do a search for ‘lawyer in Edmonton’. This is what is considered a local search. It has the industry and the location. The first thing we find on Google for this search is 4 paid Google Ads.
It’s hard to find specific stats on how many people click on paid ads for local searches, but most studies confirm that around 40% of clicks go to the top paid ads in search results (Powertraffick.com PPC Stats). With recent changes making ads look more like organic results, more people are clicking on ads.
To appear in Google Ads, you need to pay for them. To get started, you can go to https://ads.google.com. If you need help setting them up, check out our recent article titled Master Your Google Ads Game in 10 easy Steps, or contact us.
Running Google Ads is the easiest way to get yourself on the first page of Google. If your goal is to increase traffic and exposure quickly, this is your best bet.
Google Map Pack
When doing a search that includes the name of a city or town, Google will show you their map pack. This section will include a small map with pins to 3 businesses that match your search. There can also be an ad spot within this map pack as well.
Other than the Ad spot, there are many factors in play when Google decides who to place in this map list. Here is what we have found to be factors that help your business get placed in this map pack:
- A complete Google My Business listing
- Quality reviews on Google for your business
- Good website search engine optimization
An important thing to note about the Map Pack, though, is that where you are searching from will also affect which businesses are listed here. For example, if you’re downtown and search for a business, Google may show different businesses than if you search from the North side of your city. This is because vicinity to search also plays a role in who’s shown.
Think of this from Google’s perspective. If you type “McDonalds” into the map, Google is going to show you the closest locations. It wouldn’t be very valuable to show you the location across the city, and Google wants to make sure you keep using their search and their maps.
Organic Search Listings
On each page of Google are 10 organic search results. Your website gets listed within these results based on how well your website is search optimized. We call this SEO.
Just like getting listed in the Google Map pack, there are many factors that decide which websites appear in the top 10 organic search results. Some of them include:
- Do your website titles, headings, and content include the keyword being searched
- How quickly your website loads
- How mobile friendly it is
- How many quality back-links to your website do you have
Having quality back-links to your website helps Google trust your website. If a website has more back-links, Google feels it can trust this website to be a reliable source of info.
There are tasks you can do yourself to improve the SEO of your website. Here’s a great guide we found on doing that:
In this report from April 2019, Advanced Web Ranking breaks down the click-through-rate (CTR) percentages for each of the top 10 positions for both desktop and mobile search:
On desktop searches, 78% of all organic clicks occur in the top 10 listings, and on mobile, that number is slightly less at 65.5%.
If we add up the number of people who click on ads, the map pack, and the top 10 organic listings, we get 95% of all searchers. That means only 5% of people go past the first page of Google. So, like we said, if your business can’t be found on the first page, you’re nearly invisible on the internet.
So What Should You Do?
The answer to this will depend on your goals.
If you’re looking for immediate results, go with Google Ads. This puts you at the top of the list almost immediately. If you do run Google Ads, it is important that you monitor them to ensure you’re seeing a positive return on investment. Ads can become expensive if you’re not seeing a return.
Another downside of Google Ads is that once you stop paying for them, you no longer appear on the first page.
If you’re wanting to appear in the Google map pack, start by making sure you have claimed and completed your Google My Business listing. Once you have done that, make sure to set up a process to ask for reviews. Google reviews can go a long way in building trust in your business.
If you’re looking for the best long term results, go with SEO. Optimizing your website to appear in the top 10 results can take some time to see positive results, but the work you put in doesn’t disappear if you stop optimizing. After putting in the work to get to the first page, if you stop, you website is still going to appear there, at least until someone else puts in more work.
Depending on your industry and location, though, SEO can be quite competitive, and a lot of work might be needed to get your business onto the first page. If you’ve tried all the SEO basics you can do yourself and you’re not seeing results, let us know and we can help you out.
Whatever strategy you want to take, we’re here for you if you need help. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.