Understanding search engine basics is critical to planning digital marketing strategy: even if you have another company you hire to do it for you. No two companies or industries are alike when it comes to ranking on Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines. Search engine marketing (SEM) takes careful attention and planning.

Back when I started SEM, there were no paid ads available on Google. The Google search engine has changed a lot since then. While organic rankings are still the best bang for your buck when it comes to traffic if you’re contracting an outside service, paid advertisements are necessary for top result listings.

Since Google dominates the search engine market, this blog will focus on Google search engine results. Furthermore, most other search engines follow Google’s lead when it comes to offering more targeted experiences for their end-users.

Understanding Variables in Placement

Google’s primary function is to populate the results the user is searching for. Over the years, Google’s grown very smart in its ability to generate results.

If you use Google, you’ve probably experienced a variety of layout results. That is because Google populates search results based on a very complex algorithm that learns and changes based on user behaviors. Search engine optimization is important because it ensures that your company keeps up with all the changes in efforts to appear on the first page of Google (the top 10).

Not all search engine results are organic. In fact, the only way to guarantee top-of-the-page results is to pay for advertising. And even when you pay for advertising, you’re not guaranteed the very top placement or that your ad will be shown with every search. That all depends on the volume of searches and advertiser competition.

LSA google ranking

Local Service Ads: Google Trusted and Verified Results

Local Service Ads are for home service businesses who have passed Google’s background check and verification process. If your business services people at their homes or businesses, Local Service Ads is amazing.

Google takes the time to complete background checks and insurance verification so that people searching for home services can shop with ease. Not only does the Google Trusted mark next to the ad encourage trust, but it also backs the customer’s purchase. If they are unsatisfied, Google will guarantee up to $2,000 of the service.

We began LSA not long after it launched. Once approved, we noticed immediate results. While LSA has a higher cost per lead than typical Google ads, it also has a higher booking rate in our experience. When integrated with your customer management software, you can track customer’s spend. LSA also records calls for additional insights. Google can send plenty of leads your way. If it’s not translating to sales, there may be another factor such as an unfriendly receptionist or failure to call back.

LSA is something your company can manage on its own, or hire a company to manage for you. The application process takes some time and it’s not to have a company who knows what they are doing to assist you with this process.

When you use a separate company, management varies. For example, when you use Zen, we review your calls and provide you detailed insights that can’t be covered by analytics alone. Whenever you use an agency to assist with digital marketing efforts, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for in addition to the advertising services. Some agencies make a lot of money setting and forgetting.

Google AdWords: Pay Per Click Results

Google AdWords can feel intimidating if you’ve never managed a pay-per-click campaign. While entirely possible to manage pay-per-click ads without an agency, many companies find that working with an outside company they receive better returns on their marketing efforts.

Like LSA, as of 2020, AdWords enables call reviews as well.

AdWords Google Search Results

Organic Search Results

According to a new study (2020) that analyzed over 80 million keywords and billions of search results, the first organic result in Google received 28.5% of the clicks. The second and third organic positions result in 15% and 11%. The tenth ranking position resulted in 2.5% of the clicks.

When search engine specialists talk about organic rankings, they’re typically referring to the Google search results below LSA, AdWords, Map Listings, etc..

Google Maps Listing

“HVAC North Royalton – Actual Client Results”

Google My Business and Google Maps

We consider Google Map results to be organic because you do not pay for them to appear. Your business’s listing via Maps is based on your Google My Business profile.

Google My Business is like an online directory with some social elements. For more information about Google My Business, click here.

“HVAC North Royalton – Actual Client Results”

Social Media, News, and Videos

Social media may appear in search results. For example, during the Donald Trump presidency, when searching terms around the president, his Twitter profile and some of his tweets would populate. As would other news sources and Twitter profiles that were tweeting about him.

Recent news would also display in the tops of results when searching for current events. If you’re searching for a celebrity and they’d been featured in several news sources recently, those will often appear at the top of results.

When searching for a person or brand, social media profiles also populate in search results. Furthermore, social media searches are increasingly popular. People no longer just look for services on Google, Bing, or other search engines. People go to their social networks for recommendations and to conduct their own searches!

There’s also video search results—and an important reminder that Google owns YouTube. When searching for instructions on Google, video results usually display high up on the page. Other types of searches will populate video results too. For example, current news events or live streams.

Digital Directories

When it comes to search engine marketing, it’s important to consider all the variables. Much like when phonebooks were the primary source of advertising for small businesses, search engines like Google took over. For most people, gone are the days of leafing through the environmentally disastrous phonebook pages. Instead, they grab their phones/pocket computers and access all the information they need.

Your business can show up in search results without your website. For example, YellowPages.com service listing populates in organic search engine results sometimes. Hundreds of online directories show results that relate to your business, which is why it’s important that your company is listed accurately online.

When you work with an agency like Zen, we’ll help your business to make sure all of your digital efforts are working together so you can reach more potential customers (and keep them coming back).

There’s also video search results—and an important reminder that Google owns YouTube. When searching for instructions on Google, video results usually display high up on the page. Other types of searches will populate video results too. For example, current news events or live streams.