As a web developer, I’m asked this question quite often, but the answer is not really that simple. To get your website on the first page of google there are actually a few options to consider including cost, time and ROI.
Let me explain…
To get on the first page of Google, we first need to understand how Google displays search results.
To help give a visual narration, I’ll open Google Chrome and enter “Chiropractor near me” and hit enter…
What happens next is Google will perform a search of its data using the keyword “chiropractor”, and key phrase “chiropractor near me” and cross reference it to either your IP address or GEO-Location coordinates. It will then deliver a large number of options displayed across several pages that present a match to your inquiry. For me (at the time of writing this article) almost 3 million results were delivered in 1.33 seconds.
When you look at the first page of search results in Google you’ll see several sections on the page:
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads at the Top
- Maps and Google My Business Pages (below the ads)
- Organic Search Results (below the map box)
- More Ads at the Bottom (below organic search)
- Other Search Phrases to Consider (at the very bottom)
So What Does All Of This Mean To Your Business?
- Ads – are Paid Placement through Google. While there are keyword strategies involved, basically, the higher bid paid, the better the placement of the ad.
- Maps – are part of the Google My Pages product where you “claim your location” on their map. It is a free service offered by Google and it gives each business owner their own “business page” to display information about their location including photos, hours of operation, videos, and reviews.
- Organic – This is the sweet spot of placement that doesn’t cost you anything if you (or your designer) does a good job prepping your web pages and content for SEO.
- Other Search Phrases – these are helpful suggestions of related searches others have used to find similar information. This is a great tool for web designers and/or SEO strategists to glean keyword / key phrase ideas to incorporate into your content or web copy to aid in its ability to get more organic visibility.
Saying you want to place “on top” of the page, means advertising. If you don’t have a reasonable budget set aside for this type of strategy (anywhere from $500/month for small biz to thousands per month for larger businesses depending on the industry and competitiveness of the keywords); then you need to consider looking at the other sections like maximizing your map listing or organic sections through content marketing.
Which Placement is More Effective On Google?
According to the Similar Web Search Report published in 2016, Paid Search only equates for just over 5% of all traffic while Organic results dominate the engagement of most searchers with nearly 95% of all engagement.
This awesome infographic gives more details by both brand and non-brand; and by overall industry performance supporting the organic clic-through-rates popularity. (Infographic source: adlift.com)
That said, according to a 2014 AdWeek article, another infograhpic identified upcoming advertising trends and revealed that more than one third of Chief Marketing Officers said that ‘digital marketing will account for 75% or more of their spending in the next five years.’
With Only 5% Clicking On Ads, Why Invest in Advertising?
This is a good question – especially since the CPC (cost-per-click) cost can get pretty steep depending on the keyword and market you’re targeting. Put simply, it comes down to “location, location, location” and most Search Engine Marketers still suggest that advertising and re-targeting campaigns have a solid place in the online environment to build brand awareness. While this is true in some cases, it comes down to how well you’re communicating to your target audience that will determine a buyer’s interest. In most cases, having a combined strategy that incorporates both advertising and content marketing is a good rule to follow (thus giving you exposure both at the top or bottom of the page – depending on where your ad falls, and having organic placement for specific keywords/phrases. Your specific industry and audience would determine the percentage of each to apply to that mix .
A good analogy I like to use to help clients understand what might be best for them is to compare online marketing to financial investments. Ads are a more risky investment where organic content is more stable. You just have to be careful. Ads can be a little more unpredictable. As such many take a more conservative route in developing content covering a wide range of keywords / key phrases to help drive traffic to their web page. In most cases having a strategy that includes a blend of both (like a mutual fund) provides a more stable ROI.
Case Study: We had a client who would spent an average of 3-5 thousand dollars each month for a Google Adwords and re-marketing ad campaign. They had done A/B testing and different platforms; but nothing really gave them the boost in sales they were expecting. Their ROI (Return On Investment) was really low, so we started with a focus group comprised of their target demographic and explored the digital conversation through a physical conversation with the desired end users. The findings were nearly unanimous. Of 20 people, only 1 of the whole group connected with either version of the ad – but for the wrong reason. We further discovered that their brand left a negative impression instead of positive one, causing the end user to become frustrated and disinterested in their brand all together. Why? After discussions, we found that their message didn’t really match their target audience and their immediate interests. While they ignored the first ad, they became rather annoyed that the ad then stalked them across the internet because of their re-marketing techniques. (Yikes!) Later, some found themselves telling their friends that they hated the ad and/or brand and didn’t really even know why other than remembering the ad being annoying. Psychological analysis determined that the ad became a subconscious distraction because it was getting in the way with what they were trying to achieve. This actually led to a discussion among the individuals in the group on different filters they could add to their browser to block ads. Again – not helpful to our client. Some did agree that changing the ad copy may have improved their response but they are typically too involved with other things (chatting with friends, playing games, or life) to really pay much attention to ads. Most agreed that they typically ignore them unless they are push notifications from brands they already love and have given permission for them to contact them. (Source: Golden Services Group, LLC)
The moral of this story is that with today’s digital market and excessive amount of information for end users to process, ads may only be as good as how well it is received in that first impression. This proves that you actually need to do something different to get a different result.
If Advertising Doesn’t Work, What Does?
Advertising can be a good tool to promote brand awareness and collect data, but not something to bank your marketing strategy upon alone – especially for the long-term. It is essential to develop a blended online marketing strategy that includes both advertising and content marketing targeting organic search placement using a wide variety of keywords and phrases.
Not a good writer? No problem! Hire a good copy writer and maybe even a communication scientist to help you track the subtle subconscious responses to your message. This approach is not only more cost efficient; but has shown to build greater brand awareness through social sharing, personalized engagement, and increased sales.
Instead of forcing your product/service upon your market through ads they tend to ignore, shifting a greater part of your marketing budget to developing a variety of useful communications is money well invested. Why? Your audience now comes to you (aka: attraction marketing) because you are playing into their search process. (Where they are actively paying attention!) It may take a little longer to find what makes them tick, but being present with them on a human level has much greater long-term affect than forcing an ad at them. The benefits include stronger relationships and greater brand loyalty with end-users.
So How Do You Build Organic Search?
- First and foremost, it is important to have a clear focus on your target audience and a very precise message.
- Do keyword research to identify the terms or phrases being used to search for your product or service. Including these words/phrases in key areas of your content will help your content rank better in search engine results.
- Write content to a party-of-one (one persona) of your demographic. Relatively, depending on your market, you could have three or more variations of one on the same topic, (written, video, info-graphics, podcast, etc.) Offering different versions also leverages different platforms like YouTube, Google Image Search, and Audio Directories (like ITunes for Podcasts) to drive traffic back to your website.
- Use Social Media and Email Marketing tools to help deliver that information to current connections. Don’t just expect them to share your posts. Ask for their help and if they like it, ask them to share it. Those who read your content and liked it are more likely to share it if you identify with them that is what you prefer than just a Like. It also adds a underlying layer of obligation since you just gave them something valuable, the least they can do is pass it on to others.
- Relavant Content is King! Relevant content means being original, informative, and authentic – and sharing good, factual information with links to resources, etc. Being opinionated is ok; but – depending on the audience; you have to be alert of where the lines of “being offensive” are drawn and tread carefully so as to make the right impact for your brand. If you, personally, are your brand, being opinionated can be good as it can quickly align you with others who see the world as you do.
- Just like with Ads, it is essential to monitor your engagement and response from your audience. Note what social community responds more. Note what type of articles perform better, etc. The numbers will guide you to doing what your audience prefers.
- Repeat regularly. Your audience will learn to expect a schedule of activity from you. Be careful to not do too much to fast as you set a standard that may be difficult to maintain.
Have questions? I’d be happy to help! Feel free to use our Contact Form to start a more personal conversation to determine specific ideas for promoting your business.
About the Author: Julia Eudy is the founder of Golden Services Group and experienced online marketing professional skilled in interpreting data analytics, writing compelling SEO-ready copy targeting engagement and creating a communication process to promote long-term referrals. She is also a STOP.THINK.CONNECT partner and can help you spot potential cyber-security threats and can help you limit risks for your business.