By Chris Nastav
Years ago, when a consumer needed a product or service, they went to the Yellow Pages. Items were listed in alphabetical order, and they picked from whoever was listed. Remember all those companies called A1, AAAA or APlus Services? Businesses found, through experience, that the first name on the page got the most calls. That’s simple and non-technical, correct?
Well, Google is today’s Yellow pages. The vast majority of today’s consumers use Google to find purchases. In fact, 75 per-cent of people use Google over Yahoo and Bing, and the research shows that most consumers don’t bother to go beyond the first page of the search results. Of these people, 25 percent just start at the top of the search-result screen, and pick a company.
This includes the Pay-Per-Click ads. The remaining 75 percent skip the ads, but still start at the top of the list.
If you look at just the raw numbers, you can see how crucially important Google is to a business. For example: the word “plumber” is searched for, just in Kansas City, 9,000 times a month. Calculating a very low job price of $100 per plumbing visit, that’s $900,000 a month being spent on plumbing services in Kansas City—all found through Google.
Most businesses should strive to be on the first page of a Google search results screen. But what’s equally important is that business owners need to understand how Google works, and not just the technical side. The Internet and Google have been around for many years now, and yet plenty of business owners still admit they really don’t understand how Google works. Unfortunately, they are more likely to be taken-in by slick sales messages and promises from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing companies. Most business owners do not even know that there are actually three different search result areas on a Google search-result screen. The requirements needed to display in these three areas are greatly different.
So what steps should a business owner follow to improve the chances of landing on the first page of Google? First, talk with a reputable local SEO expert and learn, thoroughly, how Web searches work. Learn the three search result areas: Pay-Per-Click, Local Maps and Organic. Do not spend any money until you understand, from a non-technical perspective, how it all of those work.
A good SEO marketing professional should be able to explain exactly where every dime of your marketing budget will go in each of the three areas. Unfortunately, with the amount of money businesses can make using Google, there are thousands of predatory SEO companies out there vying for your money. Not all of these companies have your best interests at heart. Many are just looking for a way get your business locked into a six-month or annual contract of services as a way to ensure residual income. They are hoping that you have no understanding of how Google searches actually work.
As an instructor of Web site design at Johnson County Community College for over 15 years, I can tell you that the core concepts of how Google decides who gets on the first page of an organic search result screen have not changed in almost 10 years. It’s not technical voodoo; Google changes its search algorithms all the time, but those core qualifications don’t change.
One of the core qualifications to first-page rankings from Google is lots of good, relevant content. Google loves content, and you can never have too much on your Web site. Plus, they want to see you talking and putting content in YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc. If you are a plumber in Kansas City, you should have content all over the Internet talking about your great plumbing skills.
Google loves companies that utilize the Internet to promote their business with fresh new content, and especially content from various places. This con-tent strategy is a core, non-technical requirement to first page placement in Google for Organic searches. So, before you spend any money on this endeavor, really invest in learning what it takes to be on the first page of a Google search result screen.
Now on to Google Pay-Per-Click. Would a Pay-per-Click program even work for your business? Same story—invest in learning. It’s not technical;
Chris Nastav is the owner of KC Web Specialists in Overland Park, Kan.