Search Engine Exposure
Recent years, consumers have been turning more and more to search engines to find the products, services, and information that they need. People are using their mobile phones to search Google many times per day. Not too long ago, people would look in the Yellow Pages to find businesses near them. Search engines have come so adept at delivering relevant and credible information about local businesses that few people use the Yellow Pages or other off-line directories anymore.
It is extremely valuable for businesses to be visible when potential customers are searching for their type of product or service. Let’s look at the basic ways this can be accomplished.
Sometimes, executing searches on search engines will trigger ads to be shown on the search results page. Not always, however. Some searches are not very commercial in nature. For example, if someone searches, “rules of backgammon,” there may not be any ads showing in the results. Ads tend to show more when a search is commercial in nature, such as searches like, “hire a painter,” or “buy a bicycle.”
The good news is that search engine advertising platforms are very sophisticated, and offer exciting opportunity for businesses to acquire customers. The bad news is that these platforms are incredibly complicated to use effectively. While it’s not difficult for anyone to simply create an account and the campaign, much of their money will likely be wasted without knowing the extensive art and science of pay-per-click advertising, or PPC. With PPC, it’s a constant battle to both get clicks and avoid clicks. This is done by using a dizzying array of techniques, options, methods, settings, and theory applications. As an advertiser, you are only charged if someone actually clicks on your advertisement. An appearance of your ad (known as an impression) does not result in any charges if it is not clicked on.
PPC advertising is our number one specialty, and we would love to help you get this highly focused and cost-efficient exposure.
When someone does a search for something that appears to have “local intent,” search engines normally display a cluster of local business listings. These listings represent businesses in the local area that are believed to be relevant and credible for the terms used by the searcher. There is no cost to the businesses who appear in these listings. Obviously, this is a very valuable type of exposure, but it is not easily attained. Google looks at hundreds of relevance and credibility signals to determine which businesses will be displayed, and in what order. These signals, once studied, are very commonsensical. For example, the age of the listing is known to be a factor, and that makes sense. A business that has been established for 15 years should appear more credible than a business that was started two weeks ago. (Not that that is always necessarily the case, but it is a common sense factor that is considered.) Another important credibility factor is: consistency. Search engines like to get various signals from different places on the web that show a high degree of consistency. For example, if a business has one phone number on their website, but another phone number on their Yelp profile, it could have a detrimental effect to their credibility with search engine local listing results. With local search engine listings, keep in mind that these are meant to be actual businesses— not websites or webpages. It’s possible for businesses to appear in the local listings even if they do not have a website.
While local listings are listings of actual businesses, the organic search results lists actual webpages that relate to the terms someone searches. In the early days of search engines, organic results were all you got. Only years later did other types of results begin to appear, such as local listings and advertisements. The organic results are meant to deliver the most quality information possible related to the search term used. Keep in mind, these results are also somewhat customized for the actual person that is searching, based on their location and search term history.
Like with the local listings, the search engines consider hundreds of factors when determining the relevance and credibility of webpages to the terms used in the search. They then use complex algorithms to give various degrees of weight to different factors. This is a very, very highly sophisticated system, and not easily to manipulate. There was a time when SEO (Search Engine Optimization) was a set of processes that could be fairly easily executed and duplicated to boost the ranking of pages in the search engine results. Nowadays, however, a higher degree of examination and filtering are built into the process to disregard (and sometimes punish) any dubious attempts to manipulate elements in order to rank higher with search engines. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our best to achieve visibility in organic search results. But it means that we should attempt to do so by creating content that is of high quality, and likely to be of true interest to the people who find it on the web.
Although this page only scratches the surface of what there is to know regarding search engine visibility, it gives the basic overview for what businesses need to know. Ideally, a local business should strategize for all three areas mentioned– paid advertisements, local listings, and organic results. There are tremendous benefits to appearing in two or three of these areas at the same time. For one thing, it’s more likely that someone will see the business appearing somewhere. For another thing, if a consumer notices a business showing more than once on page 1 of the search results, the business will appear more established and credible than competing businesses with less exposure. There is considerable research that shows this to be true, including Google’s own research.
If you would like professional help to get your business going in the right direction for search engine exposure, please contact us now. We look forward to partnering with you on this goal.
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