We all search for things online. We see results. They are called ‘search results’, and this is what I help businesses with.
Topic number one:
If you “Google” something, you almost invariably get search results, from tens of pages, to tens of millions of search results. What is shown to you typically consists of a number of things, and if you asked the “man on the street”, he’d likely say something like “Ads and… uh, yeah, not ads, the rest”.
Below I’ve broken down the ‘Search Engine Results Page’ (known as SERP’s) into its constituent parts, as an introduction into what I offer, and how the whole ecosystem of Google works. This will help you to know where to focus your attention, or at very least help you understand a little more about what you could be doing to help your website get more search traffic.
When you Google something you see results, and ten years ago it was a little simpler, but today there is a lot going on. I’m going to try unpack this the best way possible: by showing you a typical example, as displayed on the right here – or below, if you’re browsing on a mobile device, with a small screen – more on that later in the UX section!
As indicated, here I googled “pizza oven installation” and got very simple results that are organic, starting with Orion Heating. It lists four companies here (well, at least four unique websites) and you see the black url at the top, then the blue title, and then the light grey meta description. You are probably going to click on one of these four based on a few things.
One, previous experience has told you that the first 1-5 websites you click on normally give you what you need, so you may as well do that again, rather than scroll for ages through the second and third pages of search results, and so on.
Two, looking at the urls, and titles, your brain can very likely do some quick logic processing and see (perhaps subconsciously!) that they match with what you are looking for. I’d be surprised if anyone does not skim read these urls and titles… but there must be one person out there who diligently reads them all.
Three, there isn’t much else to click on at all, and these were the first results. Sometimes what you are looking for is best found as an image or video or map, and so your next port of call is to click on the “Images” or “News” or “Videos” tab under the search bar, but often Google knows well enough the context of your search and will show some results in that regard if it were appropriate. As an example, if you were to search “frying pan” or “Taylor Swift concert” or “Shane Warne shock death” – I’d wager: 1) trying to shop, 2) maybe finding tickets, and 3) latest news – so they are wise enough to help you be lazy and find what you want as quickly as possible.
second fiddle Organic Results
Today, SEO folk will tell you that if you are not in the top three or four of the SERP’s then you may as well be on page 10 or even page 5,000 and there is some truth in that. It’s not entirely like that, but perhaps 98% of the time they are quite right. I do think a lot of people go to the bottom and click on the “related searches” or at least consider them, and perhaps technically start a new search journey. Or perhaps see something so interesting or important there that they just go somewhere else altogether. For example, maybe they see the “pizza oven kit” idea and then go and put that into Amazon’s internal site search, and look to buy one, or realise they actually want to do a DIY home build, and think YouTube would be better for searching for that than using Google.
My job is to tell you (on this page, there are other parts of SERP’s) that there are a number of ways of getting organic clicks to your business, and so far we’ve just looked at one or two, depending on how you see things. Next we want to look at Map listings, featured snippets, and free Shopping listings. I’ll outline why they must not be ignored, and how they used to be relatively unimportant, but in some industries, they are now the most vital of traffic channels.
The Map pack, via Google My Business
For some reason, SEO folk call the Map results (see corresponding image) as the “Map Pack”. I guess there are better and worse names, but the idea here is your business registers a listing with Google My Business and over time you can compete to appear in the search result that displays a map. A good example, and the one here displayed, is often seen when looking for local results. For example, a “coffee shop near me”, or “hotel in central Paris”, or “dentist”. These results are interesting because if you are doing business in a tiny town in, say Alabama, and you are a dentist, and someone searches for a dentist, you are almost certainly going to appear before the world’s best SEO-ified dentist website from New York to Norway. Because… the Map Pack is interested in showing you local results. ie. ones that can help you find what you want. Who would fly 100 miles, or 10,000 miles for a dentist?! Not a normal person.
To rank on the Map Pack is pretty easy, and it’s just a matter of doing the work, and I outline the basics here, and if you are really struggling to do it alone, then reach out for help. For 99% of businesses just adding a name, a service category, some images, and your opening hours is pretty much “job done”.
featured snippets, intro to schema
Featured Snippets is the kind of term a businessman hears in a meeting and just stares at me like I am one of those folk that drop silly tech vocabulary. He/she doesn’t want to say anything and risk looking stupid, but also looks at me as if I am stupid for speaking a term like that. Without getting bogged down into the beauty and hilarity of the English language – which I’d love to do – let’s just take a look at the image alongside and see what I mean.
A featured snippet is basically when Google shows text from within a webpage and shows you the answer without you even needing to click into it to get your answer. This means the site gets no traffic, and all that comes with it (potential ad revenue, an order, a lead etc). It also speeds things up a lot! I do it for recipes, the time of day in another city, weather, tennis scores, and much much else.
Why are they important? It massively changed search, pushes organic (these are organic, but I mean the “old organic) results down even further, and leads to folks clicking on answers, and then more ansewrs, and then even more, ad infinitum. Important to know: to get into this you need the correct schema markup on the site, good headings (often as questions), and decent answers. It can be a game changer!
Sidebar: Some people call it “Position Zero” as it now sits above the old organic results which began at “Position One”.
Google shopping – the free one
I used to talk about Google Merchant Centre but everyone calls it Google Shopping – and for some reason Google never likes to pick a lane and stick in it. They will often have both their old and new names for products on their live sites, for like years or even decades. I still find the term “Adwords” on their website, even though they renamed it ‘Google Ads’ 6+ years back.
All this to say is that via Google Merchant Centre you can set up Google Shopping ads, and pay for results that look as displayed here. But… importantly, did you know you can also get free listings?! That means, you get awareness for free. Neat, hey?
If you are in e-commerce, or even vaguely can price what you sell or serve to customers, it could be worth exploring, as it’s traffic for free, which isn’t what you normally get in the ecosystem of Search. Learn more about Google Merchant Centre and how it integrates with your site, and in all likelihood I would say run both free and paid listings concurrently. Coupled with search ads, Map ads, and a Remarketing campaign, you can completely dominate the SERP’s.
I’ve helped a ton of businesses rank organically, allowing them to get tonnes of free traffic
“What Mike did for us was far beyond our hopes. We saw fourfold growth in enquiries within weeks because of our new, higher ranking.”
If you would like to see similar results and grow both your visitor numbers and conversions, then please do get in touch.