By now, most local business owners have been approached by someone offering to “put their website at the top of Google”. While this simple sales pitch has landed many clients to many marketers, it has also caused many small business owners to spend loads of money on advertising which didn’t perform as expected.
Allow me to explain…
Right at the top of any Google search you have a number of paid advertisements. And in most cases, that is what the term “on top of Google” means. it means that you have to pay for every click someone makes to visit your website, often after you jumped through hoops to satisfy the quality requirements of Google ads.
So yes, you can be “at the top of Google” immediately. But aside from having to pay for each click (which can be substantial), you also have to keep paying the monthly fee – or proportional fee – for your “Google ads expert”.
However, the ideal is to not be at the top of the results page, but at the top of Google’s actual search results. Once you get there, the traffic you get to your website is free.
Not to mention that – since most people know by now that those are ads, the click through rate of those ads are a LOT lower than those of the actual search results.
Crucial Google search statistics:
1. The average click through rate for Google ads vary between 3 and 5% depending on the niche.
2. The first result in Google search gets roughly 30% of all clicks, and the first 5 results get around 65% of all clicks. Even the 3rd result gets ten percent of all clicks, which is still double than what the Google ads receive.
That means that – even if you pay to “be at the top of Google”, your competitor in the first position receives around 6 times as much traffic to their website.
In short: Even though you pay to be “at the top of Google”, you are still worse off than the website in position number 3 or 4 of the search results.
How can you get your local business website to the top of the Google search results?
Depending on how tough the competition is in your niche and your area, you may need some professional help with this. However, the basic principles are simple:
1. What are people searching for when they need to find you?
Many small business owners get this wrong. They think in terms of what they offer – but in reality that could differ quite a bit from what people who need them, search for.
For instance: A nurse is looking for a new job. You run a recruitment agency that specializes in recruiting nurses, doctors and other medical staff. However, on your website you simply talk about “healthcare professionals”.
Will that nurse be searching for “healthcare professional jobs”? No, she will be looking for “RN jobs or LPN jobs or nursing jobs”.
If your website does not specifically refer to jobs for nurses, even if not on the home page, Google will still be able to understand what you do, but you will feature lower in the search results – purely because websites that have the actual search terms in their content are assumed to be more relevant.
Fair enough, just mentioning the term casually will not miraculously put you at the top of the search results. You will have to write at least SOME content about it for Google to take you seriously.
But if the term is not there at all, don’t expect Google to shower you with love for something you don’t have on your website.
2. Include your location:
Google has a complex – and often weird – system of ranking websites. If someone in a small town does a search for some type of local business without adding the location, they will see similar businesses from elsewhere too.
However, once they add the location, they only see results which contain references to that location.
So when you mention your exact location – as well as maybe some adjacent areas you serve – you can show up for those searches.
3. Set up a Google Business profile:
The part the public sees during a local search is referred to as Google Places. The information that feeds those results is referred to as your Google Business profile.
These results are also displayed above the actual search results – so people will see those before they even start looking at the websites in the results.
As long as you mention everything you offer, and in which areas, it is relatively easy to show up in local search, even if not at the top of the list. Many people explore these results, partly because they come with directions via Google Maps.
Note: In order for this listing to show up, you need to verify your physical address. Google sends a postcard to your address which contains a verification code – which you have to enter before your listing goes live on Google.
4. Have multiple points of entry:
Every additional page you add is another page that can rank in Google – even if not at the top – and attract visitors to your website. if you don’t want to create a blog – which requires consistent writing – you can still add static information pages on specific topics that potential customers or clients search for.
Alternatively, you can create a page with frequently asked questions, and answer each question on a separate page. But do note that if you do that, the answer should ideally be a few hundred words long if you want Google to index it.
The aim is to not only be visible for your main keyword phrase, but for everything that your prospects are search for.
It’s easy to fall for the “at the top of Google” sales pitch. However, it cannot compare to being in the top of the actual search results – which sends a LOT more visitors to your website, and puts a lot more money in your pocket.
Unless, of course, there are so many people searching for that specific term that even getting 3% of that traffic is enough to sustain your business. But when that happens, you are usually likely to find that the cost per click is a bit on the steep side.
Fair enough, getting in to the higher search results takes time. It takes effort and/or money too. But once you are there, you get a lot more visitors than the people running ads.
Plus, once you get your website to that position, you no longer have to pay month after month for the visitors you get. Yes, from time to time you may want to do some work to maintain your search results position, but that would be like twice a year or so.
So, in short:
By getting yourself to the top of the actual google search results, you not only get more traffic, but eventually it will cost you a lot less to get it.