SERPs and small business marketing…

When you type a keyword into Google and hit search, the next screen shows what is called a ‘SERP’ or Search Engine Ranking Page. Google presents a list of websites in the order it deems as most relevant for the particular search that you made.

There is usually more than one page of results and you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how many additional pages of results are available.

The term ‘SERP’ is also used as a metric. If someone refers to your “website SERPs” – they are referring to the position of your website within the results pages.

Due to the fact that only 94 per cent of internet users only ever look at the first page of results, it’s very important for your business to have a page one SERP if you want to compete in the global market. Quite simply because if you don’t, it’s unlikely your website will be found by the people that are looking for you.

(There’s an exception to this rule in local retailers or service providers, who can achieve a first-page result for location-specific search terms, but more on this in an upcoming post.)

There are two options to achieve this page one status: paid or organic. Both are used in small business marketing in different ways. Let us explain…

Organic rankings are achieved ‘naturally’ and can also be referred to as ‘natural rankings’. This means that Google’s algorithm has determined that your website is relevant for a specific search term and your site has been listed on page o thanks to its own merits rather than anything you’ve paid for.

That is, you have been rewarded with a high SERP because your site is built well, features keywords in page titles, blog posts and file names, includes unique and useful content and links only to reputable third-party websites.

It should be noted however, that it does take time to achieve and then maintain a page one organic ranking, particularly in a competitive market. Not only do the website foundations need to be strong to begin with, but you will need to be willing to invest in ongoing SEO to ensure your rankings continue to build.

So what you can do in the mean time?

Paid rankings are the alternative. All search engines offer paid spots within their search engine ranking pages where you can pay to advertise your site in a top spot.

Within Google’s search results, there are two options:

  1. At the top of the page (indicated by a shaded area),
  2. Down the right-hand column of the first results page.

Typically these ads are purchased through a bidding system, where the highest bidder gets the top spot. Fortunately you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your site, which is known as ‘PPC’, or Pay Per Click.

One would initially think that the main difference between organic and paid rankings is cost, however it’s important to note that both do require an ongoing investment. What’s more important is to consider user behaviour.

For example, shoppers tend to click on paid ads at the top or side of the page, while people conducting research prefer organically ranked sites. In the eyes of a consumer, generally organic rankings are considered to be more ‘relevant and reliable’ than paid rankings.

Once your website design is complete, think about how you’d like potential customers and clients to find you online. Do you want to focus on organic rankings? Or, would you like to see your site on page one more quickly and give paid ads a try?

We can help you with a strategy – just give us a buzz.

Google offers one more option for your business… stay tuned for our next blog post to find out more.

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