Once upon a time, website owners were constantly bombarded with wannabe SEO “experts” namely from another country that could promise to rank them number one in Google. A lot of people took it for what it was: a steaming pile of bull; while some went along with this expert and may have got some rankings but only for a very short term. After which, Google had wised up that yet another fool was gaming the system and dropped the offending website from its listings.
You don’t really get that nowadays, do you? There is a reason for that: The natural listings for Google now start halfway down the page.
It was an ideal world when you could rank your website with little or no effort without having to pay a penny, but since then Google (et al) came up with Cost-per-click where adverts were made for specific keyphrases and you just pay when someone clicks onto your ad.
To make things more difficult, the search engines other branches including, videos, images and business search. Great news for the searcher, not so great for the website owner.
Let me give you an example: We have recently had our patio laid so the trade is still quite fresh in my mind, so let’s do a Google search for “Landscape Gardeners in Colchester”
Ok, the top 4 positions are all paid adverts. All well tailored to match my query and to help me make an informed choice. Google have also identified that I am looking for a trade in a specific area so they’ve also included a map showing some of the local businesses in that specific area, couresy of Google MyBusiness. But this is the first page, above the fold and so far there is no sign of any natural search listings yet. So lets come down the page.
So Google My Business (Used to be Google Places) list the top 3 landscapers in Colchester and provides a link to their website and directions. Below that begins the first top 10 listing of the organic listings followed by 3 more paid adverts at the bottom of the first page. I might add, that the number one listing in hese results is a directory of tradesmen in that local area.
Lets try another example: I do a lot of work for an office furniture supplier. My son could do with a snazzy new student desk, so let’s try with “student desk uk”.
A slightly different format as I am searching for an object not a company but Google assumes that I might be looking to buy a desk so other than the top 2 listings being paid adverts once again Google have also provided a little box listing the top products for Student desks for the UK from their shopping channel. These are also paid ads also known as PLA’s (Product Listing Ads).
the number 3 position in this case (circled above) is now the top natural listing which is Amazon, followed by Argos, Ikea and then Desk Warehouse.
Ok one last try, another company fresh in my mind, Videographers in Colchester once again. Zap.
Now this is interesting. A videographer in Colchester is named again courtesy of Google My Business (this is a full profile). Below they list similar companies that people have listed for. But the top 4 adverts are (you guessed it) paid adverts.
I should add that when I did the same search yesterday there were only 2 adverts listed,mainly because by early evening, most people’s daily budgets have been reached. Even so, top of the natural listings is by no means top.
So why would you now pay to be top of the Google search results when in effect the top is halfway down? Simple answer: you wouldn’t.
If you really are advertising your company on a tight budget, then Google My Business is your best bet. If done correctly this will get you on the first page for your trade and area, but if top is your sole aim, then contact an AdWords specialist (preferably a certified one) and heed everything they tell you.
Hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll be listed on there as well.