Why your small business simply has to be on the first page of Google
Sometimes you type in your company name, and it doesn’t appear at the top of a Google search. And even worse, when you type in your service, like ‘pool cleaning service’, you don’t even show up at all.
Research has shown that nearly 80% of all clicks in Google happen on the first page of search results. When did you last press ‘next page’? There is an old joke that goes “Where can you hide a body so it never gets found? On page two of Google”. This means if you want to be found, you need to come up in the top 10 search results, and preferably in the top 3.
There are two ways to make sure you are seen on the front page of a Google search: organic and paid.
Let’s look at organic search first. This is where Google will decide which websites to display as a result of a search. We are all familiar with this – when we search ‘restaurants in Durban’ we get 11 million results, and in an order decided by Google.
Google uses a very complex mathematical formula, with over 200 criteria, to try and get websites that they think their users will find useful and relevant to the top their searches. This algorithm is secret, and constantly changing, so it is impossible to know exactly how to set up your site.
There is a process called Search Engine Optimisation, which assesses your website to make sure it has the best chance of being picked up by Google. There are free scanning services, like Yoast, which you should use as a matter of course. It will pick up basic errors in your site structure and content which work against you, but will not guarantee that you will pop to the top.
In reality, it is very difficult for small businesses to rank highly in Google organically. You may be lucky and be in a very specialized field, or have a very strong brand that people look for specifically, but for the most part it takes and enormous amount of work (like writing useful articles all the time) that make this not a practical strategy. The best you can hope for is that if people search for your business name exactly you will come out near the top.
Paid search is like the name suggests – you pay to come up on the first or second page of Google Searches. This is a sad reality, but if you want to be in the game you often have to buy your way in. This is not Google’s primary source of income for no reason!
You will recognize paid advertising as the list of sites listed to the right of the search page, and some of the websites on top of the page with a yellow ‘Ad’ in front.
The trick with paid search is to only ‘buy’ for the terms that people are looking for that are relevant to your business. Unless you are very well known, people are less likely to be searching your business name than the service you provide. If you are a tutor, you want to be seen when people search ‘maths tutors in Sandon’.
The second part of this is to pay as little as possible for each time a person clicks on your advert. There is a way that Google works out the price for each time your website if clicked through paid search, and understanding this gets your price down.
It is difficult to get this balance right, and getting some professional help can save you a lot of money in the long run.
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