A Crash Course in Google Search

Google search terms and tips

Search Engine Advertising. Local SEO. Search Engine Marketing. Search Engine Results Page. PPC. Google Maps.

What do all these terms mean, much less have in common? And why on Earth should you care about them?

What if I told you that today, 4 out of 5 searches on Google have local intent, and these all help your business get found by online searchers. Would that make these terms important to you?

By understanding how Google works to help your business get found on search engines, you can start to build a successful search engine marketing plan for your business. Here’s a breakdown of the important terms you need to know.

What Is Search Engine Marketing?

When a potential customer uses their computer or mobile device, visits the Google search engine, and then enters terms for a product or service they’re looking for, Google returns a set of results in the form of organic links and paid ads on the search engine results page (SERP). This is where you want your business to show up. So how do you do it?

Search engine marketing encompasses two primary tactics: search engine optimization and search engine advertising. Doing both is critical to getting website visits, calls, and leads from search. In fact, 85% of retailers said search marketing, including both paid (PPC) and organic (SEO), was the most effective customer acquisition tactic.

Get Found Through Paid Search Advertising

Paid search engine advertising is also known as PPC advertising. This essentially means buying qualified traffic using paid search listings. Google sponsored ads appear at the top, right-hand side, and even bottom of the search engine results page, and are labeled with the word “Ad” in a green box. With search advertising, you’re able to bid on a set of keywords relevant to your business and then create text ads that appear when someone searches for those keywords. In basic terms, matching their search terms with your keywords enables Google to show your ads to relevant searchers.

So, why should you leverage search advertising to get found? For one, it’s fast — once you set up a campaign, Google can start to show searchers your ads when they are relevant to a keyword search. In addition, you have complete control over the message searchers see when they find your ad, which can help you drive more clicks and website traffic. For these reasons and more, search advertising is a no-brainer for local businesses.

Drive Website Traffic with SEO

So, what about the links that show up that aren’t search engine ads? Those links are the organic search results, or the unpaid results that appear for a given query. These are often the most relevant results for that query as determined by Google’s algorithm.

If you want your website and other pages you own — like your social media pages and local listings — to appear in these organic listings, that’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. While SEO has no outright costs associated with it, the results can build slowly over time — and fluctuating Google algorithms mean your organic results can change rather frequently. In fact, Google just updated its mobile search algorithm to prioritize mobile-friendly sites in its search results, meaning if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you may not show in search results.

Today, you need a variety of SEO tactics on and off your website to boost your presence on Google, including:

  • A mobile-friendly website
  • Website copy and metadata
  • Claimed and optimized local listings like Yelp and Google
  • And, much more

And as a local business, you want to make sure your website, listings, and other sites are optimized for local search by using local keywords and markup that help Google find your site for local searches.

Boost Results with a Google My Business Page

Google+ is not just a social media site; it has a lot of weight in Google search results, too. So, having a business page on Google+ boosts your organic search visibility because Google’s search algorithm immediately indexes updates to your page and features Google business listings in its organic search results. So, it’s important to make sure your page is optimized with keyword-rich content, compelling images, and positive reviews that help your page show up and stand out. If you don’t have a Google+ page or business listing, you can get one using Google My Business.

Getting Started

There are several components to a getting found in Google search, and getting started might feel overwhelming at first. Start with one search tactic at a time and as build out your strategy, you’ll start to get the results you want.

How are you using search marketing to get visits and leads online? Let us know with a comment below.

Andrea Neph

Andrea joined ReachLocal in 2010 as a Campaign Professional. In her time in the Global Services Department, she moved into a Premium Campaign Professional role and then helped launch the Campaign Consultant program in 2012. Andrea will be transitioning into an Executive Accounts role in the spring of 2015 and is excited to grow her knowledge in the digital marketing industry.

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