Using Google to Your Advantage

By Shawn Moore, President & CEO, Think Profits.com Inc.

Google is a Beast – But it Can Be Tamed
Google has become the default. Whether you are trying to get the coveted page one position one or outbid your competitors with AdWords, many of us are beholden to the Goliath that is Google. While Google can seem like an insurmountable summit to some, there are actually several ways that your business can take advantage of Google’s dominance.

Google is the world’s largest search engine both for desktop computers and mobile devices. Regardless of whether your business operates within North America, or globally it is in the best interest of your bottom line to be found first on a Google search engine result page (SERP).

Simply having a website is not enough. Even if your website is beautifully designed, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to end up on page one of Google.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising
The quickest way to rank on page one of Google is to run pay-per-click (PPC) ads through Google AdWords. Pay-per-click advertising is just that – an advertising service where you pay a nominal fee each time that a consumer clicks your ad. These PPC ads are positioned at the top of the page as well as at the very bottom.

At the end of February 2016, Google quietly rolled out changes to the way it positions ads for its desktop search engine results page. Previously, users would see ads positioned on the right-hand side of the page, as well as the top three positions in the results list.

With these new changes, ads are only displayed in the top 3-4 positions of the search results list. Depending on the geo-area that you live in and the amount of competition in your industry, ads can also appear at the very bottom of the page.

These updates to the SERP mean that everything before the fold (where you scroll down to see the rest of the page) is a paid advertisement. It is also important to note that there are now MORE organic search results. However, they all appear after the fold.

So with these new changes – PPC ads are now the quickest way to appear first for a Google search. But how can you guarantee that your ads will show before your competitor’s ads?

Google uses a set of parameters to determine who gets the coveted position one. The more of the parameters that you meet, the higher you position. These same parameters also help determine your cost-per-click (CPC).

The parameters which Google uses to determine who has the best ad are as follows:

  1. Whether you have a responsive website (does it shift to fit the particular device it is being viewed on?).
  2. Your website authority and quality score.
  3. What pages your ad is pointing to. It should be directed to a dedicated landing page.
  4. Keyword research and the quality of the content on your landing page.
  5. Whether or not all of your competitors meet the aforementioned criteria.

If that sounds confusing, it is because it can be. Set up ads using Google AdWords is not only a fine art, but it is also a science. Luckily, Google does provide free information videos and the opportunity to become a Google Partner (through a series of tests). If you do not have the time to learn and administer your PPC accounts, there are many digital marketing agencies out there who are PPC experts and can do the dirty work for you.

If you have a little more time on your hands, and you don’t want to incur the monthly cost of running a PPC AdWords campaign your business should set its sights on implementing a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program.

Search Engine Optimization

By optimizing a company’s website with keywords, SEO helps search engines to better identify sites that are relevant to user searches. Careful consideration of keywords will also ensure that a company’s site will be ranked higher organically on Google.

A lot of SEO is done in the back-end development of the website. This means that the keywords you want your website to rank for are carefully placed in the background coding of your site. In addition to this “behind the scenes” work, a strong SEO program also includes SEO landing pages.

A SEO landing page contains keywords and calls-to-action buttons. The language is sometimes “clunky” in comparison to other copywriting pages as a SEO landing page must be written in a way that Google’s robots can understand.

The purpose of a SEO landing page is to prove to the reader and to Google that you are an authority on the keyword topic.

Off page SEO work can also be done. This means ensuring that you have a healthy online presence. Posting to social media platforms and blogging will also greatly increase your SEO rankings.

A Necessary Evil

As you can imagine, both PPC and SEO are time-consuming tasks. However, they are necessary evils if you want your business to compete online and use Google to your advantage.

Hiring an in-house staff to complete these tasks can be an HR headache and costly. Finding a digital marketing agency who can work with your business and collaborate on your PPC and SEO services is a great compromise to help drive traffic to your website and ultimately increase your ROI.