Ever wondered why Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) matter the whole world to web owners. Even with billions of web pages filling up the World Wide Web, why would web owners pull an all out to get noticed by this one particular page?
Simple – SERP is the chief driver of any business you’re likely to find online. It’s the page that connects online visitors to the respective web pages they’re interested in, depending on their search queries.
What are SERPs?
As the name suggests, SERP is a simplified web page provided by search engines, and which lists all the relevant responses to online users every time they enter a query into the search bar. This is the page that shows up with a list of relevant links to sites and web pages befitting your search query.
Usually, search engines will rank the links on these pages based on an algorithm they’ve improvised. Designed to crawl and index every single web page in the internet, the algorithms used strive to ensure the results presented to an online user are as accurate and relevant to their search queries as it’s viscerally possible.
While a good number of web owners understand search engine algorithms and the role they play in online marketing, the public knows so little (if any) about it. This is the case even with the emergence of marketing analysts that have dedicated their life to digging out factors to which the algorithms are framed.
In actual fact, SEO is all about coming up with a marketing strategy that strives to get your site ranked atop in the SERPs. Goes on to show that the more you understand the algorithms, and calibrate your marketing strategy to be in line with the set standards and policies, the more you’ll be favourably ranked in the SERPs.
Speaking of which, as an online marketer, your goal should be:
- Secure a higher ranking in the SERPs
- Gain greater visibility in the SERPs, again
- Drive more traffic through SERPs
- Boost your popularity in the SERPs
- Set up a clear path to a successful brand
The results presented in the SERPs can be broadly classified into two:
- Organic search results
- Inorganic search results
Organic Search Results
Organic search results are the natural results presented to an online user based on their search query. This result are NOT influenced by an ad campaign but by the SEO effort applied in outranking your competitors and secure a favourable spot up the SERPs.
In which case, the better the quality of your content and the more it complies with search engines’ policies and standards, the more it’s likely to secure a prime ranking in the SERPs.
Securing a top slot in the organic search results presented don’t require any form of investment, apart from investing in high quality content coupled with a few SEO tricks. The SEO strategies you employ to generate an impressive amount of organic traffic must include link building, quality content generation, and strategic keyword planning to name a few.
Inorganic Search Results
While SEO can still get you a favourable spot in the SERPs, they’re sometimes NOT fast and reassuring enough. It’s for this reason that web owners shell part of their marketing money for inorganic search results, with an aim of propelling their site or web pages to the elite class first page.
Otherwise referred to as paid search results, these are the artificial respirations awarded to the highest bidder on a set of keywords. So instead of waiting for search engines to parse your online content and rank it accordingly in the SERPs, you simply bid on their respective keywords and secure a top spot without going through all the hassle of churning out great pieces of articles and waiting for search engines to crawl and index it for ranking.
There are numerous way to generate inorganic traffic. Among them there’s PPC and social media promotions and boosting.
So just in case you find yourself ranking poorly on a very important keyword, then consider setting up a PPC ad to climb up the search engine ladder and attain some visibility.
The point is to make sure that you at least appear in the first five search engine results pages. And just in case you cannot be seen anywhere in these pages, make an effort to get yourself featured through PPC as you work on generating great content in the hopes of being organically ranked favourably by search engine algorithms.
If worked right, both SEO and PPC could help you both secure and maintain a favourable spot in the SERPs.
Types of Searches
The searches users make online aren’t all the same. Categorically, there three types of searches users make whenever they’re browsing:
As the name suggests, informational searches refer to the queries where a user is more interested in digging out more information concerning a given topic or subject. For instance, when a user enters the name Lee Kuan Yew into the search bar, all they’re interested in is information on the eminent politician many consider to the father of modern Singapore.
So a web owner running an informative blog or website, placing an ad to direct an online user to an informative site doesn’t make any commercial sense. Meaning all your ranking effort must be directed towards SEO.
Keep in mind that almost all users searching for information have a near-zero intent to buy anything. So unless you’re selling a book or anything of the sort, investing in paid searches isn’t fit for this kind of search.
Navigational queries are often aimed at helping an online user trace a specific website through search engines. What happens is that a user wants to find a particular website they once visited or were recommended to. But since they can’t remember the URL, they choose to play around with the site names and its keyword derivatives and variation, checking on the results to see if it’s among the listed links.
Again, navigational searches aren’t worth investing in PPC. Come to look at it, the user keying in their queries in the search engine bar has already made up their mind on the site they want to visit. All they’re interested in is finding the site they have in mind, and unless they’re able to see the semblance to reconsider their options and settle for an alternative, then there’s no way a paid search is going to influence their decision.
Transactional Searches refer to the kind of queries where the user intends to buy something or take an action at the end of it all. They are the perfect kind of searches that web owners can pay for to be ranked high.
An online user making a transactional search has a high commercial intent. Their search queries may even include keywords that reveal their intention to go through with a product or service purchase. For instance, ‘where to buy’ followed by the name of the product or service they’re interested in.
PPC and SERPs
Unlike SEO, PPC is all about paying to secure a prominent positioning in the SERPs. It’s to be however noted that the process used in determining how one is ranked in the SERPs even after out-bidding all their competitors on a list of keywords isn’t a black and white undertaking.
Several factors do come in play, part of which involves using a special formula that also considers how relevant and useful the content presented is to an online user.
Exactly What You Need to Get to The First Page on Google SERPs
Google is the all-powerful engine that you need to impress to drive organic traffic to your website. The engine is powered by advanced algorithms and bots that crawl the web to determine which sites and pages are the most relevant to the searchers.
With increased attention on user experience, you have to create content that impresses the search engine and resonates with the target audience’s expectations. You should always ask yourself before embarking on writing – what is the audience looking to learn about this topic?
Even though most people don’t trust Google’s results, we, SEO expertise, rely on them to enhance our clients’ website ranking and performance. Getting to the first page may seem unrealistic, especially for small businesses just starting, but it is possible.
By applying Google’s best practices, you can easily climb to the top of the SERPs without spending a fortune. Well, it takes time, but you will soon get there if you follow the actionable tips discussed in this article.
Our main focus will be on two tested and proven strategies of getting to the top of the food chain, namely;
- Website optimisation
- Listing optimisation
Why Strive to Win a Spot on the First Page?
Needless to say, a spot on the first page of Google is a worthwhile goal for any brand that wants to generate massive traffic and sales. Google recently introduced Knowledge Panels, Expanded Related Questions, Local Results, and Answer Boxes to offer the most relevant results to searchers.
The many information packaging methods make ranking on the top worth investing considering the high traffic and click-through rate that websites at the top enjoy.
Once your website is ranked on the first page, you will notice a sharp increase in the click-through rate. Here is a breakdown of CTR as per a recent study by Smart Insights.
- First Result: CTR of 36.4%
- Second Result: CTR of 12.5%
- Third Result: CTR of 9.5%
The CTR drops as you analyse the fourth and fifth results and clocks 2.2% on the 10th result. In most cases, every SERP has ten results, but we have noticed that the results are reducing due to answer boxes, ads, local results, and other features.
The answer boxes, also referred to as Position Zero or featured snippets, are slowly replaced by the top results.
Been ranked at the top position increases your chances of winning a featured snippet. The snippet will not only boost your visibility but also supercharge your credibility.
In terms of traffic share, the highly ranked websites enjoy 33% of all the search traffic related to a keyword. The closer you are to the top of Google, the better your brand authority and search presence.
Below is a summary of the benefits of ranking on the first page of Google.
- Increased brand visibility
- More leads
- Increased engagement
- More organic website traffic
- Enhanced industry authority
- Earn trust and credibility
- Speeds up the sales cycle
- Builds a strong audience genuinely interested in the brand
Let us now look at exactly what you need to get to the first page of Google.
Identify and Target the Right Search Queries
You have been stuck at the back because your content is optimised using the wrong search queries. Carry out extensive keyword research to know the exact phrases that the target customers use to find you or content related to your niche.
The queries can be either single words or phrases. With voice search gaining prominence, you need to focus more on question-based queries also. Here are few examples;
- How to install a new roof
- How to repair a leaky roof
- How to prepare barbecue grill
Check out the “People Also Ask” section on the results page to see which kind of questions to include in your content. They could also give you content ideas for your next on-page or off-page articles. For example, you can decide to focus on five common questions listed in this section in one article.
In the context of normal keywords, each page should be optimised using a different set of keywords to prevent them from competing against each other. Use Google Keyword Planner to start your research.
Inform Google Which Keywords You Used
Google has advanced systems for crawling, indexing and ranking millions of pages in seconds. The results displayed are fetched from its indexed site database, ensuring that the most relevant results are displayed.
Make it easy for Google to index your site using keywords or search queries in the following places.
Every page and blog should have a meta title. Optimise it by formatting it as a header and including one of the keywords.
A meta description is the content displayed below a website title and URL in the SERP. It should also have one keyword.
Besides informing Google what the site or page is all about, it helps searchers decide which results to click on and which ones to ignore. Take the time to write it well and include a subtle call to action to encourage the searcher to click. A properly structured meta description will increase the click-through rate significantly.
Including keywords in the URLs will help Google to decipher the contents of the website fast. Make sure it’s not only optimised but also relevant by matching it with the page title.
Google bots have mastered the art of understanding text. Unfortunately, they cannot interpret images unless you include Alt tags. Like the meta description and other sections discussed, including keywords will boost your page’s relevancy to particular search queries.
Write Content for Humans
In the past, webmasters would focus on creating content that impresses search engines to get to the top of SERPs. Unfortunately, the sites wouldn’t get much sales results even after being ranked highly because the content wasn’t customer-oriented.
Be different by making sure that you create content for humans. Do thorough research to know which type of information the target audience is looking for online. The research will enable you to pinpoint the exact things you should say encourage them to convert.
The only way to get to the first page of Google right now is by providing stellar, useful, trustworthy and easy to read content. This information should be informative and relevant to the audience. The internet is one of the best resources you can use to create quality content for your website. Be sure to include keywords naturally in it to rank.
Target Location-Based Queries
Location-based queries are perfect, especially for local SEO. On the contact page, make sure that you indicate the city or area that your facility is located and the areas that you service. When writing blogs, you can alter the keyword queries by adding the location.
Note that even though the searcher may not type the location in the keyword, Google will serve results based on their location. It uses the IP address to know the searcher’s location. If you have optimised content with location-based keywords, rest assured that your website will be displayed.
Ensure the Website Is Mobile-friendly
4.82 million people in Singapore accessed the internet using mobile phones in 2020. Based on this statistic, websites that were not responsive missed huge opportunities to generate sales. Google and other search engines give more preference to the mobile-friendly website when ranking them.
Website responsiveness is one of the primary ranking factors. In 2021 and beyond, you cannot afford to have a website that is not mobile-friendly. Mobile-first indexing has taken centre stage when it comes to website ranking.
The pages will adapt automatically to different screen sizes without losing their functionality by having a responsive website. Customers will be able to shop and contact the support team while on the go. It’s such a convenience and user experience that will give you an upper hand in the market.
Focus on Providing Delightful and Memorable User-Experiences
What is website user experience?
Website user experience is how a website visitor browses and interacts with the various elements and pages. A poor UX results in a high bounce rate, low conversion rate, and high cart abandonment rate. Carry out A/B tests to identify the performing and non-performing pages.
The latter could be failing to deliver results because they are not providing a good user experience. Google bots will notice the speed at which visitors leave the site and respond by lowering your ranking. Ensure that the navigation is intuitive and functional, include clear CTAs, and create content that answers the visitors’ questions properly.
Like bounce rate, Google will notice that visitors spend more time browsing the site and reward you with a high ranking.
Get a Google My Business Account
Local SEO is of paramount importance, especially if you offer services or products in specific geographical locations. Google My Business is a powerful feature tailored to help local businesses connect with the target customers better.
By creating a GMB account, your site will be displayed whenever people in the areas you service use the target keywords. The local listings displayed by Search and Google Maps rely on GMB data. Make sure that you provide accurate information about your brand when creating the profile.
Indicate the correct physical address and operating hours to help potential customers know when to call or visit your store. Take a moment also to verify your listing so that you can monitor, maintain, and optimise the listing moving forward.
Here is an overview of how to optimise Google My Business profile to rank better.
- Every Section Should be Filled
The more accurate information you provide, the better. It will help Google understand your business’s nature better and consider your site for a spot on the first page. Research shows that GMB listings receive 7X more clicks than the conventional boring and incomplete business listings.
- Ensure the Brand Name is Consistent
You don’t want to confuse the target audience, so make sure that the brand name in the Google My Business profile is the same one on your website. Consistency is key, and even a minor deviation can affect your business negatively.
- Update Information Regularly
If you happen to change office, remember to update the address to inform the customers about finding you. The same case applies to other important sections such as the logo, email address, and phone numbers.
- Upload High-Resolution Photos
The main reason Google developed GMB is to offer customers as much information about local businesses as possible. Uploading high-resolution photos related to your business, such as a team mowing a lawn, will grasp their attention if you own a lawn care company. Product images are also welcome as they will give customers a mental image of the product as they prepare to shop.
Get Your Business Listed on Other Directories
Google My Business is not the only listing platform you can use to connect with customers. There are hundreds of other listings you can use to achieve the same goal, such as Yelp. Yelp receives massive traffic and is trusted by Google, so creating a profile there will boost your site visibility in search engine results pages.
You can also find niche-specific directories to avoid unnecessary competition from businesses that are not related to yours. As mentioned in the GMB part, provide accurate information and if you change anything, make sure that you update it to avoid confusing the customers.
It’s a Wrap
SERPs are nothing more than the result pages presented every time you query your problem into a search bar. These pages feature a series of relevant links for you to filter through and decide which one among the list presented best suits your needs.
This post was created to help you develop a clear understanding of what a SERP really is. But just in case you wish to optimise a PPC campaign and identify the opportunities around you for PPC, then make an effort to check out MediaOne today for help.