Google has long been king of the search engine jungle, with the company holding onto roughly 72 percent of the market.

As a small business owner, it’s critical to learn as much as possible about Google as a search engine. With this knowledge, you’ll find yourself in position to make informed decisions to help drive traffic (and hopefully sales and revenue) to your website.

With this in mind, you must understand what you (and potential customers) see when completing a Google search.

Sponsored Ads

To start, sponsored ads are listed at the top (and often the bottom) of the search results.

Thanks to Google AdWords, you can pay for your company’s website to show up in the search results, as opposed to relying solely on organic rankings.

Here’s what Google has to say about its AdWords service:

Be seen by customers at the very moment that they’re searching on Google for the things you offer.

Simply put, AdWords provides more control over when and how your website is displayed in the search results.

Google Local Business Listings

Depending on the keywords, Google may also provide local business listings.

If you’re interested in showing up here – and you should be – it’s time to turn your attention to Google My Business.

Google shares the following on this service:

Show up when customers search for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. Google My Business lets you post updates to showcase what’s new, respond to reviews to build loyalty and add photos to highlight what makes your business special.

So, when someone searches a related keyword, you have the opportunity for your business to show up in the search results, complete with:

  • Company name
  • Reviews
  • Address
  • Operating hours
  • Contact information

Organic Search Results

The 10 results beneath the sponsored ads and local business listings are determined by the Google algorithm.

There are many things that determine where your site ranks for particular keywords, including but not limited to:

  • Content quality
  • On-page SEO factors, such as the use of title tags and keywords in the content
  • Off-page SEO factors, such as backlinks (quality is better than quantity)

To better understand how Google determines search results, check out the Moz Google Algorithm Change History guide.

While it’s not easy to reach the top of Google for competitive keywords (or any keywords for that matter), doing so can go a long way in generating free, targeted traffic.

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. And last of all, if any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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