Earlier this spring, Google Search Engine Results pages (SERPs) on desktop changed – significantly. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of this change on your small business.
First of all, five things changed:
- Google no longer displays right-hand ads.
- A maximum of four paid ads appear at the top of the page.
- Three local company listings then appear on Google maps.
- A list of optimized search results follows.
- Sometimes a handful of additional ads appears on the bottom of the page.
And here’s what they mean to your small business:
You have to appear at the top of the SERP
Because people are notorious about not scrolling all the way down a SERP, your business must appear at the top – at least once.
You need to start buying ads
I’m sure you’re not surprised by that – the online world is increasingly pay-to-play, or, in this case, pay-to-get-seen. Because online ads are both art and science, it’s best to work with a company that is very experienced at creating, placing, and generating terrific results with online ads.
Your ad – even though it’s all text – can include quite a bit of information on four lines:
- A link to your website
- A short explanation of why you’re the only choice
- A call-to-action
- Up to four links to your website – including contact information
- Your physical address or location
You also need to set up your Google My Business account
You’ll need to do this for online ads, but you also need a Google My Business account so you can create your Google listing – and therefore appear in the Maps section at the top of the page. Your Map listing will include your name, how many reviews you have received and your rating, your phone number, and your hours.
If you want to stand out on Maps, get reviews on Google! Make it a habit to ask all new customers to quickly review your company – and always provide a link.
You need to optimize your website for SEO
Websites that play by Google’s search engine optimization rules win. They are more likely to appear on the first SERP, which means they get seen by your customers. Again, work with a company that specializes in SEO and has case studies or customer success stories to prove that they walk the walk.
You need to get quality links back to your website
When your small business is mentioned on a popular website with a great reputation, you also win. The high-quality links from those sites back to your own site send a signal to Google that your small business is important.
Yes, the rules have changed, but your small business can play them. Just remember: When you meet with an online marketing agency, make sure they present you with a game plan for every section on the SERP.
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