Giving Searchers What They Want

To understand both the subjects of search engine optimization and Google Ads, you need to know a little bit about how Google presents its search results.

When a person conducts a search, Google has to decide what to show them. Obviously, they want to show them the best, most relevant results so that the person loves Google and wants to keep using the search engine.

But how does Google know what a person is really looking for? How does Google know the searcher’s true intent?

And, also, how does Google know how to deliver exactly what that person wants in a way that is easy for that person to instantly understand?

Google Computer Magic

Google has an insane amount of computing power—massive supercomputers tied together that can process more information than almost any other company in existence. And it uses these to perform incredibly complex calculations about each person searching for something—billions and billions of searches. 

Amazing right? They have built their company around incredible computer science that understands what you’re looking for, scours the entire internet and then presents it to you in an easy-to-understand format. 

Without getting into the complex calculations behind it (because we don’t understand them ourselves), suffice to say that Google has some of the advanced computers in the world trying to understand whether you’re searching for the word “dentist” because you have a toothache or because you’re considering going to dental school.

When they present their results, they want it to be intuitive. Even if you don’t understand each part of the page, you will find what you’re looking for and be happy about it.

Think about it—there’s no instruction manual or directions for Google, yet everyone still uses it all the time. And that’s kind of the great part of Google: it just works even when you don’t know how.

However, we’re going to peel back the curtain just a little bit so you can understand how to use it in your marketing. 

What are Search Results?

First, what are search results? 

When someone types something into Google they’d like to search for, that’s called a “search query.” This is sort of the “question” they’re asking Google, which they’d like an answer to. 

Google then goes through a process of computer calculations to determine the searcher’s intent—not just the words they typed in but what they were really looking for. This means it considers things like the way you phrased the words, your location, the type of device you’re using, etc.  

It then does more computer calculations to determine which results would be most relevant to this exact search. 

It then does a final set of complex calculations which display a beautifully arranged page with the best possible answers to your search query—the websites containing the information you’re looking for. This page is specifically arranged to present customized answers for your specific search.

Each section of this page has a different purpose and features a totally different type of results. Understanding these sections allows you to know how to rank for the most real estate on Google’s results pages.

The Three Main Sections of a Google Results Page

Let’s say you’re in Chicago and you search “physical therapist.” You are going to see three different primary parts of the search results:

  1. Paid Ads Section. Google reserves the top spots for advertisers paying to be there through Google Ads. Who ranks here is controlled by a totally different set of computer computations. Fundamentally, the top spots go to the highest bidder with the best quality ad.
  2. Local Search Results. The local search results are taken from Google Maps. These are all the different physical therapists directly around me in Chicago. Google shows me the first three but if I click on “More Places,” I can see hundreds of local physical therapists around where I’m located in Chicago. The local search results are designed to provide me with local places I’m probably looking for if I search “physical therapist.”
  3. Organic Search Results. The organic search results are what you might consider the “regular” search results. The organic search results are the websites Google might think I’m looking for, without specifically focusing on local businesses. In our example, Google is saying that I might want to see the American Physical Therapy Association, or perhaps a definition of physical therapist from WebMD, or maybe a career as a physical therapist. 

Google has to try to guess at my intent and so it shows me the results that are most likely relevant to me. The local search results would be most applicable if I were actually searching for a physical therapist nearby. However, the organic search results would be best if I were researching the general topic of physical therapists, like finding out what they do or what their average salary is.

Getting The Most Traffic From Google

Obviously, the higher you rank, the more traffic you get. In fact, though exact numbers vary, the top spot for a given search might get 33 to 39 percent of the traffic for a given search, whereas the number two spot for that same search might only get 18 percent and the number three spot might get only 10 percent of the total traffic.

And this can mean the difference in tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In search engine marketing, the goal is to rank as high as possible for as many different places on Google’s search results page as you can. And what are the tools you use to do this?

  • Google Ads. By paying for Google Ads, you can get the top spots of the search results—the place where most people look first. Done right, this can be a source of immediate high-quality leads without having to build a high-ranking web presence through SEO. Learn more about using Google Ads for your business. [Link to Google Ads page.]
  • Local Search Optimization. When their Google map listing is optimized, local businesses like dentists or restaurants can show up in the map portion of the search results. When people find you instead of your competitors, this can be a huge source of new business.  Learn how to rank your business in the map results with local search optimization. [Link to Search Engine Optimization page.]
  • Organic or “National” SEO. Companies that service customers from a wide geographic zone want to rank at the top of Google’s organic results for their niche. Organic, or national SEO, is an investment in long-term profitability that can totally transform their sales volume. Learn how to rank your website on Google with national SEO. [Link to Search Engine Optimization page.]

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