Understanding Paid, Local, Organic Listings

SERP page results

Did you know that there are three places your business can appear on the first page of Google’s search results? Specifically, paid, local and organic listings. That’s a lot of opportunity (and competition) for placement on search engine results pages (or SERPs, as us acronym-loving digital marketers call them). Having an agency that understands how they work – and don’t work – is the cornerstone of your digital strategy.

You want your business to appear on the first SERP. So do all of your competitors. Fortunately, you have three avenues in which to make that happen.

  • Expanded Text Ads: These are paid listings, administered through AdWords. You’ll want to target relevant keywords when you set your campaign up, monitor your bids to keep a strong ROI and periodically add negative keywords to ensure you’re getting quality clicks instead of junk traffic.
    If you have the budget, this is the easiest way to appear at the top of SERP. Even small budgets get traction in AdWords, with limited, targeted exposure.
    Essentially, these are just larger versions of the text ads that appear at the bottom of the first page of organic results. Both are paid placement, based on keyword strategies and budgets.
  • Google Local Pack: These limited listings feature links to businesses’ websites, a click-to-call button as well as user-sourced information, including your business’s rating and price information. They also frequently appear in Google Assistant searches.
    Local pack results are a combination of the searcher’s proximity to each location and standard search engine organic results placement. This means that folks searching on their phones half a block away from your business are almost guaranteed to see you in them. People searching in China? Not so much.
  • Organic Results: Organic results are the “traditional” approach to search. Google sorts bazillions of pages, indexes them based on a super-secret algorithm, then matches your search to its index. If you were using Yahoo or Lycos or Infoseek in the ’90s, you were getting nothing but organic results.
    Appearing organically the first SERP can be tough, particularly for general keywords. Search Engine Optimization, including targeting keywords with meta descriptions, headlines and relevant content, can help you climb in organic rankings.
    In order to provide individual users with results tailored to their interests, Google now lets your browsing history (if you’re logged into a Google account) influence organic results, which means virtually all users can, at least theoretically, receive different organic results.

SEO is a long-term process, so you’ll need to develop a strategy that incorporates each element of search results to get the best return on your investment. It’s also important to understand the strategy – and individual strengths – of SERP marketing.