“How do I get on page 1 of Google?”

One of the most common questions we get as Google Partners and AdWords Certified Rockstars (real title) is: “How do I get my business on page 1 of Google?”

Right up there with questions like:
“You guys do SEO ads and stuff right?”
“I want to increase my business growth, you can help me do that with SEO right?”
“Oh, Google AdWords, you mean like SEO?”

Just an example of real questions we get from people, businesses, and companies both in the industry and outside.

So I got to thinking, maybe it’s time to help take a journey into SEO vs SEM for those of you who aren’t sure what that means. Too many misconceptions about these subjects exist amongst even the digital marketing community and it comes down to not educating ourselves, or dismissing the practices. If you’re looking at those two acronyms and thinking, “what’s the difference?” – the answer is a whole heck of a lot.

Read on intrepid traveler as we get down to business. Let’s start with the simple stuff:

What Is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice or method of optimizing a website through its individual pages to increase organic traffic or visits from the search results.

SEO is used to attract free, relevant and interested traffic to your website from organic search results, those that are looking for your products or services. This is accomplished through optimizing for targeted keywords your audience would be looking for in relevant and well-crafted content. Contrary to common misconception, search engine crawlers aren’t ranking your website as a whole, instead ranking individual pages – meaning your individual page structure is very important.

There are many factors in how you can improve your SEO, which will correlate to the page and placement you appear on in a search, or Search Engine Response Position (SERP). The common way to understand these factors is to apply the two main concepts that cover SEO: “On-site SEO” and “Off-site SEO”. Over time this process, when done diligently and with continued improvement, will get you on page 1 of Google – but it’s no easy task and will always be out ranked by well crafted ads.

On-site SEO:

Rules and manipulations that you can apply directly to your website, through content and pages that are “search engine friendly”. Good blog content, website content and relevant articles with appropriate structure, keyword density, word count, in article links – all of which can help improve your position. Best practices that you can learn and work with over time.

This refers to using good keyword targeted optimized titles, strong descriptions, relevant content, proper use of ‘Headers’, images, and a few other practices.

Off-site SEO:

Essentially getting support from other web sites in the form of links and credibility, in order to build confidence with the search engine crawler. To take that a little further, it’s more about the quality and relevancy of the links pointing to your website, and not volume.

Another way to look at this process, think of it as Link Building – placing your website and information on other websites where they have listings. Not too different than the old yellow pages concept, only online directories instead – Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, BBB, Canpages… so on. The practice considers the completeness of external links, and consistency of the same.

Will SEO grow my business?

The answer is yes. It is free, and does take time, but the long-term strategy will give you better SERP which means you’ll be more prominent in organic results. The common user views a first page search position as one of being trusted, which isn’t always the case, and this assumption drives clicks. Also evidence that this is very important – 80% of users don’t go past page 1 of Google’s search results.


What Is SEM?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing (also known as PPC, or Pay Per Click) is a marketing strategy that is a component of larger scale strategies that embodies paid search engine advertising. When done right, SEM can have your business or products place above all other things in a search result and prepared in a fashion that answers the question posed by the searcher. Giving you a lot of control over what is shown and provides a range of options for what kind of advertising can be implemented.

SEM is primarily used to reach, target, and capture specific and relevant traffic, answering a search query and delivering a solution or product that the user is looking for – ideally on the advertiser’s website or landing page. Geared towards a higher intent audience that is searching for a product or service on a search engine, which makes this method a very valuable source of high converting web traffic. This method also gives you higher visibility since it places your ad ‘above the fold’, or in the top of the search results page, where the majority of clicks happen.

While many search engines have versions of this, the most popular is the AdWords platform on Google – and for perspective, nearly 90% of all clicks happen in the ads section. AdWords offers a plethora of targeting tools to make sure you’re reaching the right people in the many advertising versions, on search engines it targets keywords with consideration to demographic and audience insights. Targeting options that you can really get detailed into to get that page 1 of Google listing:

  • Time of the day
  • Day of the week
  • Geographic location
  • Language used
  • Devices used

The process, while detailed and involved, comes down to bidding on keywords in a live auction that in part determines placement of the ad. Other factors are landing page/website relevancy, ad copy and completion, and bidding. The auction happens after the user hits search, in the auction the algorithms calculate the best ad to show and the ‘winner’ of the auction (determining ad placement) only pays $0.01 more than the advertiser they ‘outbid’ regardless of how much they are willing to bid on that keyword.

Which one of these methods is best to get your business on page 1 of Google?

Now, if you’re thinking “this sounds complicated, I need help” – you need to give us a call or fire us an email and we’d be more than happy to walk you through the different SERP improvement methods, their benefits, and how best to use them for your business.

Supporting Articles:
Reliable Soft: What is the difference between SEO and SEM
Lyfe Marketing: SEO vs SEM: Which is Better for Your Business?
Images Used:
by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash
by Roman Mager on Unsplash
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