We often get asked by clients about search results pages on Google. Obviously this is a very important issue because being found on search engines like Google is critical to any company’s online success.
I’ve put together this article to explain in layman’s terms how it all works and what the different components of a search results page are – with links to other articles for further information about the topic. For an in-depth more technical overview click here.
Whilst the image below shows a typical search results page, for certain searches, only certain parts may display, but it is important to understand what each section represents and where Google gets the information from.
The Search Term
This is the term that the user inserts in to the search bar when searching. It is very important to understand that even a small change in the search term can render completely different results. People often say ‘we are not on the top of the page when searching on google’ – this statement makes no sense unless a specific search term is given.
Another thing that is important to know is that search results will differ for a person searching in different geographic locations – a person searching for appliance repairs in Johannesburg will get completely results to a person searching in Cape Town.
This is how Google makes its money. Companies pay for adverts which display in search results (at the top and/or the bottom of a search results page. Where a company’s Ad appears depends on their budget, CTC (cost per click) setting, and their advertising strategy. For more information see AdWords tutorial from Google – How AdWords works.
Google Business Places
For certain search requests (particularly searches relating to finding service suppliers or products) Google will also show a map with businesses in the area where the person is searching from, or the area that is the subject of their search. eg. ‘pizza in cape town’ or ‘appliance repairs cape town’.
These results are derived from places that have been listed and verified through Google Business.
When you click on these results further information about these businesses will be displayed as per the image below. Where appropriate you can suggest an edit to the information provided, and if you have registered the business on Google Business you will be able to update images and other business information after logging in to your account.
To visit Google Business and get your business listed click here.
Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing—so you can stand out, and bring customers in.
Organic Search Engine Results
This is where search engine optimisation comes in.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.
All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads such as Google AdWords.
At Plusto we include Search Engine Optimisation and ensure that our websites are search engine friendly when we build them.
Once we complete a website and it goes live we include meta titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords in to the website code and upload a site map and submit the website to Google for indexing. This allows Google to understand what the website is about so that it can start displaying it for appropriate searches in its search results pages.
The whole website should be indexed within 3-5 days of being submitted, but it takes some time to get a good indication of where the website will rank for various search terms – Google has over 240 variables that it uses in its algorithm, and the algorithm changes periodically. One of the variables is the time that the website has been live, and so we always suggest that you wait at least 2 – 3 months to get a real indication of search engine results.
Another important factor is the frequency at which changes are made on the website – Google’s responsibility is to ensure that it provides relevant and updated information to people searching – and so if no changes are made for lengthy periods of time (say 3 months), and other competing websites have made changes, Google will obviously see them as more up to date and rank them accordingly.
Google will also prioritise mobile responsive websites over non-mobile websites when a user is searching on a mobile device. For more information see The importance of responsive design.
We hope that helps you understand Google search results pages. If you have require additional information please let us know so that we can assist and add it to this article.