If you’re starting a new online marketing campaign, or maybe just updating an existing one, your goal is most likely to be “number one.” In fact, other than generating new patient leads that’s probably the most common goal that we hear when speaking with potential clients. But, what exactly does it mean to be number one? Are you referring to an ad, an organic listing, or a local pack result? By familiarizing yourself with the anatomy of a Google SERP (search engine results page), you’ll be able to better adjust your goals and understand your overall online placement.
First come Ads…
When you do a search for something with a decent amount of competition, your first few (up to four) results will typically be ads for which someone has made a top bid. These ads will look a bit different from your typical organic search, and will contain a tiny “ad” symbol to the left of the URL. In addition, these will most likely contain some sort of call to action, pushing a user to a specific landing page for purposes of conversion.
Here’s an example using “urgent care lawrence ma:”
As you can see, the first three results are ads, with the first being the one with the highest bid for this specific key term. If you’re looking to dominate a SERP, Adwords are your best bet for quick action. However, you must continuously monitor the budget of the ad, or else the other competitors could take over your real estate.
Then comes the Local Pack…
As you scroll past the first three ads, you’ll notice that there is a map with up to three listings for various businesses. These are Google My Business (GMB) pages, and contain most of the relevant information for which users may be searching such as name, address, phone number, and appointment URLs. While ad placement is determined by money spent, GMB pages are determined by proximity, authority, and relevancy. At least that’s what Google leads us to believe.
Here’s an example using the same search from above:
While the local pack is a phenomenal method to gain traction, and helpful for voice search, it’s a mystery as to how it will rank. Google states that proximity to your specific location will dictate the first listing, but per research it seems that the other two will be farther away, and focus solely on relevance. So, the most important thing is to keep your listing accurate and up to date with photos, hours, descriptions, services, and whatever else you can add. If you’re a practice with multiple providers, make sure to claim a GMB profile for each to help your chances!
Then Organic rankings…
It’s shocking to see that the most often talked about of all SERP real estate, the organic ranking, is actually the third in line, right? While the saying of “if you’re not first, you’re last” may ring true in a lot of situations, here it’s up for debate. Organic listings have always been, and will continue to be, wildly important to users. These are the most consistent of the SERP links, and will often be the most effective if done correctly. Organic gives you the opportunity to rank multiple pages, and take up more than one spot on a SERP in sequence.
Here’s an example using the same search again:
Notice that the first two spots are dominated by the same location that gained real estate in ads and local pack. That makes 5 spots of real estate in the first 8 positions for the same business! This organic placement is based on how well your site is optimized, so if you’re creating strong content, developing great titles, and utilizing tools such as markup, you can land an organic spot. Not to mention, organic placement tends to stick. While it will may rise and fall due to competition, a consistently optimized site will most likely rank in the top few organic listings at any time.
And Ads round it out.
Just like the top of the page, Ads will close out the SERP with a few results at the bottom of the page. The ranking of these ads depend on the same things as the first group, but will typically be those with a smaller bid in place.
How Can I Get My Practice Ranking?
The most important thing to remember is that Google is always changing and altering the SERP to be user friendly. For that reason, it’s crucial to understand that the “same old things” won’t work all the time. If you have a company like Practis on your side, you should be making consistent updates that will keep your site at the top of the organic listings. However, as you can see above, it’s not all about organic! Make sure that you are paying attention to your offsite listings such as GMB and potentially running a successful ad campaign. While owning one piece of real estate is great, becoming the talk of the town by owning a majority is even better!
Contact us today to learn more and get your practice ahead of your competitors!