Step 1 of search is, of course, the search. That is, the act of the person seeking your service, and their state of mind, behavior, and why they are way more valuable to you than the average person.
Step 2 is the search results page, also called a SERP. We narrowed this down to Page One of Google because this is the page that matters overwhelmingly, and we gave it the acronym POOG.
Step 3 is getting clicks. If you remember from the last article (or want to reread it - click here), there are three places your message can appear on POOG. Getting clicks in these three places involves having a different approach for each.
But first, let’s make sure we understand a click for what it is and for what it is not. You need someone to search, you need your brand and message to appear, you need someone to click on it and then, finally, you must convert them into a live prospect and then into a customer. Each step along this chain is more valuable than the previous and should be maximized. A click is definitely valuable but it isn’t “money” yet. It’s close, though. When you are predictably gaining clicks each week, you are in the Super Bowl arena. Clicks are worth your best efforts.
In AdWords, you have direct control over what appears, within tight parameters, and a good amount of influence over where it appears. “Where” is about bidding and quality score, a moderately complex mix of factors that can be improved with a well-run campaign. Your ad can usually be 1st, 2nd, 3d or 4th for any number of relevant searches as soon as you start a campaign or a short time thereafter. The text of your ad needs to be carefully chosen to get the most clicks from the best searchers. You have a headline, a URL, a phone number if you choose to display one, and a short amount of text. The benefit of displaying a phone number is that sometimes someone will call just from seeing the number (meaning that you’re getting a phone call without paying for a click). Usually this would be from a desktop or laptop computer. If a searcher sees a phone number in a search from a phone, she is most likely to touch it onscreen to activate the phone dialer. This is a “click to call” and does cost your account (but it’s a phone call from a searcher yay, it’s worth it!)
In the example shown, notice how the top advertiser is using price in the text to generate interest and hopefully clicks. There are fully eight discount offers! It follows from the headline and the emphasis on Affordable. The other advertisers in the example emphasize availability, professionalism, range of services, transparency, etc. You can even slip a plug in for yourself in the URL if you can secure a name like TheOnTimePlumber.com or some such. It doesn’t have to be your web address - it can forward.
Let’s move now to the Maps section (aka Google My Biz, Google Plus, Google Plus Local, etc.). Appearing in the top 3, the so-called “snack pack,” is crucial here. But it is not your birthright. It might be nearly impossible for your business, or it might be easy (you might already be there). It depends on how competitive your geographic area and market sector are. If there are 60 listings in Maps (click More places and start counting, 20 on a page) and you’re in position 57, forgettaboutit. If you’re in position 4-10, let’s get to work. There are things we can do (or you can do yourself) that are relatively low cost and are one-time items. But don’t screw this up - you’d be blowing a great opportunity!
More interesting are the reviews. Plenty of studies have already been done on searcher behavior since the change to just 3 listings, down from 7. If you have your stars showing (five reviews or more - hope they’re good!) you get way more clicks than the others in the snack pack. In the example shown, Buddy Mintz Plumbing is trouncing the two competitors in clicks and phone calls from the Maps section - and they’re free!
If your reviews are bad, especially if your competition has good ones, you’ll get the silent treatment instead. Yes, there are things you can do about reviews - either getting more of them or replacing bad ones - but this is a tricky area. Don’t get too clever or Google will ban you to Middle Earth for nearly an eternity.
In the organic search results section, you do have some control over what appears and whether it is persuasive enough to get the searcher to click. We discussed how to get here in the last article. This article is about what the searcher sees. It’s simpler here: Title tag, URL and meta description (body text excerpt). These are controllable on your website using title tags and meta data editor or getting down and dirty - writing code for the pages.
In the example shown, no one is really doing much with their title tag. You could say something in addition to the name of the company and the location to entice more clicks, but appearing 1-4 in the organic results is so good that the four plumbers in this example are probably all extremely busy. Notice that two of the four show phone numbers in their copy, and the first one actually makes the case for why you should choose them over the competition (“friendly, low cost, quality ...“ ) instead of just what they do like, well, plumbing. Use your space wisely you don’t get much.
It’s worth noting that changing title tags and meta descriptions come with some risk that you might lower your ranking. If you’re lucky enough to be sitting in one of these spots, possibly from no extra effort or knowledge other than your foresight to have built a website long ago, I would be careful and let a web professional make any tweaks. The small cost isn’t worth the risk of losing your spot.
The grand finale
Getting clicks takes some attention to these details. In the final installment we’ll discuss what to do with them - how to actually win the Super Bowl once you make it into the arena.