Understanding the Google Search Results

by Ray Cassidy from Consulting Cumbria

Today, I wanted to start with the basics and give a brief introduction to the parts of the search results that customers see when searching locally or from a mobile device. This should give you a better understanding of what each part of a search results page (often referred to as SERPS) is. So if you are doing any local search marketing, you know what you should be looking at.

Local search marketing is easier than trying to rank internationally, but it is sufficiently complex that it is easy to shoot your business in the foot and disappear from sight if you fall into the many traps that are lurking out there.

Effective Local Online Marketing in 2014: What to Concentrate on First!

For the past 7 years a group of influential search marketers from the USA, Canada, UK, and a sprinkling of Australian and Asian agency owners have cooperated with David Mihm of MOZ Local to analyse what has changed and what is working for local businesses, who are attempting to attract customers through their website. Day after day I speak to business owners who have invested in websites that generate no enquiries, visits, phone calls or sales. And yet there is no real need to be stuck in this trap.

Do You Know What Makes up a Search Page?

This is a screenshot of search results for a Commercial Photographer in Newcastle upon Tyne. It is important to be clear on the 3 different things that will appear on search results found by your customers.

ACTION: Scan this page of results and make a mental note of the Red, yellow and green pairs of boxes.

The paid ads, in red do not concern us here. The green and yellow areas do! When customers search for you they will always get the information in the green box(es) this is the natural organic search results.

If Google decides that the searcher’s intent is probably to go find, or phone up the business in the results, then it will also display the “Local Pack” results… i.e. the familiar pin markers and the small map.

You Can’t Improve What You “Ain’t” Measured!

Do YOU know which searches your business shows up for? This is commercially IMPORTANT information! All of your online marketing should start from knowing what your customer is looking for and how visible you are to them. Here’s 1 way to start finding out where you are in the food chain.


1) Write down a list of 4 words or phrases that your customers use to find you online. Make sure you also include the town or the area where you want to be found (as in the example above or Durham employment law specialist). Be specific about the specialities that you offer… those searches are much more likely to be buyers!

2) Make sure your computer is signed OUT of any Gmail, Google+ or any other Google services you commonly use. In fact use a different browser to the one you normally use. Even better, use an ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ browser, which is an option that comes with most browser. This will ensure Google doesn’t use information from previous websites you have visited to influence the results.

3) Type the first search term into Google.co.uk and see what results come up. DON’T CLICK on any of the results, just use the scroll bar to see who’s showing up where. If you don’t appear on the 1st page click through to the second page.

4) If you are top of the 1st page; go out and buy a celebratory drink! Just before you nip out though… repeat the process for the other 4 searches!

5) Next to the notes of the search terms, write O if you show up in the organic results blocks and which number down the page you are: or L if you appear in the Local Pack and a number to show how far down the list you are. Write N if you don’t appear on the first 2 pages.  Here are 2 examples.

6) Clearly here the top company’s SEO is much more successful. If you have signposted SEO as an area of marketing you want to concentrate on, then you need to do more research on how to improve things. Keep up to date by reading the tips and tricks posted about SEO on atomic, and check out the Beginner’s Corner, for a beginner’s SEO guide.