Google’s Search Results Explained

Today in the beautiful world of walking through how the web works I’ll give you a concise overview of the various types of search results available on a typical Google search. This may seem like old hat to many the reader, but I assure you I get quite a few inquiries regarding what the “top” of the search results means.

First, let’s take a look at the results for today’s search for pittsburgh web designer.

a screenshot of a search results page where paid ads are clearly separated from organic listings
The results for our search query, with some highlights to help move along the explanation.

So allow your eyes to move beyond the search box and the navigation (web, news, images, etc.) there and into the main body area of the page. The first thing you’ll notice is the area with the peach background. That is one of two paid advertisement blocks. Companies pay to get their results to show up there, typically because their sites don’t have enough clout to rise to the top of the organic section, which we’ll cover next.

There are two places paid ads can appear: here in the peach area, and all of those smaller blocks of text to the right.

Below the peach area are the organic search results. These are what we’re talking about when we say “you want to be at the top of Google’s search results”. In this example, is #2 and is in the #1 spot.

Organic results are much more desirable because they don’t cost anything, yeah, but also they’re generally seen as more reliable. Many users, if not most, skip right over those peach ads and move onto these organic results because they’re generally more trustworthy. Getting to the top of this section means Google has deemed your site the most valuable, you didn’t just pay money to show up. Democracy, not capitalism, wins the game.

Not that paid ads are bad, in any way. Of course, they cost money, but they’re a great way to get your foot in the door and try and drum up some business while you’re learning more about SEO and what it can do for your business.

So now you’re wondering how to learn more about SEO? We’ve got you covered!

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