Remember “the good ol’ days” when Google search result pages were clean, simple pages with 10 results and a few ads? For better or for worse, those days have disappeared like Severus Snape being confronted with shampoo.
While some users may lament the more cluttered search pages, the “new normal” does offer more opportunities to achieve multiple first page rankings. Controlling multiple first page rankings allows marketers to exert greater control over their brand, reach more searchers, and present a stronger brand to searchers.
This screenshot shows how SEOmoz is able to exert more control over its online brand by controlling 11 of the 13 organic links on Google for its name:
What about multiple listings from the same domain?
In some cases, Google will give a site more than one distinct ranking on the first page of results. This screenshot shows tripadvisor.com controlling the first three distinct listings for “new york attraction reviews”:
This phenomenon, called domain crowding, is more an exception than a rule, though. Our recent domain crowding data shows that Google may be working to reduce domain crowding, so the strategies presented in this article are a more dependable option than working to get multiple Web listings for your main domain.
As shown in the below screenshot, Google often includes image search results on search engine results pages (SERPs). Users that click on an image will often end up on the webpage the image is found on. Traffic from image search usually has lower engagement than Web search traffic, but keep in mind that:
- Image SEO is ignored by many websites, resulting in lower competition.
- Image search visitors can be very relevant in some niches, such as recipes or travel.
To learn more about the optimization and ranking factors relevant to images, watch this Whiteboard Friday on Image SEO.
Local results are integrated into search results in a variety of ways, including map displays, local listing packs, hybrid results, and single local listings (as shown in the above screenshot). Local listings are most useful for businesses with a retail storefront and/or businesses that are primarily targeting a specific geographic area. Local listings are ranked based on a combination of factors related to:
- The Google Places listing
- The website
- Offsite factors (backlinks, structured citations, etc.)
The best source we know of for understanding these ranking factors is David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors.
Google most often shows YouTube videos in search results, but you can also get video listings for videos that are embedded on your site. The former is more likely to give you an extra listing, whereas the latter is more likely to enhance your existing listing. The below screenshot shows an example of a YouTube video and an embedded video being ranked among Google search results.
Want to get a video listing? Start by reading these guides:
- YouTube Ranking Factors – Whiteboard Friday
- Winning the Video Thumbnail in Google Universal Search
- Creating Video Sitemaps for each Video Hosting Platform
For newspapers, high-quality blogs, and other content sites, Google News offers an excellent opportunity to gain additional organic listings and traffic from The Big G. Google News has a specific set of quality and technical guidelines; if your site meets those guidelines, you can submit your articles for inclusion. Google often displays recent news articles for relevant queries, before, after, or in the midst of the Web results:
Google supports two basic types of sitelinks: expanded sitelinks as shown in the above SEOmoz screenshot and standard sitelinks as shown in the above Amazon screenshot. Both types of sitelinks give you more SERP space, more links, and more exposure—win, win, win!
How does Google choose which pages/sites to give sitelinks? Unfortunately, we don’t know a lot about this algorithm. Some items we do know are:
- Google recommends that “for your site’s internal links, make sure you use anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.”
- Unwanted sitelinks can be demoted from within Google Webmaster Tools.
Google’s shopping results are not actually organic, but they look organic and are often presented in the organic results column. (Remember Bing’s Scroogled campaign?) Here is an example of extra listings gained from shopping listings:
Third Party Sites
As demonstrated in the SEOmoz screenshot, high-authority third-party sites can be an effective way to gain another listing in Google search results. There are countless sites that you can use to publish content on to gain rankings; we suggest you start with the high-authority sites that will be most useful for your users. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create/optimize your Facebook page, Google+ page, and/or Twitter profile
- Guest blog on prominent blogs in your industry
- Business profile sites such as MerchantCircle
- Sites in your industry that will provide a company profile page
This, perhaps, is one of the more controversial methods, since it’s been used to game search results many times before. Our advice is to ensure that your “additional domains” strategy is driven first by users, secondly by SEO. Here are several examples of additional domains that have gained extra search listings, but make sense for users:
- Separate domains for specific products, such as SEOmoz’s OpenSiteExplorer.org
- Separate domains for different countries, such as google.com and google.co.uk
- Separate domains for different product lines, such as yamahaoutboards.com and yamahaproaudio.com
Most websites won’t be able to use all eight strategies effectively, but just implementing a couple of these strategies could result in doubling your exposure and traffic. What’s not to love about that?