Nowadays, when a consumer seeks out information about a business, or anything really, they know that they can turn to Google and likely find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. The moment a search in conducted, Google’s machine learning technology analyzes the search and determines the results that best fit the query.

There’s many factors that come into play when Google determines what content will show up in a search and how it will appear. Each unique search may display a different variation of results, depending on the searcher’s location, search history, device or time of day. Here are a few of the more common types of search results and tips for how you can get your business to show up in them.

Paid Ads

The results that appear at the top of a page following a search are generally ads. Ads display a green “Ad” rectangle to the left of a URL (shown below), so as not to confuse the searcher with organic results.

Getting your small business website to appear at the top of search results can seem impossible, but Google’s ad platform offers an opportunity to do so. Businesses can set up a Google AdWords account and “bid” on different keywords related to their business through an auction-like format. The auction takes into account bid amounts as well as the quality score of the linked page within the advertisement.

Each time someone clicks on your ad, you’ll pay a fee. The higher Google deems a page’s quality score, the lower the cost per click of the advertisement.

Knowledge Graph Panel

When someone searches for your business directly, or something very closely related, the knowledge panel will appear on the right side of the screen. It highlights a number of things, including reviews, address, hours and phone number.

First and foremost, you need to make sure that all of this information is correct. The last thing you want is a customer searching for you on Google, only to find an incorrect phone number or hours of operation.

To do this, you must claim your Google My Business listing. It’s completely free and very user-friendly. Once claimed, you should input as much information about your business as you can, including photos, videos, special offers and more.

Local 3 Pack

When a search is made on Google that involves a location, the results populate with a map and three separate listings related to the search. For example, if I search for BBQ places in Nashville, here’s what appears:

These listings are almost exclusively dependent on location. To appear in these results, you again need to make sure that you’ve claimed and optimized your GMB listing with all of the correct information. You should also work to obtain a good amount of positive reviews, as places with higher star ratings tend to rank higher, as it indicates credibility.