Understanding SEO, PPC, and the "First Page" of Google

Posted by Nikki Wardle on Jun 8, 2017 9:04:00 AM

SEO companies claim they can get you to the first page of Google.


Would you believe me if I told you that the first page of search results for "SEO Services" is different for John Doe in downtown Seattle using a laptop as opposed to someone sitting three miles away searching the same term using a phone? It's true.

That's why I want to smack some sense into any web marketing agency that claims they can get any website on the first page of search engine results. It's a very misleading statement, and simply too vague to be credible.

The Basics of SEO Services

Think of SEO services like you do your utilities- whether it be internet, electric or even cell service. It's a hard, non-negotiable monthly cost. Not implementing SEO tactics and strategies into your overall marketing plan is like having an office with no lights or even a cell phone (insert audible gasp). Like I said, non-negotiable.


If you hire a firm to handle your SEO and they don't ask for a strategy and/or business goals meeting... run. Fast.

You know what your business goals are (at least, you had better), who your ideal customers are, which campaigns and tactics have worked in the past (and what hasn't worked), etc. That provides a starting point for a quality SEO expert. If they don't ask for the knowledge and insights you already have, it's going to be a bumpy ride from the start.

Before any agency gets started on your SEO strategy, they should know what your needs and goals are, who you want to attract, and why these potential new customers should do business with your company. Set a basic road map with agreed upon checkpoints, responsibilities and timelines.


While different business and campaign goals require different tactics, there are fundamental components of SEO that MUST be done. They include (but are not limited to):

  • Identifying a minimum of 100 keywords (including long-tail keywords) that your customers and leads use to find your product or service.
  • Meta data auditing and updating: Including meta descriptions, page titles, image alt text, headers and data structure.
  • Validating the architecture of your site. Making sure your site is mobile responsive, loads quickly, and doesn't have duplicate content.
  • Verifying your site has been crawled by the major search engines and determining search engine reporting errors.


It's fairly common for an agency that provides SEO services to provide a monthly report. This report should include:

  • A short outline of the work that was done during the month
  • Average Google Organic Search Ranking compared to the previous month
  • Keywords or topics that are the focal point of their efforts, current rankings, percent of movement up or down
  • Overall site traffic and source breakdown: Organic, referral, social, paid and email (if applicable) as compared to the previous month

There are many more statistics that are important depending on the goal of the SEO work, but the four listed above should always be provided. They give the best overall view of how your site is performing.

The Basics of PPC Services

This may come as a surprise to you, but much of what I stated about SEO is very much applicable when it comes to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) services.

I like to think of Pay-Per-Click kind of like a Lamborghini. It gets you where you want to go...fast...and with a fairly high initial cost.


As with SEO, a strategy meeting is imperative. While goals for SEO are very long term focused, goals for a paid campaign need to be very specific and are usually time-based (but not always). After determining what you offer, set a goal on how many conversions you want to accomplish.

Using industry standards, here is an example of what your goals should look like:

  • You want to make 5 sales (or conversions) a day through PPC.
  • To accomplish this, you need 25 clicks per day from your paid ads (20% conversion rate).
  • To get 25 clicks from your paid ads, you need 1,250 impressions per day (2-3% click through rate, or CTR).

This example just gives you an idea of measurable goals that may make sense.


One of the most common misconceptions of PPC is that it is all about being the highest bidder. Not the case at all. If you don't believe me, watch this video by Google explaining how you can be the first paid ad shown on a search result, but not be the highest bidder.

The bottom line is, optimize your ad's landing pages to match your campaign's keywords and ad text in:

  • Meta Descriptions
  • Image Alt Tags
  • Header Text
  • Page Titles
  • Content

Make sure to also take advantage of all the Google Ad Extensions. Location, phone, call-out, reviews, and site links are all extra snippets of text that can be added at the bottom of your ad.

Paid campaigns are not a "set it and forget it" kind of deal. Constant review, analysis, and changes need to be made to get the biggest bang for your buck!


Google provides an abundance of options and stats to report on. It can be quite overwhelming.

When starting out with paid campaigns, here is a list of some of the more important statistics to review:

  • Impressions: Are the number of impressions you received what you expected? Do they meet your campaign goals?
  • Total Clicks and Click-Through-Rate: Going back to the example above, are you getting a minimum 2-3% CTR and 20% conversion rate?
  • Return-On-Investment: Are the sales or conversions you're getting versus the amount of money you are spending on paid campaigns meeting your overall business goals? Is the ROI worth it to you?

Overview of SEO and PPC Services

The above information may seem like quite a lot, but in reality, it is the bare minimum in what you should be getting when you hire an agency for SEO or PPC services. And the next time an SEO company tells you they can get you on THE first page of the search engines, ask them one simple question, "For What?"

You can thank me later.

New call-to-action

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has a degree in Marketing from Boise State University and worked as an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Tribute Media from 2014 to 2019. She's a Google Whiz and dog lover, now serving as a marketing director for a local veterinary clinic.