How to Get to the Top of Google’s Search Results [Interactive Guide]

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If you run a business, you’ll probably want to appear at the top of Google when people search for certain keywords.

For example, if you’re a plumber in London, you might want to show up when people search for “plumber near me” or “london plumber.” Most people click the first result, so appearing at the top usually means more traffic, leads, and customers.

But how exactly do you appear here above the competition?

Just follow this flowchart:

Not sure what each of those four possibilities look like?

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

If you’ve hit the end of the flow chart, check our list of SERP features. There might still be a way to appear right at the top.

Otherwise, hit one of the options below to jump straight to the instructions:

How to get to the top of Google with ads

If ads are what you see at the top of the results for your target keyword, then the only way to appear right at the top of Google is to pay for ads.

How? Just sign up for Google ads and run a search campaign.

Google search ads work on a pay per click (PPC) basis. That means you bid on the keywords that you want to show up for in Google. If you’re a plumber in London, you can bid on keywords like “plumber in london” and “plumber near me.”

 

You can add geographic targeting, too, so you won’t be advertising to folks that live where your business doesn’t operate.

 

Just know that bidding on a keyword doesn’t mean that you’ll always show up at the top of the ads block. If other people are willing to pay more for a click, there’s a chance you’ll appear lower down or not at all.

It’s also crucial that your landing page and ad copy align with the keyword you’re targeting. Google’s Quality Score gives you some insight into this. In Google’s words, “Higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions.”

Quality Score (QS) in Google Ads.

That said, while ads are a fantastic way to appear at the top of Google fast, it’s 100% pay to play. The second you stop pumping money into your campaigns, the second you stop showing up at the top of Google.

It’s also true that organic results may get more clicks than ads, so being in position one with an ad doesn’t always equate to more clicks. That’s because most people prefer to click organic results.

For example, if we search for “best VPN,” we see four ads at the top of the results:

But if we check this keyword in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, only 19% of clicks go to the paid results. Most of the clicks are on the organic (non-paid) search results further down the page.

If this is the case for the keyword you want to get search traffic from, it might be worth investing in SEO instead of, or alongside PPC.

 

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