If your site is poorly optimized, it may only take up one space on the front page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) – leaving the rest of the page “up for grabs” by your competitors and customers. However, a professionally optimized and marketed site can take up more visual space – and you can dominate the upper, “above the fold” area where most people look first.
In the example below, the pay-level domain *.apple.com takes up 5 spaces at the top of the page:
Here are some tips for maximizing control of the home page with your official domain:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements. Search engines make money by selling placement ads. If you bid high enough on your brand name, you can appear near the top. If your business name is trademarked, you can prevent other people from buying ads for it. You can file a trademark complaint with Google (note: must be logged into a Google Account) to prevent competitors from buying ads for it.
- Official home page. After your site has been around for several months and picked up some links, it should appear near the top of the search results. It should at least rank for your exact domain name (i.e., ExampleWidgets.com should rank for “example widgets”.) If it doesn’t, there’s a problem and and need to consult a professional.
- Sitelinks. Sitelinks are a sign that Google considers your site to be the number one, most-trusted destination for a particular search phrase. You can’t buy or ask for sitelinks, they are automatically granted to some sites. If you get sitelinks, you can manage how they appear inside Google Webmaster Tools.
- Link-rich Internal Page. A popular page or article with an abundance of internal links (i.e., linked to in a sitewide menu or sidebar) as well as external link citations can show up below the home page in the search results. Try to create a piece of flagship content that will be a link magnet for your visitors, and promote it heavily – both on and offsite.
- Link-rich subdomain. In my personal observations, I have often seen subdomains like “locations.example.com” or “store.example.com” show up in the search results – if they have lots of links and other signs of activity. Note: You usually won’t get more than one subdomain to show up unless it has hundreds-of-thousands to millions of links.
- Local Business Listing. If you put an official mini-site, subdomain or directory on your main domain – listing all your organization’s regional locations… and register them with Google’s Local Business Center – you can get a Google map in the middle of the search page – pointing to your official site and taking up a lot of screen “real estate.”