Every business owner wants to be on "Page One". There are around 8 to 12 listings on page one of Google. There are around 1.5 billion websites worldwide. Do the math. With more and more websites being created, and newer technologies and social media platforms, it's becoming increasingly difficult to rank "at the top". This leaves business owners desperate, and where there is desperation there is greed. Scams abound, as well as "solutions" that are not technically scams, but simply don't work as well as promised. One of these solutions is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads. The basic idea behind PPC is you pay to rank in the "paid placement" section at the top and bottom of a Google search results page. The more you're willing to pay, the higher you can rank. But PPC has many pitfalls, which you can read in my article about Pay-Per-Click.
I'm asked by almost every prospective client, "Can you get me to the top of Google?" I explain some of the things I can do to get them to rank as high as possible, but I make it clear that there are no guarantees. I then proceed to explain why, but it's put best in a book I read while brushing up on the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques:
This last sentence is very important: "queries that have little or no search demand behind them". Unscrupulous SEO companies use fraudulent techniques to get your site to rank high in the search engines. A former client of mine was working with such a company that did manage to get his site to #1, at an absurdly high cost. But the client wasn't getting any hits to his website. It took about 5 minutes for me to find that the search term they were using was "south jersey yellow zebra". Of course, my client ranked #1 for that phrase since there was no competition for it!
So can a small local company rank on the first or second page of Google? Of course, and I do it for my clients all the time (see my article entitled How I Get Clients to Rank on Page One of Google. But it takes time and expertise (if you do it yourself), or money (if you hire someone). Success depends a lot on your type of business and how much competition your company has from other companies that provide similar services in the same geographical area. If you sell statues of blue squirrels to residents of Bevier, Missouri, you're going to rank much better for your particular search terms than a general contractor who does work for the entire state of Texas. A company with a lot of competition is going to have to work harder to rank higher. So it comes down to the question: How much are you willing to pay (in time and/or money), and is it worth it? If you have the time or money to spend, then go for it. If not, don't sweat it, but make sure that you have alternative techniques in place to get your company found online, such as free online listings and social media. If your company is listed with a lot of high-ranking, reputable listing sites such as Google Places for Business, Bing Local, Manta, etc., and you're posting frequently on Facebook, then links to those sites will appear in search engines. When people search for a company in your area that provides your services, those listings can appear on page one of Google. Someone looking for your services will click that link, and from there they can visit your website. You can find out what sites people are clicking on to get to your website by checking out your Google Analytics reports.