Top Ranking on Google Organic and Paid Search?

The Internet has basically taken over every other marketing venue in terms of spending. The importance of being visible online is crucial to the success of a company, whether brick and mortar or with an exclusively online market.

In the UK last year Internet advertising grew 41.2%. Sixty percent of companies that are spending online right now plan to increase online budgets. Companies are directing more of their budgets online attempting to build their brand and engage end-users.

Being at the top of Google organic search is the top priority for just about every online marketing company that knows what that top placement would mean to a company. The difference between being at position#1 and #11, in many cases, means the difference between a profitable company and a company scraping by.

Of the many ways to spend your advertising dollars/pounds, Google Adwords offers the opportunity for advertisers to be visible to thousands of targeted consumers and be seen in the top of a search for the keyword or keyword phrase the company targets. This works in the same way as if they were buying a half page advertisement in a specific area of the local newspaper (i.e. a perfume ad in the women’s section).

Google Adwords is a paid tool that advertisers can use to bid on terms related to their business, and potentially show up on the first page of results for those keywords. This can be very expensive depending on your market and your competition.

The question is, do you need to pay to be seen if you are already showing in the top ten? The answer is yes you do.

Each search engine uses different sources for things such as paid results, natural results or directory results…and in some cases they even use different sources for their secondary listings.

"So if I’m #1 on Google, why do I need to pay for an additional placement in paid search? Won’t I be paying for traffic that I will probably already get?"

Not necessarily, and we are going to show you and prove why beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

According to Google, 1000 impressions on average will net 10 clicks on a top spot in their Adwords scheme. A top position in organic results will net you 20 clicks per 1000 impressions. Being at the top of both will net an astounding 60 clicks.

Now I don’t know about you folks, but I know the difference between 1-2% and 6% when it comes time to deliver reports to clients. This is an absolutely huge piece of information.

So what Google is saying is that you can double your traffic by being at the top of paid and organic results. And they didn’t just say it, they sent me a graph in case I didn’t believe their sales rep. Here it is;

Okay, that’s the main reason for being on top of paid and organic search. Now let’s consider other important reasons.

Over the past few years there has been a lot of shuffling around in the world of search and in who actually supplies the results that the different search engines show when you use their search function.

America Online used to provide their own results until the end of December 2005 when Google invested $1 billion for a 5% stake. Google now provides both paid and natural (organic) search results to AOL Search users. It’s a pretty good deal for Google considering AOL is #4 after their own search, MSN and Yahoo. It’s even better when you consider that AOL users typically convert into buyers at a rate of 6% versus the average 2-3% across the web.

There are approximately 17 search engines exchanging results, some paid and some natural, depending on which one you use.

Below are two graphs that outline Google and Yahoo, two of the top three search engines. (MSN is the third; they has recently launched MSN Live which furnishes their own results)

For the sake of this article, let’s take a look at Google.

First off, Google furnishes two different results with their Search Network – Primary Search Results and Paid Search results. If you have an Adwords account and are in the top three positions, plus chose the Search Network in "Campaign Settings," your ad is syndicated across seven other search engines and their top results:

That’s pretty substantial.

Let’s take a look at Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture, formerly Goto):

Yahoo Search Marketing provides results from their Pay Per Click advertising to these second tier search engines. But again, it’s under the same pretense — you have paid to be in the top positions.

Understanding search engines and how they work is an integral part of doing search engine marketing. Different engines have different site structures. Some search engines display these paid ads along with their organic search in such a way that the end user has no idea that he/she is clicking on a paid listing.

There are three other ways that listings from sources other than internal databases are used:

  1. Primary Organic Search Results
  2. Secondary Organic Search Results
  3. Directory Search Results

A good example is Google. Google supplies Ask.com with their paid listings. Ask.com supplies Lycos, HotBot and Dogpile with their primary search results, and Ask supplies Snap.com with their secondary search results.

Lets take a look at the rest.

Google

  • Gets directory results from DMOZ.
  • Furnishes primary search results to Alexa, Netscape, Dogpile, AOL and Go.com.

Yahoo

  • Gets paid results from Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • Furnishes primary search results to Alta Vista, Alltheweb and Dogpile.

MSN Live and MSN

  • Provides paid listings via MSN AdCenter to Microsoft sites.
  • Furnishes Dogpile with primary results.

LookSmart

  • Furnishes Dogpile with primary results.

Snap.com

  • Gets secondary search results from Ask.com.

Lycos

  • Gets directory listings from DMOZ.
  • Gets paid results from Google.
  • Gets primary results from Ask.com.

AOL

  • Gets paid and primary results from Google.
  • Gets directory listings from DMOZ.

Go

  • Gets paid and primary listings from Google.

Alta Vista

  • Gets directory listings from DMOZ.
  • Gets paid results from Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • Gets primary results from Yahoo.

Netscape

  • Gets directory listings from DMOZ.
  • Gets paid and primary results from Google.

Ask

  • Gets paid results from Google.
  • Furnishes primary results to Lycos, Dogpile and Hotbot.
  • Furnishes secondary search results to Snap.com.

HotBot

  • Gets directory listings from DMOZ.
  • Gets paid results from Google.
  • Gets primary search results from Ask.com.

Dogpile

  • Gets paid results from Yahoo.
  • Gets primary search results from LookSmart, MSN, Yahoo, Google, and Ask.

Alexa

  • Gets directory results from DMOZ.
  • Gets paid and primary results from Google.

AllTheWeb

  • Gets paid results from Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • Gets primary search results from Yahoo.

So at the end of the day, to maximize your website potential, you need to be on the top of organic listings as well as paid listings.

Personally I have tested this theory several times, and with very large companies, and each time the result is the same: a major difference in traffic running a paid campaign alongside top rankings on the organic side.

Gary R. Beal (a.k.a. GaryTheScubaGuy) is the Head of Search and Head of SEO and PPC Training at Stickyeyes.

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