5 years ago, 10 years ago even search engine optimization (SEO) was all any digital marketing company was talking about. It was an aggressive race to the top of the search page. Consumers are lazy, me included. When I hit Google looking for an answer or a solution, I want it now, I want it at the top of the page. I don’t want to have to scroll down the page or dig through links. This is why SEO was so crucial. If your website link wasn’t at the top of the SERP (search engine results page) you weren’t even in the game.
This isn’t news to anyone; everybody knows that nobody goes to the second page of the SERP and most people don’t even scroll down the first page so why am I even talking about this? The point is that all this information remains true. It is still a race to the top of the SERP page and advertisers are fighting aggressively with their competitors to get there. Despite this, the game has changed.
Search engine optimization isn’t what it used to be. Is search engine optimization dead? Absolutely not. That was an exaggerated claim. As a matter of fact, we offer SEO services and encourage all of our clients to utilize them. SEO is still important but if the goal is to be at the top of the SERP, more times than not SEO alone won’t get you there.
In today’s world, paid search is kind of the search engine results page. Google (and the other search engines) know this and are monetizing the SERPS as much as they can. It’s become a pay-to-play game. Granted Google AdWords has technically been around since 2000 but not to the extent that it operates today. Many searches today won’t even show a single organic link without having to scroll. The screen grab below shows an example of this.
What you see the pink arrows pointing at are paid search ads, or search engine marketing ads. Search engine marketing in Layman’s Terms is essentially paying for your website to be listed at the top of the SERP for specified keywords. Without getting too deep into the process, a keyword list is generated, a geographic target region is set, and your website will show at the top of the page when someone searches for those specified keywords within the target region. It’s a bit more complex than that but you get the idea.
All four of the websites shown in the screenshot above are paid ads. Without scrolling, a user won’t see a single organic listing for this search term. Advertisers can do endless amounts of organic search engine optimization but it likely won’t be enough. No matter how much SEO is done, if a competitor is running paid ads your listing won’t show above theirs. While SEO is important to increase your website’s quality score with Google, ultimately it isn’t enough to ensure your website reaches the top of the SERP.
According to to Perion, 64.6% of users click on SEM Ads when they are looking to buy an item online. Power Traffick also states that the top 3 paid advertising spots generate around 50% of the clicks. Don’t believe me, how often do you scroll down the results page before clicking on a link?
Worried about users seeing your ads at the top of the SERP and coming off as spammy? Good news! Most don’t even recognize the difference between paid and organic listing when performing a typical search. Seobook.com performed a survey that proved people are generally unaware of ads vs. organic results.
Ultimately things aren’t that different than they have been in the past. It is still a viscous fight to the top of the search engine results page. To compete with (and beat) your competitors, it’s imperative that users are able to find your business online. Unfortunately, organic search engine optimization isn’t enough to achieve this anymore. Google understands that the top three spots of the search page are the crown jewel of online traffic and they don’t want to give it up too easy. SEM will help ensure that users are finding your business online.
Not sure where to start? I’d be happy to explain more and dive deeper into how search engine marketing works and what that might look like for your business. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to explain further.