One of the disturbing trends that has happened on Google is the ever dwindling real estate that used to be set aside for organic listings. While the space itself still exists, being number one on the search engine giant seems to mean less every day.
If a company could get to the number one position o Google in the past, it meant a wealth of traffic. It was a position that would either make or break some companies. Nowadays it means very little, since the majority of the results page is filled with ads, Google Places listings, reviews, products, and other possibilities. All of which push the #1 organic listing way “below the fold”, meaning that the searcher literally needs to scroll down the page to even see that first organic listing.
Over the years, many people have learned to note the difference between what’s a paid ad and what is an “organic” listing. But while more people are aware of the difference, the importance of that holy grail of positions means less with every passing algorithm change.
While the paid advertising of years passed was less about relevancy and more about the bidding process, Google has greatly updated the PPC algorithm to integrate with their organic algorithm to more heavily pre-check the site landing page. With that change became a slow progression of increasing trust that clicking on an ad would prove to be more relevant than it had to be in the past.
In addition to that element, industry specific searches like “wedding planner”, “nail salons”, and similar business types would also generate a map of the searchers location along with business listings in their area. In most cases, it will be both paid ads, location map, and even products if it remotely makes sense.
The only remaining question is how important does this make your onsite SEO efforts as compared to your paid advertising strategies? Is Google’s move towards making paid ads more prevalent strictly a monetary move for them or do they truly feel that it increases the quality of information shown?
The top organic listings that are shown are by far the more important sites for the searcher since they have gone through a much more arduous analysis by Google’s algorithms to insure that they are the highest relevancy in order to be awarded that positioning. The problem is that Google has done a fantastic job at diverting that user via a wealth of options before the organic listings. All of which generate revenue for Google.
While paid positioning is far less stringent on the relevancy checks, the quality score still plays a part in deciding which advertiser will outrank other paid advertisers. The map is relevant only in regards to the users location. In the previous example of the “wedding planning” search, the addition for product listings was hit or miss, but because there was so much interpretation in the search term, it took a shot anyway.
That all being said, what is your view of the current state of the SERP? If you’re a paid advertiser, are you screaming, “About time!”? Or if you are an organic promoter, do you feel like your time has now been wasted or do you feel as if it gives you an additional way to push traffic while your organic efforts slowly take shape?