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Over 500 million searches are done every single day. People are looking for your products and services. Can your website be found?
Looking at a search results page, typically you see two areas of results. The paid listings (PPC) and the ones the search engine deems to be the most appropriate answer to the search (natural rankings). Now take a look at this heat map of a Google search results page. It's a sample page from an eye tracking study done by Did-it, Enquiro, and Eyetools. The hotter the color, the more eyeballs there are on that part of the page. The cooler the color, less eyeballs. As you can see there is A LOT of heat - eyes - on the top 2-3 rankings of PPC and about the top 5 natural rankings. This heat map also illustrates that about 80% of the searchers click on a natural ranking while conversely about 20% click on the paid listings.
So where should you be? Both places. Being listed in both places increases the probability of you getting the click, but more importantly, studies have shown that there is a synergistic effect when people see you in both locations. People often consider the search results as actual RATINGS by the search engine. Hence, when you're listed in BOTH places there is a multiplying factor in searcher's minds that you MUST REALLY, REALLY, be the expert in what they are looking for.
The reality is with limited resources, sometimes you have to choose where to be. Both locations fall under the umbrella of Search Engine Marketing but each have a different (yet similar) methodology and goals of achieving a high ranking. Learn more how to market with PPC campaigns or achieve top natural rankings using SEO (search engine optimization).
Let's also take a moment to talk about localism, or local search. I predicted about 10 years ago that although this internet thing was pretty slick, it was really going to take off as soon as it was localized - meaning, when you search for "pizza" you get results that are close to where you are. We're just on the cusp of this happening. It's amazing how smart Ask, Yahoo and especially Google have become with being able to serve you local results! When this happens in the next few years, it's going to have a HUGE impact on regional and local businesses.
Is your website positioned to catch the local search wave? Ok, now to show my geeky side, think of the movie Star Trek: Generations. One of its main plot lines was that Dr. Soran, played by Malcolm McDowell, needed to be in an exact position in the universe when the Nexus went by so he would get scooped up into its bliss. Think of the Nexus as Local Search. It's coming. It’s coming fast, right at us. You need to be in its path to enter its bliss - LOTS of traffic from your company's local neighbors. WOW!