As I was searching for a gift late one evening using Google, I came to a shocking realization. For all the work eBlox has done over the years in organic search – optimizing websites and links so that pages come up high in Google’s rankings – I’ve been won over by the “other” side of Google’s search results page. That’s right: I click on ads. Specifically, the “pay-per-click” ads that run down the right side and top of Google’s search results page. For me, those “Sponsored Links” have become a more reliable way to find many of the things I’m looking for. And if my behavior has changed, you can bet that other users’ habits are changing too.
Why on earth would I click an advertisement for “imprinted ceramic mugs” when Google has invested billions of dollars in technology to show me the absolute best, top-notch, high-quality, popular web site for ceramic mugs right there in the middle of the page? Quite a few reasons, actually, but the most salient one may be that Google has quite a few more billions riding on the accuracy and effectiveness of those ads that surround the natural results than the results themselves. Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information, but their balance sheet tells the real story: Google is an advertising company. That’s not to suggest Google neglects their organic search results; quite the opposite. Google’s search results are probably the best they can possibly be given the volume of information they have to process.