Understanding the Search Engines

Search Engines and Search Engine Marketing/Optimization can be very confusing. There are a lot of moving parts and most contractors don't understand how they work.

Below is an overview that will help you understand how they work and what the differences are between the Paid Listings (PPC), Organic Listings and Map Listings. By understanding how each works and what the differences are, you can put an effective strategy in place for each.

There are three core components of the Search Engines Results Page:

  1. Paid/PPC Listings
  2. Map Listings
  3. Organic Listings

 Understanding the Search Engines for Contractors & Home Service Businesses

1. Paid/PPC Listings – In the paid section of the search engines you are able to select keywords that are relevant to your business, and then pay to be listed amongst the search results. The reason it is referred to as PPC or Pay-Per-Click is because rather than paying a flat monthly or daily fee for placement, you simply pay each time someone clicks on the link.

2. Map Listings – The map listings have become very important because they are the first things that comes up in search results for most locally based searches. If someone searches “AC Repair + your city,” chances are the map listings will be the first thing they look at. Unlike the paid section of the search engine, you can’t buy your way into the Map Listings. You have to earn it. Once you do, there is no per-click cost associated with being in this section of the search engine.

3. Organic Listings – The organic/natural section of the Search Engine Results page appears directly beneath the Map Listings in many local searches, but appears directly beneath the Paid Listings in the absence of the Map Listings (the Map Section only shows up in specific local searches). Similar to the Map Listings, you can’t pay your way into this section of the search engines and there is no per-click cost associated with it.

Now that you understand the three major components of the Search Engine Results and the differences between Paid Listings, Map Listings and Organic Listings you might wonder… “What section is the most important?” This is a question that we receive from plumbing contractors every day.

The fact is that all three components are important, and each should have a place in your online marketing program because you want to show up as often as possible when someone is searching for plumbing services in your area. With that said, assuming you are operating on a limited budget and need to make each marketing dollar count, you need to focus your investment on the sections that are going to drive the strongest Return On Investment.

Research indicates that the vast majority of the population looks directly at the Organic and Map Listings when conducting a search, and their eyes simply glance over the Paid Listings (as illustrated by the images below).

 Contractor SEO - Where people click when searching (PPC vs. Organic)

So, if you are operating on a limited budget and need to get the best bang for your buck, you should start by focusing your efforts on the area that gets the most clicks at the lowest cost. We have found that placement in the Organic and Map section on the Search Engines drive a SIGNIFIGANTLY higher Return On Investment than Pay-Per-Click Marketing.

Begin with the Organic Listings and then, as you increase your profits, you can start to shift those dollars into a proactive Pay-Per-Click Marketing effort.

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