Movin’ Up is Hard to Do

We’ve got a guest post from our friends at Keyword Connects!

By Todd Bairstow
Partner, Keyword Connects

Every home improvement company wants better organic rankings for their Web site. But I can tell you from experience that moving up is really hard to do.

Why? Because while your site may be doing just fine, it is getting crowded out by paid advertisements.

First, a quick refresher. Paid listings are pretty much what they sound like, and they generally show up at the very top and the right-hand side of a search. I’m talking Google here, but you’ll find that Bing, Yahoo and other search engines use a similar layout. Here’s a search for “home improvement” on Google:

Google Search Results Page

Ads are in red. Tim Allen’s sitcom is in green.

Everything not highlighted on that screenshot is an organic search result – that is, it came from good old-fashioned content, keyword placement, domain history and a thousand other factors that Google takes into consideration.

If it looks like those ads are taking up an inordinate amount of space, it’s not just your eyes playing tricks on you. Search engines have given ads more and more space over the years. It’s a natural evolution considering that 96% of Google’s revenue comes from ads.

Ads are getting more text, more links, and more screen space. They’re big, they’re prominent, and it’s growing increasingly likely that users will click on them instead of on an organic search that’s getting crowded down to the bottom of the screen. Just look at a search for “home improvement” on Ask.com:

Ask.com Search Results Page

There are no organic results anywhere on the screen. First there are ads, then suggestions for other searches, and then a couple of Web sites about the TV show. If you keep scrolling down you’ll see organic results, but many users won’t bother with that when large, convincing looking ads are right in front of them.

Who provides those ads for Ask.com? If you guessed Google, bingo! You’re right.

The problem becomes even more acute when you consider search results viewed on mobile devices, and the number of ads displayed on those pages. With screens becoming smaller and smaller, space for organic listings is even harder to find.

This problem isn’t going to go away. If anything, organic searches will continue to be crowded out. It’s almost like an arms race – search engines want advertisers, and advertisers will give their money to the engine that promises it the most space.

Now, I can’t answer the question of whether you should give paid ads a try – I know they work and it’s what my firm, Keyword Connects, does for home improvement companies. Your budget and your business goals may tell you to stick with an organic strategy. But one way or another, all home improvement companies must adjust to a future in which paid ads get more and more time in the limelight.

Losing just a few ranks in the organic search results can significantly depress traffic to your Web site. Don’t dismiss this as unimportant, and come up with a plan to adapt. Your Web site – and ultimately your lead flow – will thank you later.

Remember…“movin’ up is hard to do.

Neil Sedaka Photo

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