In today’s world, showing up in Google searches is a vital component of the marketing mix. And we all of course want to end up as high in the search as possible. But what’s that really worth? How important is it to be on page one?

Studies show that about 50% of all search traffic begins and ends on page one of Google results.

That’s a good motivator. In fact, if you rank beyond page three, it’s like you almost don’t exist.

So the answer to the question: very important.

As shown in the graphic below, the Google results page displays about 10 Paid PPC listings (yellow) and 10 organic SEO listings (blue). The advantage of PPC is that it gets you day-one presence. Bid on the keyword terms you want to rank for and you’re there. SEO takes more time, but over the long haul stands to get you more clicks.

How many more clicks?

Over 85% of page one clicks go to Organic listings. This wide margin might make you think PPC is a waste of time… but that’s not actually true. The fact of the matter is while Organic does hog most of the clicks, most of those clicks are going to the top three organic listings on the page. Specifically, the first listing on the first page, with a total of 33% clicks. Now, if you can secure this top listing for all your keywords – then great, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Google-Ranks

But chances are you have some keywords and phrases that need more help. Depending on your value proposition, relative competition and content strategy—you may need to execute a PPC campaign just to get on page one. In addition, PPC is also easier to manage, track and analyze. You can clearly see your money at work whereas with SEO it is more complex to calculate hard returns.

So PPC is the way to go then? Not quite…

In the end – it makes the most sense to execute PPC and SEO campaigns in tandem as they help feed each other. Where one fails, the other tends to pick up the slack. Plus, it never hurts to get on page one as much as you can. Just keep in mind a good click-through rate on PPC is about 2%.

Before you embark on an SEM strategy – knowing the facts can help keep you from finishing last. Here is a quick checklist of factors consider before diving in:

Who am I trying to reach? What’s my audience?

  1. What do I want my web visitors to do on my site? What’s the action?
  2. Where are my customers looking for me? How can I help them through content?
  3. When are they trying to find me? Are there any seasonal, week-day or time-of-day factors to consider?