Organic SEO or Pay Per Click Advertising: What Makes You Click?

Recently, I had a conversation with a few colleagues about how they search and whether they ever click on a sponsored link. Even though I’ve never once clicked on one of the links on the right hand side of the google search results page, their answers surprised me. It was a unanimous, No! It got me thinking about the whole phenomenon of pay-per-click advertising, who uses it and for what.

I decided to pose the following question to a group of marketers on LinkedIn–to see if I’ve been missing something.

“When you do a Google Search, do you click on the sponsored links on the right-hand side of the page? -Sometimes, never, always Why? Do you click differently personally vs. professionally?”

Here’s some of their comments below:

1. “Have to admit I never even look at the sponsored ads on the right hand side. They don’t catch my attention and I never think to even read them. if what I’m looking for isn’t in the first few search results I’ll tend to try a different search string, but I’ll never glance over to the ads. maybe that’s ad blindness caused by excessive web use!”

2. “Sometimes, if the description seems directly applicable to what I’m looking for.”

3. “I rarely click on any banner. Perhaps once a month.
Mainly, I’m too focused on what I’m doing or seeking to waste time on a tangent.”

4. “Rarely. I am much more inclined to click on the organic listings, however I have clicked on a PPC ad a couple times when I’ve been in the market to buy a specific product online (like area rugs or picture frames).”

5. “I mostly stick to the organic search results. If the ads are directly related to what I am looking for then I might click on it.”

6. “Of course the free clicks unless I want to spend my competition’s money?”

7. “Very rarely. I tend to trust organic placement as Google is pretty hot on scam sites. Sponsored links need to be relevant to a search query but are higher risk.”

8. “Fortunately a casual user will not necessarily know what a sponsored link means. I use PPC for testing keyword effectiveness so that is probably a good thing.”

9. “I rarely click on sponsored links – They rarely offer what I’m looking for.”

10. Never. Unless I’m just in the mood to spend my competitors money….

11. “Never, unless I would have chosen them anyway.”

12. “Never! It’s weird, I’ve never once clicked on a Google ad of any kind. I always assume search results will have what I need and if not I use a different term. Same with the links in my gmail account — just seems like spam to me.”

13. “Sometimes, when necessary, sure…”

14. “Even before I fully understood Search Engine Optimization and how Search Engines utilize logarithms for natural listings, I would rarely click on sponsored links. This is because organic listings seemed to be more effective at providing me with the information I needed.”

After studying SEO and implementing SEO strategies, I now may click on a sponsored link once a month. Simply, the organic search results are more relevant. Companies pay for sponsored links to appear when certain keywords are searched, but organic listings are direct results of relevant content.

I have had discussions with other students at my university and it seems like the preference of organic listings is a consensus. Consumers are smart. They want relevant and meaningful results. After several searches, consumers learn to ignore the links that are being pushed on them (sponsored links) and prefer those that they are pulling out (natural listings). In my case this sediment has been applied both in my personal and professional spheres.

What about you? Do you ever click on the sponsored links? Sometimes, never, always.
Why? Do you click differently personally vs. professionally?”

image credit: Danard Vincente

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