Alphabet, Google's umbrella company recently became the most valuable company in the world, with the vast majority of this value coming from advertising on the world's most frequently used search engine. The reason for the increase in advertising revenue comes from the huge rise in search marketing, now one of the most important forms of marketing in the world. eMarketer have claimed that 2015 saw $81.59 billion spent on search ads, a 16.2% increase on 2014's figures. WPP alone spent $4 billion on Google and it is estimated that the search engine took 55 cents of every dollar spent on search ads in 2015.
This trend is set to increase, with roughly 10% year-on-year growth in search marketing until 2019, seeing the market reach $130.58 billion. This growth indicates that companies are clamouring to spend more using it, suggesting that it is becoming an effective way to advertise.
However, to look at the industry as simply an advertising platform that you can pay to be at the top of, is undermining the value of search marketing. It essentially looks at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing), including both in a marketing landscape. The combination of both the paid and unpaid side of the art are equally important today and with the increasing power of search, companies would be foolish to ignore it.
Although we are seeing the use of paid advertising increase on the biggest search engines, SEO, the move to increase rankings on google through organic, non-paid means, is arguably a more powerful way of getting people's attention. For instance, according to Jodie Cook, 80% of people will click on an organic result whilst only 20% on a paid version. The reasoning behind this is that people are aware that the companies who appear at the top organically are there because they have the correct content, not because they have paid to be seen.
It also pays to be the first entry on an organic search, with around 40% clicking on this result, with second receiving around 18% and third 13%. Therefore, it is considerably better to get to the top of Google through SEO driven organic means, rather than paid, if you are the top result. However, if you aren't the top organic result, it may be better to be the top paid result, as this will generally get you more traffic than anything below first place.
Google has become the homepage for billions of people across the world, with Google Chrome being the most popular internet browser on the planet, with 68% of web traffic coming through the browser. Given the auto search functionality of the browser, people often find it easier to search for a company or product then click on the top result, rather than typing in the the full company web address. It translates to over 40,000 Google searches every second, each helping to build up, or knock down the rankings of a website on their search engine.
If companies ignore their search marketing efforts or even put full effort in and then let this work lapse, they will be overtaken and become irrelevant. Millions are spent every year on SEO efforts, meaning that although technically you could reach the top spot on Google for free, the companies who have the best SEO experts are far more likely to get there. In many ways, SEO driven rankings are as expensive as paid ads, but the results of getting to the top position organically are considerably better.
Companies who ignore this important form of marketing are shooting themselves in the foot, without concentrating on it they could lose 50% of their search traffic by dropping down one place. In particularly hotly contested keywords, this could equate to millions of users and subsequently significantly reduced revenues.