The obvious answer to this question is yes, but over the last few years we’ve slowly watched Google take control over nearly all of the organic search result space “above the fold” (the space that’s visible without scrolling down) with their own web properties like advertisements, Places and the Knowledge Graph.
Remember when the ultimate goal was to attain the #1 ranking on Google?
Well as advertising becomes more prominent and Google SERP features like Knowledge Graph continue to expand, we’re realizing that the top spot is almost impossible to reach and being #1 organically isn’t what it used to be.
Some searches still produce great on-screen real estate for the #1 ranking, but such instances are becoming few and far between. In many cases the top spot is placed below three advertisements, a few news articles, and a Places block often referred to as “the pack.”
What Google is telling us is that we have to pay to be seen.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t strive to be #1 organically because we all know it’s important to be as high as possible. Instead we’re saying #1 doesn’t carry the same weight that it used to have.
In many cases it’s easy to skip over the first organic listing because you can’t tell where Google property ends and where organic listings begin.
If you search for “hotels in Orlando” you’ll notice that the Google Knowledge Graph Carousel dominates the top of the page and discourages users from scrolling down to organic listings. Beneath the carousel are a number of sponsored advertisements. All organic listings are located below the fold and out of sight.
If you think contending with a few advertisements and Google properties isn’t a big deal you’re in denial. YouTube (also owned by Google) videos are starting to pop up at the top of search results and we have to wonder what’s next? Where will it end?
Google used to keep you on their properties for a very short time so you could quickly find the answer you were searching for, but all of that has changed. Now the goal is to keep you on Google properties for as long as possible – hoping you’ll eventually click on an advertisement.