Google's top 4 spots are for paying customers only!

You may have noticed the first four search results typically have the word "Ad" clearly indicated. Google knows, getting seen at the top of their search engine's results can be extremely valuable, depending on the search phrase. As such, the top four spots are reserved for paying customers.

Think about it.

If you're a Plumber, for example, and you want to advertise your business, you could get a billboard or some other form of traditional advertisement in your local service area.

As a plumber, your target market can be defined as "everyone" who owns, or rents a home. The majority of people who drive by your billboard, will at some point in their lives, require the services of a plumber. At the very least, most traditional ad mediums (radio, newspaper, TV Billboards, etc.)  will help you to create awareness that you/your business exists, in case ever needed. Keep your traditional ads running for long enough and you will eventually build top-of-mind awareness. When you started reading this paragraph, you probably thought of a local plumber, maybe two or three. Whoever you instantly thought of, is top-of-mind for you. It's most likely who you will think to call first, once a giant turd (or something else) clogs your drain. Top-of-mind awareness is extremely valuable, however, it takes time and can be costly to achieve.

Back to the example of your billboard. Although you know most people will eventually need a plumber, during the time your billboard is up, you have no idea who is actually in need of a plumber RIGHT NOW! Wouldn't it be nice if the rate the billboard company charged you was not based on the number of people who will statistically see your billboard, but rather on the number of people who will see it, AND are looking for a plumber right now? Better yet, if your rate was based on only the people who need a plumber who not only saw your ad but actually responded to your ad (for example, checked out your website). This is essentially what "Google Ads", and other pay-per-click ad platforms offer. 


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Unlike billboards, radio ads and other traditional advertising mediums, pay-per-click online advertising platforms like Google Ads allow you to only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Oh and don't worry, you don't get charged if someone decides to click on your ad a bunch of times in a row. 

Not only does Google only charge you when someone actually clicks on your ad, they actually let you decide how much you are willing to spend per click. If you only want to spend $1 per click you can set your maximum bid amount to not ever exceed $1. You can even set a max daily budget. If your monthly budget is around $300, you can set a $10 daily budget. These three reasons alone are usually enough for any business to realize that it makes a lot of sense to advertise on Google and other search engines. So it comes as no surprise that Google's "Adwords" platform is so lucrative for the tech giant. 

A few years ago FloPrint, our print shop in Regina, started advertising on Google, despite the fact that we had the top spot in Google's organic search results. The truth is for many years we did not see the point in paying Google to get seen at the top of their search results when we were already listed as the number one printing service in their organic search results.

Back then our competitors weren't advertising on Google, and the map section only showed up when certain keywords and phrases were searched. Besides, we were usually number one in the map section too. So we got tons of visibility on Google, without paying for Google Adwords. These days Floprint has a bunch of local, as well as international online print competitors who are paying for the top search results

The layout of Google's search results page has seen a lot of subtle changed over the years to ultimately place way more emphasis on the paid results at the top of the page. Have you ever noticed, when you search on your phone, the first paid result now usually takes up almost all of the screen's available real estate? Not only has the emphasis shifted to the paid ads, but more importantly the first spot. 

In case you don't know how it works. In order to get the top spot in Google's paid results, you have to be willing to pay Google more, per click, than the other guys. That's right. This "highest bid" pricing model naturally drives the cost of advertising on google up. Simple supply & demand. Remember earlier I mentioned you can pay Google whatever you want for each click? That's still true, however, what I neglected to mention is that Google will essentially take the highest bids first. If no one else is paying to show up for a certain search phrase you're in luck, because you can offer Google a low bid, and your ad will show up.

The reality is, everyone is advertising on Google these days, so you need to step up. So depending on what your competitors are bidding, you could pay anywhere from $0.45 to $14 per click. We've heard Google Adwords experts tell stories of some of their clients who spend over $40 per click! That sounds like a lot. Whether it is worth it, totally depends on the value of the leads.

Here's a pro tip

No matter how much you are spending per click, you have to make sure you are getting those clicks to convert, whatever a "conversion" is to you. A conversion could be an inquiry over the phone (in-bound phone call), a quote request or an online store sale. This means you need to pay attention and track your visitors from the time they click on your ad until they hang up the phone, fill out your quote request form, checkout or exit your site. 

Based on your tracking data, you should always adjust your ad campaign so that your ad eventually only gets shown in the results for high yielding search phrases. Sounds easy, until you realize Google might show your ad in the results for search phrases that it "thinks" you might want to target. For example, if like FloPrint you are in the business of printing t-shirts, you may have your campaign set to show your ad when anyone in Canada searches for "Custom T-shirt Printing Canada". However, Google's Adwords algorithm might also show your ad when someone searched for some other phrase related to the keywords "T-shirt" and "Canada", but like the phrase "Canada T-shirts" potentially unrelated to the service you are trying to promote. Ask your self, if someone searches for "Canada T-shirt", are they interested in getting a bunch of t-shirts printed by an apparel print shop in Canada, or are they looking for a place to buy one T-shirt that has a "Canada" graphic on it? If you're an apparel print shop like FloPrint, no matter how much you end up paying for the click, it's ultimately money wasted.