In this post, our goal is to DEMYSTIFY the search engines and break down the anatomy of the search engine results page. By understanding how each component works, you can formulate a strategy to maximize the results of each.

There are three core components of the search engines results page:

  1. Paid/PPC Listings
  2. Map Listings
  3. Organic Listings
PPC vs. Organic vs. Map - Search Engine Anatomy


  1. Paid/PPC Listings – In the paid section of the search engines, you are able to select the keywords that are relevant to you and then pay to be listed in this area. The reason it is referred to PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, is because you pay each time someone clicks on your link rather than paying a flat monthly or daily fee for placement.
  2. Map Listings – The map listings have become very important because it is the first thing that comes up in the search results for most locally based searches. If someone searches “AC Repair + your city”, chances are the map listings will be the first thing they look at. Unlike the paid section of the search engine, you can’t buy your way into the Map Listings. You have to earn it. Once you do, there is no per-click cost associated with being in this section of the search engine.
  3. Organic Listings – The organic/natural section of the search engine results page appears directly beneath the map listings in many local searches, but appears directly beneath the paid listings in the absence of the map listings (the map section only shows up in specific local searches). Similar to the map listings, you can’t pay your way into this section of the search engines and there is no per-click cost associated with it.

Now that you understand the the major components of the search engine results page and the differences between paid listings, map listings and organic listings, you might wonder which section is most important? This is a question that we receive from plumbing contractors every day.

The fact is that all three components are important and each should have a place in your online marketing program because you want to show up as often as possible when someone is searching for plumbing services in your area. Assuming you are operating on a limited budget and need to make each marketing dollar count, you need to focus your investment on the sections that are going to drive the strongest Return On Investment (ROI).

Research indicates that a vast majority of the population looks directly at the organic and map listings when searching, and simply glance over the paid listings (as illustrated by the images below).

PPC vs Organic Where do People Click

If you are operating on a limited budget and need to get the best bang for your buck, you should start by focusing your efforts on the area that gets the most clicks at the lowest cost. We have found that placement in the Organic and Map sections on the search engines drives a SIGNIFIGANTLY better return on investment than pay-per-click marketing.

So, how can you get your plumbing and HVAC company listed in the organic and map listings? Download our FREE Internet Marketing and SEO Guide to find out.