Can A Google Maps Listing Beat Out Paid and Organic Listings?

May 24, 2010

Who wins in a Google fight? A paid listing or a map listing? A first page natural listing or a #1 paid listing? You might be surprised what we found…

We have been advertising for a dental client over the last year on Adwords, and Google Maps. We have also done his SEO. This client has what we like to call the Google TRI-FECTA (they rank high with all 3 listings). With one website performing well in all 3 spaces, we were curious how each medium performed against each other. We took the results from the last 4 months, and dug up some info in Analytics. Here’s what we found:

This dentist’s campaign focuses on lead generation. Customers come to the website and sign up on a form that offers web only discounts on dental services. Overall there were 59 goal conversions.

Total Conversions:

  • Organic- 28
  • Paid- 12
  • Direct Traffic- 10
  • Facebook- 3
  • Other- 5

Not coming as too much of a surprise, organic traffic and conversions easily beat out paid traffic. What is most surprising though, is how the map listing performed:

From a simple business listing with Google Places, there was a 3.54% action rate, with a 2.38% click through rate of visits to the website. That compared to .84% click through rate with Adwords. Obviously, a limitation in this report is that we don’t have conversion tracking for the map listing; however, the amount of traffic to the website ads up to just 80 out of the 491 total organic clicks!

What conclusions can we draw from this? Let’s break it down:

  • Organic Listing– The main source of conversions for this dentist. Limited in the cost and time it would take to optimize for multiple keywords. Appeals to majority of internet users.
  • Paid Listing– Minimal conversions, but covered many more variations of long tailed keywords than organic. Appeals to clients wanting to cover hundreds of keyword variations.
  • Maps– Great cost efficiency (depending on what local seo company you use). Not as trusted as the organic listings. Appeals to searches that want a map to see where a dentist is located/how close they are.

So can a Google maps listing beat out a paid and natural listing? Not in this case. However, the traffic generated from the combination of these three mediums together may be unbeatable. We will post in a month or two on the results without any paid listings.


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