Google’s Billions & Why SEO is so Important to your Marketing

by Paul Wilson


According to Google’s Annual Stock Holder Report, 99% of all its revenues come from their advertising programs (and not the 97% usually reported). For a company which almost did 35 billion dollars in revenue last year, that’s rather impressive.

As Google’s advertising flagship, Adwords is the bulk of that cash flow. The creative people at Wordstream did an infographic on the 20 most expensive keywords in Google AdWords. I was curious to see what it would cost if SEO was treated like Adwords. Meaning, what we would have to pay Google if they charged us per click for every #1 organic position we held in their search engine.

Doing this exercise puts in to perspective the importance of ranking organically over paid. There is no doubt that paid has a place in a search marketing strategy, but for many users the instant fix of paid search heavily over shadows the long run benefits of SEO.

Danny Goodwin of Search Engine Watch reported on a recent study showing that the #1 organic position in any given Google result receives 36.4% of searchers clicks. If we apply this information to Wordstreams infographic and also utilize the Google Keyword tool (I would have used Wordstream’s keyword tool, but it blurs the total monthly searches in their free version) we begin to see the cost effectiveness of SEO.

There are a few deviants in my comparison. First, Wordstream’s infographic doesn’t share what keywords receive the highest paid clicks, they only share the vertical. I had to dig into Google’s Adword tool and find the highest paying keyword for each vertical. Unfortunately, my research doesn’t match up with Wordstream’s.

I am certain the error is on my side, being that the entire business model of Wordstream is keyword analysis. However, the below analysis shows top paying clicks on the keywords I found. I still use Wordstream’s verticals, but I also showcase the keywords which are most expensive to click on.

The second issue comes from trying to compare SEO against PPC. It truly is like comparing Lady Gaga to Justin Bieber—yes, they are in the same industry, but they are very, very different. Organic rankings cannot be paused and unpaused. The ranking run 24/7, which, if you are not paying for this airtime, is a huge bonus. However, in order for PPC to garner 36.4% of a keyword’s traffic it would need to be running all the time, which is not realistic (for most campaigns, at least), but is assumed below in the table.

Finally, I am using Google’s Keyword tool to estimate the traffic. You would think that Google would be accurate about its own search results, but you would be wrong. So, for all intents and purposes consider my little analysis table as a “rough gestimation” on what SEO might cost if we had to pay Google for our top rankings. ~Paul W.


KeywordMonthly TrafficCTR for #1 PositionTop CPC for PPCHypothetical Organic CPC
Insurance (kwikfit car insurance)5,4001,966$73.89$145,267.74
Loans (settlement loans)14,8005,387$37.13$200,019.31
Mortgage (reverse mortgage lenders)12,1004,404$18.14$79,888.56
Attorney (mesothelioma attorney)49,50018,018$118.06$2,127,205.08
Credit (ignite credit card)4,4001,601$34.85$55,794.85
Lawyer (mesothelioma lawyer)49,50018,018$117.07$2,109,367.26
Donate (donate car connecticut)880320$74.91$23,971.20
Degree (psychology degree online)27,1009,864$45.98$453,546.72
Hosting (hosting dedicated server)74,00026,936$35.68$961,076.48
Claim (mesothelioma claim)2,400874$108.59$94,907.66
Conference Call (rogers conference call)26095$72.79$6,915.05
Trading (westpac online trading)880320$54.63$17,481.60
Software (email marketing software)60,50022,022$34.68$763,722.96
Recovery (raid data recovery)9,9003,604$54.79$197,463.16
Transfer (managed file transfer)4,4001,601$21.21$33,957.21
Gas/Electricity (fleet gas cards)1,600582$16.72$9,731.04
Classes (business classes online)27,1009,864$35.63$351,454.32
Rehab (executive drug rehab)390142$37.12$5,271.04
Treatment (mesothelioma treatment)8,1002,985$85.06$253,904.10
Cord Blood (cord blood ontario)480175$38.88$6,804.00

Below is Wordstream’s infographic on most expensive Adwords. It is a great visual on the crazy money Google makes off of Adwords. However, I think it also shows the effectiveness of Adwords. People wouldn’t pay these insane prices if Google wasn’t delivering targeted traffic. Overall, it is a win-win senerio, and probably the reason Adwords generates so much revenue for the big G!

Related Posts: