The Ad Divide: Search Engine Results

So your vacation’s coming up, and you decide to look for hotels. You open google and type in your query in the search bar. The first results you see in your search for a “hotel Virginia” which have “Ad” written on its corner is from Google Adwords, and the results showing up below without the “Ad” label are the most relevant websites containing the words you typed in earlier or “keywords”. To better understand these your search results, let’s dissect these terms:

Keywords and Relevance

Keywords are the most common terms used by those searching online to find a certain product, service, or topic. As such, keywords are the very foundation of how ads and non-ad search results show up. In our example, “hotel Virginia” are the keywords that brought up the paid AdWords results and the non-paid results.


At its core, AdWords is an advertising platform on search engines, wherein a business pays so that their product/service shows up when users search for specific keywords. These businesses “pay per click”: they set a budget, their advertisement shows up on the top results, and every time someone clicks on the advertisement, they’re charged a certain amount against their budget. Google would, of course, prioritize business websites that have paid for Google Adwords (now “Google Ads”), which is why the top results will always be more than likely to be Ads (depending on the keywords).

Non-advertisement Results

google search result on laptop screen

After you scroll down the ads, there would be websites and pages that are relevant to or contain your keywords. But of the hundreds and thousands of websites containing your search terms, how could a website rank higher on the search results? This is why the practice (and industry) of “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO has become quite prevalent. SEO aims to make your website “relevant” to search engines so it would appear higher on the search results by optimizing the website’s contents and coding, among others.

To Ad or Not To Ad

So you might ask, “why won’t businesses just buy Adwords?” For one, AdWords could be expensive as explained earlier, and some businesses believe that they won’t be able to compete with bigger companies or businesses in the advertising game. Instead, these businesses make a website which is deemed “relevant” by the search engine. Some users opt not to click on ads. These users would prefer the “relevant” or “popular” search results as they seem more organic as compared to paid advertising.

Choose Carefully

If you’re someone who owns a business (or plans on starting one soon), you might even want to consider investing in AdWords or capitalize on SEO. Whichever you’ll choose, know that your business could potentially be in every front page of search results.

So, the next time you search for a product or service online, you’ll be aware of how or why those results show up. The bottom line is that paid ads will always come up first, and relevant search results will follow suit, use that knowledge at your advantage.

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