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Is it time to move on from Google?

     
9:06 pm on Jul 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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With Google results not poorer than ever due to brand domination, ROI on advertising at all time lows, I ask a simple question :

Is it time to move on from Google?

Yandex has been quietly busy building an English search engine in the Netherlands and Bing well I think they're doing their best, both have their faults but they don't show brands repeatedly in their SERPS and maybe just maybe with the support of webmasters could build a rival to Google that would keep them honest.

Google isn't going to change, they will keep SME's suppressed whilst suckers keep spending on advertising. The only way to evoke change is switch to supporting a Search Engine that supports the many not the few.
7:03 pm on July 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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moved on from Google because my target market (shoppers) left Google.

Google's revenues from its own properties were up 21.46 percent in 1Q 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. If shoppers are leaving Google, it must be because they're clicking on ads.
7:33 pm on July 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google isn't going to change, they will keep SME's suppressed whilst suckers keep spending on advertising. The only way to evoke change is switch to supporting a Search Engine that supports the many not the few.
Yep but that's a lot more difficult than it looks at present. The Google fans will still keep shilling for Google and the the SMEs will still keep getting hammered by Google's "improvements". At this stage it is hard not to be completely cynical about Google and its motivations. There are two more EUC investigations underway and one of them involves Adsense.

Regards...jmcc
9:25 pm on July 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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suckers keep spending on advertising


On my planet, it's the businesses who to turn a profit from their ads who keep spending on advertising.
12:18 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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On my planet, it's the businesses who to turn a profit from their ads who keep spending on advertising.


Not true there's plenty of Companies out there living on turnover, not profit, or Zombie Companies that burn Shareholder money on ads and then go back and ask for more. Dumb investors and advertising that are blinded by reality.

Take a recent example of an Online Mattress Company, this company is burning shareholders money on ads on Google and their cost per sale is 250 of which 15% is returned, its online sales grew to 12m per year with a 11.3m loss. Now they keep on advertising presumably they are attempting to build a brand. But do ads on Google build a brand? I think ads on Google at best buy you as Andy Warhol once said "15 minutes of fame".

If shoppers are leaving Google, it must be because they're clicking on ads.


Well someone or something is clicking the ads but average conversion is 1.7% on Google which I don't think stacks up to profit. The whole thing reminds me of a Ponzi scheme.
12:49 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Mods Note: Let's keep this discussion on topic & productive.

We all have many reasons to have strong personal feelings about Google. Whining about Google or blindly supporting Google doesn't help any of us make smarter business decisions. This is why off-topic or editorializing comments will be deleted. Let's all work together to have a productive & profitable discussion :)
5:46 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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even though the knowledge box is is siphoning off traffic


Not siphoning, stealing: I saw a knowledge box a couple of days ago that was a verbatim copy of Wikipedia's summary.
8:31 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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On my planet, it's the businesses who to turn a profit from their ads who keep spending on advertising.
The problem is that Google has shifted from being a search engine based on organic SERPS to a Pay For Inclusion search engine where the top positions are up for sale.This means that webmasters are not competing on merit of content or information but on who has the biggest advertising budget. A lot of small businesses find it difficult to compete on that basis and may shift to Social Media marketing which can have a higher success rate.

Regards...jmcc
8:51 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I really wish Google would be open about this instead of bleating the old line about user experience. My main competitor spends a huge amount on paid advertising to get traffic, and they are the one and only site which has domain clustering in my niche. Even when I search for 'widget my site', they often show up. It's so frustrating.
9:11 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Last time I looked I didn't see a participation trophy promise for websites. We know that money speaks and if you have it and want to play you can be number 1 2 3 whatever. Yet the web does find things and some SEs return different results. Perhaps focus on the alternative (not replace, just do something else!) might be more productive.

And that social media, too.
11:56 am on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google's revenues from its own properties were up 21.46 percent in 1Q 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. If shoppers are leaving Google, it must be because they're clicking on ads.

What Google earns does not pay my employees or my bills. Ultimately I must go where the market is and because shoppers were and are continuing to leave Google that is what I had to do as well. Two studies paint the picture better than I can with words:

BloomReach: In 2016 55% of shoppers, an 11% increase from 2015, started their product search first on Amazon. Source: [go.bloomreach.com...]

Slice Intelligence: 43% of all ecommerce revenue generated in 2016 went to Amazon. Source: [intelligence.slice.com...]
12:16 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I just looked a little more closely at Bing. Our rankings are not bad on Bing but there is very little traffic and atm I can't discern if it converts ..
12:58 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes I am confused by your post. Did you fully read the links you posted?

1st - I don't understand your point in saying "what Google earns does not pay my employees". Why would another company pay for your employees? What Google earns should pay for Google employees and what glakes earns should pay for glakes employees. We are all separate businesses that need to pay for our own expenses.

2nd - You say you "must go where the market is". Google is still handling over 2 trillion searches a year. I don't understand how someone can claim that 2 trillion searches is not a viable market to target.

3rd - You link to a BloomReach study that clearly states "However, comparison shopping is a double-edged sword for Amazon" . The study states that 70% of Amazon shoppers will search elsewhere even if they found what they want on Amazon. So according to this study even if someone starts at Amazon, they are likely to still use search engines before buying.

4th - The BloomReach study also says that more than 1 out 3 consumers start the buying process with search engines. Why would a business want to leave Google when a third of buyers start with search engines?

5th - The Slice Intelligence report does not address Google search. It just looks at ecommerce growth. Amazon growth should be strong considering it often operates at a loss. If you talk with Amazon sellers you will hear many horror stories about how Amazon hurts them as they keep chasing after more users.

I can understand why someone would expand their strategy to include Amazon. I can also understand why someone would hate Google but suggest they do not base business decisions on emotions. Why should someone leave Google when it handles 2 trillion searches, is where 1/3 of shoppers start looking, and is one of the places where 70% of Amazon buyers go for a second opinion?

Neither Google or Amazon is my friend. They are business relationships that I need to professionally manage and monitor so my business can make the best progress.
1:03 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I can't imagine a vertical where you have google organic not bring shoppers. Even the youngest generation or hyper-hype buyers (read "exclusive" newsletter subs) still make Google search for comparison and awareness.

Sure they might not convert from Google, but sure as hell they will help your thing stand out in the marketplace where they do convert.
2:50 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@goodroi

I am confused by your post. Did you fully read the links you posted?

I'm sorry my post was confusing. I'll do my best to be more specific in responding to your points.

1st - I don't understand your point in saying "what Google earns does not pay my employees". Why would another company pay for your employees? What Google earns should pay for Google employees and what glakes earns should pay for glakes employees. We are all separate businesses that need to pay for our own expenses.

Your question would be better directed at Editorial Guy. I was only responding to his post about Google's revenue, which has absolutely no relationship to my earnings whatsoever.

2nd - You say you "must go where the market is". Google is still handling over 2 trillion searches a year. I don't understand how someone can claim that 2 trillion searches is not a viable market to target.

Two trillion is a figure not broken down by category. People are searching for all kinds of stuff including information, p*rn and yes some are searching for products. If shoppers are not going to Google first, why should Google be a top priority for my business? So these people can find owner's manuals, user guides and where my business is located at so they know how long it will take to get their order when purchased on Amazon? Keep in mind the Google zombies many of us in ecommerce have spoken about are these types of people with some price shoppers mixed in.

3rd - You link to a BloomReach study that clearly states "However, comparison shopping is a double-edged sword for Amazon" . The study states that 70% of Amazon shoppers will search elsewhere even if they found what they want on Amazon. So according to this study even if someone starts at Amazon, they are likely to still use search engines before buying.

Most shoppers go to Amazon and then some go off to price shop or find other information as I noted previously. I see it on a daily basis. In the end, most are purchasing on Amazon with Google having the lowest conversion rate among large marketplaces (Amazon and eBay) and other search engines.

4th - The BloomReach study also says that more than 1 out 3 consumers start the buying process with search engines. Why would a business want to leave Google when a third of buyers start with search engines?

Because that 1/3 of users is split among all the search engines. Bing and Yahoo convert at twice the rate of Google, which I blame largely on Google cloaking/personalizing search results, rotating what little buyer traffic they have in an attempt to appear relevant along with the other cross-property promoting they do. A conversion rate of 1-1.5% of maybe Google's 25% product search market reach is not much at all. But we each have our own definition of leaving Google. For me, it included ditching Adwords and putting a stop to expenses related to organic SEO. It may not work for everyone, but my year over year sales increase of 27% without all the Google related hassle and expenses tells me I'm doing something right.

5th - The Slice Intelligence report does not address Google search. It just looks at ecommerce growth. Amazon growth should be strong considering it often operates at a loss. If you talk with Amazon sellers you will hear many horror stories about how Amazon hurts them as they keep chasing after more users.

The Slice Intelligence report highlights where shoppers are spending their money, and it's mostly on Amazon and not on the independent sites advertised in Adwords or the independents found in organic search. This is a pretty big deal to those evaluating the role Google has in their business, especially when it comes to building, maintaining and marketing an independent website. If Amazon is raking in 43% of total ecommerce revenue, and is driving 53% of total ecommerce growth, that leaves 57% of shoppers going elsewhere to places like eBay, Etsy, Bing, Yahoo, major brand retailers like WalMart, and what little is left to search engines. Because Amazon's growth has continued unabated, we're likely to see search losing even more marketshare in the coming years. Investing a substantial amount of time, effort and money into a sinking ship is not a wise business decision.

Amazon growth should be strong considering it often operates at a loss.

Amazon had net earnings of $727 million in Q1 of 2017. Source: [techcrunch.com...] Past Amazon losses are largely the result of acquisitions, just as I suspect their purchase of Whole Foods will briefly drive them into the red again.

The latest data I have seen, from a separate June 2017 study, shows that Amazon is getting 29% of the first product searches while ALL search engines combined get just 15%. Read the UPS Pulse Study at: [solutions.ups.com...] Not that it matters which study is referenced as they all paint a bleak picture for search. And with Google having about half the conversion rate of Bing and Yahoo, I can't justify wasting much time with them as the ROI is so poor.
4:35 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Your question would be better directed at Editorial Guy. I was only responding to his post about Google's revenue, which has absolutely no relationship to my earnings whatsoever.

I wasn't commenting on your earnings, I was responding to your statement that shoppers have left Google.

Still, let's assume for the moment that shoppers have left Google. If that's the case, and if you're catering to those shoppers who have left Google, why worry about Google at all?
4:46 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Still, let's assume for the moment that shoppers have left Google. If that's the case, and if you're catering to those shoppers who have left Google, why worry about Google at all?

Or better yet, don't assume and read all the supporting studies that indicate search engines have lost a lot of first search shoppers and will likely lose more. Regarding your statement about worrying about Google, all I can say is I don't.
5:54 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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why worry about Google at all?


Exactly, best thing you ever said EG
6:56 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Or better yet, don't assume and read all the supporting studies that indicate search engines have lost a lot of first search shoppers and will likely lose more.
There's a very interesting second order question on this in whether Google is losing second search shoppers. It sounds a bit strange but not to business heads. Repeat business and customer retention is a major aspect of sales and if the customer has a good experience from the shopping site, then rather than going back to Google to search, the customer heads back to the shopping site. Now for one-off sales, this might not apply but subsequent searches where the customer is happy with the shopping site (eg Amazon), Google has been cut out of the process. Google gets one attempt at the first time shoppers but does it get a second?

Regards...jmcc
7:10 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Read the UPS Pulse Study at: [solutions.ups.com...] Not that it matters which study is referenced as they all paint a bleak picture for search.

@glakes I think you might want want to re-read that study you shared. The study only mentions search engines a single time. That solo mention states search engines were used the same amount as a starting point for e-commerce searches in 2016 as in 2017. I don't see how that paints a bleak picture for search. If this study paints a bleak picture, it is for e-commerce websites which suffered a 14.3% decrease vs search engines which had zero growth or decrease. Before we make bad assumptions we should also remember the study only mentions where buyers start their product search. It does not mention what sites & resources are used by buyers after they start searching.

Each website and industry is different but I based on the analytics from large e-commerce sites that I handle, the death of Google is overrated. People can hate Google as much as they want but letting personal emotions distort their business decisions is rarely a smart idea.
8:23 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think you might want want to re-read that study you shared. The study only mentions search engines a single time.

There's no reason to re-read the study. Search is such a low driver of sales, for those of us that are diversified, that mentioning search engines really is not worthy of more attention. Those who have been following UPS' Pulse report over the years understand they have not focused much on where consumers start their search at, with this latest report being the first that I can recall. Regardless, 15% is a terribly low number for anyone to tout as being important to ecommerce unless such businesses are primarily reliant on Google for sales. And if they are, they had best think twice because they are leaving a lot of sales on the table.

That solo mention states search engines were used the same amount as a starting point for e-commerce searches in 2016 as in 2017.

As with any report, they all have their shortfalls. And we are only halfway into 2017, so I don't think the UPS Pulse report can accurately predict what the final outcome will be for 2017. The UPS Pulse report used 5189 panelists, which is a small pool considering how many people shop online. I prefer Slice's report as they evaluate millions of individual's electronic receipts. Though the Slice report does not delve too deep into search engines, it shows where consumer money is being spent and very little is spent at the independent websites that people were/are advertising in Adwords and SEO'ing for organic search results. This comes full circle to the OP's question - Is it time to move on from Google? If one owns an ecommerce website, I'd say the facts support a strong yes or at a minimum greatly reducing efforts and marketing budgets in all search engines.

Each website and industry is different but I based on the analytics from large e-commerce sites that I handle, the death of Google is overrated.

Google is not dead nor do I think they ever will be. But in my personal experience Google is not worth the time for ecommerce in its current state. What little conversions Google traffic produces is quickly consumed by time and money spent on organic SEO or Adwords. And I think all of the recent studies I've seen support the same conclusion.

People can hate Google as much as they want but letting personal emotions distort their business decisions is rarely a smart idea.

I think those that ignore trends identified in recent studies and reports are the ones letting their emotions get the best of them, especially when they erroneously equate quoting facts as hate.
8:34 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think you might want want to re-read that study you shared. The study only mentions search engines a single time. That solo mention states search engines were used the same amount as a starting point for e-commerce searches in 2016 as in 2017.


goodroi you do realise 2016 figures were disastrous for Search, It was the year that Online Shoppers stopped shopping on multisites and Amazon made huge gains. All you are saying here is Search has hit rock bottom and stayed there with a 15% share in 2017. Now add to that the benefits Amazon and Brands enjoy in SERPS and I would say for an SME advertising would hit at best 10% of buyers and then they have to convince that buying traffic that they are better than household names. Business is about conversion, 1.7% of 10% of the marketplace is what SME are getting from Google. Overall SME's market share has been reduced to under 1% if they depend on Google, lets face it you probably would do better setting up a market stall.
8:58 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@glakes You seem to be contradicting yourself. You brought up the UPS Pulse Study as evidence that it is a bleak picture for search and then you say "I don't think the UPS Pulse report can accurately predict what the final outcome will be for 2017" If this study isn't accurate why did you bring it up?

I also don't understand how you can say "15% is a terribly low number" since it is the second largest number in that graph. Yes Amazon is #1 with 29% but if you think 15% is terribly low, I guess you might think Amazon is also a low number. To put this in perspective, 15% of the USA is about 50 million shoppers. Why would a business want to shun 50 million shoppers? Not to mention the 70% of Amazon shoppers that use a secondary source like Google for comparison shopping, that is roughly another 65 million US shoppers.

I can understand expanding marketing budgets to include Amazon strategies and to expand beyond Google to other opportunities but I still can't see why it is smart to shun Google opportunities. If someone as dumb as me can figure out how to profit from e-commerce users originating from Google I have to imagine that many other capable marketers can do the same.
9:16 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@seoskunk If search has hit rock bottom, why did Google handle at least 1 trillion searches each year from 2012-2015 and then over 2 trillion searches in 2016?

We don't know how many of those queries are e-commerce. If only 1% of those searches are e-commerce we are talking over 20 billion e-commerce searches every year. I think billions & billions of e-commerce searches is not something that should be ignored.
9:39 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@goodroi Google seems to be able to do a good job until you want to buy something, off the top of my head over 80% of searches are non-commercial. Sure Google is not something to be ignored but Google makes it abundantly clear they prefer brands in commercial search and skew algorithms accordingly. Add to that the fact Consumers are clicking Ads but not converting and you have a poor marketplace for any SME. It's not about how many searches or clicks it's about conversion and ROI. I don't think the ROI for Google stacks up for most people anymore and I don't believe Google are delivering what the consumer wants. It's e-commerce search that has hit rock bottom.
10:37 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You seem to be contradicting yourself. You brought up the UPS Pulse Study as evidence that it is a bleak picture for search and then you say "I don't think the UPS Pulse report can accurately predict what the final outcome will be for 2017" If this study isn't accurate why did you bring it up?

It's a single report among many, yet it still can be judged with more credibility than those with biased opinions that lack supporting data. Those biased opinions may come from those that own hobby sites monetized with Adsense, SEO providers that feed off clients (businesses) who think Google is the Alpha and Omega of ecommerce, haters, fan boys, etc. Regardless, none of us here produced the numbers in these reports and all of them indicate search in general (not just Google), has lost much if its relevance in ecommerce. As I noted previously, I prefer the Slice report as it indicates where people are spending money at, and conversions matter to me and most people operating ecommerce websites. Unless one is promoting Amazon in Adwords, or SEO'ing their Amazon product pages in Google, that leaves very little traffic left going to independent websites.

I also don't understand how you can say "15% is a terribly low number" since it is the second largest number in that graph.

The unaccounted 18% is an even larger number than search engines are in the graph. Though Google is the largest recipient of search traffic, that 15% is still split among the other search engines that don't change SERPS on the fly like Google does.

To put this in perspective, 15% of the USA is about 50 million shoppers. Why would a business want to shun 50 million shoppers?

I don't think anyone here is advocating adding noindex to their pages to be excluded from search engines, and everyone is pleased when Google sends them a visitor that converts. But there are some of us that evaluated the time, money and effort expended on Google Adwords/organic SEO and determined the ROI was not justified so we moved on.

I can understand expanding marketing budgets to include Amazon strategies and to expand beyond Google to other opportunities but I still can't see why it is smart to shun Google opportunities.

What opportunities exist in Google are diluted by cloaked/personalized search results, cross-site promotions and traffic patterns that indicate Google is rotating buyer traffic. All the on the fly adjustments Google makes in the SERPS manifests itself in a poor conversion rate while Bing and Yahoo easily double that of Google. That poor conversion rate in Google results in a far lower ROI which I found to be unacceptable and not worth getting out of bed in the morning for. I still get a lot of traffic from Google, with some converting traffic, but I don't fret about it or expend any efforts on Google. Buyer habits have changed and so have I. The more that fail to adapt will result in less competition for those of us that had the foresight to adjust.
10:45 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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search in general (not just Google), has lost much if its relevance in ecommerce
Search referred traffic has declined overall.

GSC reports they send me 20% to 30% less traffic than they did 2 years ago yet my traffic keeps increasing. IMO Social Media and Apps are fast overtaking the traffic that Search once had almost total control of.
11:00 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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why worry about Google at all?
EG's question has a premise. If asking without that premise, the answer is lots of reasons: shoppers for goods might be deserting Google, but what about shoppers for restaurants, hotels, plumbers, tyre fitters, tree surgeons...? Amazon, you think?

Search is such a low driver of sales
If something has usurped Google searches for Myservice in Mytown as a primary driver of local service enquiries, would someone please tell me what it is?

I don't denigrate local networking and other long-established (and still effective) marketing tools, but anyone in a locality-based service business who thinks Google is irrelevant is haemorrhaging new clients to their competitors.

It is certainly time to put some effort and expenditure into other marketing avenues, and reduce reliance on a marketing tool that can dump you onto page 100+ of the results without warning, but move on from (i.e. dismiss) Google? Don't be silly.
11:09 pm on July 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Search referred traffic has declined overall.


Yes, it has. But, as I said earlier, converting traffic has - for me, anyway - increased. More traffic should not, of itself, be the main aim. I would rather have 20 enquiries that mean business than waste my time on the 200 that don't, and if I have one vacancy then as long as the one applicant I want is among them, the fewer applications I receive, the better.
1:41 am on July 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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shoppers for goods might be deserting Google, but what about shoppers for restaurants, hotels, plumbers, tyre fitters, tree surgeons...? Amazon, you think?

Some are going to Amazon for their electrician, plumbing, landscaping, etc. service needs. Amazon is still pushing forward with their home and business services offering as can be seen at [amazon.com...]

I know the owner of a larger home improvement company rather well. They do six figures in sales monthly, and stopped advertising on Adwords a couple years back. They phased out their Adwords spending and found Angies List to be a better source of leads. A smaller automotive shop owner I know who does seven figures yearly spends $0 on Adwords and organic SEO. Instead, he found a place called Repair Pal to be a good generator of leads along with some other similar types of online quoting/comparison sites. For all I know Amazon's home and business service offerings, Angies List, Repair Pal may be strictly operating in the USA. Not surprisingly, Amazon is ranked number one in Google for hire plumber, hire electrician, etc. with the local pack (two listings) well out of view beneath the fold. Since Home Advisor and Google have partnered in the services sector, they have some expected good exposure in Google from what I see. For restaurants, most people I know go to Yelp (mostly from their app).

The service sector is not my forte, but I just don't see where Google has allocated much room for the smaller independents. SERPS with top 10 plumbers, top 25 electricians, etc. types of sites are above the fold (underneath Amazon) while all the licensed professionals are buried. It's not a good user experience when Google buries the most qualified local service providers IMO.

But, as I said earlier, converting traffic has - for me, anyway - increased.

I'm the opposite - Google is sending my site more traffic and far less conversions. I wonder if it has anything to do with your location? The EU seems more engaged in the effort to keep big search engines, marketplaces and social media sites honest then they are here in the USA.
3:20 pm on July 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My 2 cents, lucy is right, it's about your target audience. Always focus on them, encourage feedback from them and you should do just fine regardless of what Google does.

I just wanted to add that Google has consistently been moving away from YOU. Over time they have required less and less webmaster input besides the actual on page content to make up their minds about your content. Since Google is moving towards having your devices simply give you answers to questions by voice the ultima goal at google is not to be a search engine at all, simply an answer provider.

For that reason you absolutely should be focusing on your audience and not ignore any source they come from, especially when that's not search. Attracting people from offline is only becoming more and more important over time too, don't forget about that.
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