Most business people will understand the difference between paid for listings and organic listings on Google and most of them will be determined to appear highly in the organic listings as they generally percieve this (often erroneously) to be the cheapest way to get online traffic.
Back when I started working in search marketing the organic listings could be said to get the bulk of the traffic – probably around two thirds of the traffic, but over the last few years things have changed – this heat map available for download from Mediative demonstrates how important Google Adwords is for getting traffic on Google.
The heat map shows a few interesting things. The first is it’s the top 2 / 3 traditional ads and then sponsored ads (the example is for hotels but this would apply to the Google Shopping box for an ecommerce website).
After that you’ve got the local content being fed from Maps. I think it’s interesting to see the right hand ads have dropped off completely demonstrating how important it is to have a good quality score and be bidding really competitively in order to get the clicks.
Another interesting thing to note is how far down the page the first organic listing is and that it would appear that listings below that first listing get few if any clicks at all.
Although this just gives you an indication of how the SERPs are at the moment and although there will be slightly different results when you’re doing a less location based search, if you’re in any doubt whether Google Adwords should be part of your online marketing strategy I think this clearly demonstrates that you need to start thinking about it as the foundation stone of your strategy for the future.