There’s a very common misconception that I want to take just a moment to completely squash. Many of the small business owners I talk to believe that the rankings in one part of Google affect the others. For example they believe that ranking well in the sponsored results will affect their ranking in the organics or in the maps. This is completely and totally NOT true.
Yellow = Sponsored (Paid) Results
Red = Maps Results
Green = Organic (Natural) Results
Imagine what would happen if Google allowed the top ranking listings in the sponsored results to also rank well in the organics by default. Just imagine the outcry that would result and rightfully so. If they did this, they would essentially be allowing a pay-for-play in the organics. This would not only anger a lot of folks but it would drive searchers elsewhere because they would eventually discover that the results are not as relevant as they could be.
Here’s the really important thing to remember. To rank well in Google’s separate sections (maps, organic, paid) you have to rank well in each one separately. One does not affect the other. Within Google, each of these sections is controlled by a separate department. Just like the sales department in your company cannot pay bills because that’s the job of the accounts payable department, the same delineations exist in Google, Inc. The sponsored listing department doesn’t deal with organics, and the organics department doesn’t deal with the maps results. This is why you have to work your way to the top of each section individually. Here’s a graphic to help you understand:
Notice that the anti-spam department (headed by Matt Cutts) is over all three other departments? This is VERY important to remember. While you have to get to the top of each section individually, you can be penalized on all three at the same time! Matt’s department can rain down punishment from above, causing your rankings in all three sections to plummet. You can even be expelled from all three!
What I want you to remember, above all else, is that bad behavior in one area can get you whacked from all areas. If you spam the map listings, you can find yourself dealing with a -40 penalty in the organics, or paying higher amounts for your clicks in the sponsored results. If you’re shopping for an online marketing company to help you, make sure they are a white hat only shop. Any company that deals in the darker side of SEO can cause you serious damage. It’s not necessary to be a shadow-lurking black hatter to get to the top of Google. You can do it through 100% Google-approved methods.
I highly recommend playing within the guidelines Google defines.