How do you react when paid ads show in your search results?

Considering that paying third parties to conduct SEO is commonplace, just how is that different from paid advertisements? Do organic search results and paid ads have different effects on you as a user?

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Great question. My reaction is based on the relevance of the information. If it is related to what I just searched on, I may click on it. However, if it is just the corporate website for something I'll scroll down and click the actual link (regular results not sponsored) simply because sometimes the sponsored ads take you to a landing page instead of the actual home page.

I am probably the odd exception. When I'm searching for something, I usually go 5 to 10 pages deep within the search results. Why? I want to know that I'm finding quality information, not just highly ranked or sponsored. Think of every page after page 3 as where all the "Indie" results are.

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne, director at Stephen Roger Osborne

My own search habits are similar to Jef's. I will click on an ad if I adjudge it to be relevant, even knowing it will go to a landing page. More often than not, the info I want is on that page, i.e.. a simple download. If i'm doing research for a project, I too will go much deeper (up to 10 pages) through the organic results. I guess inherent in the question is the perceived and subtle difference between obvious (an ad) SEO and hidden (organic). The difference will matter to a greater or lesser degree depending on the type of product and the mindset of the prospect.