There's been quite a bit of talk lately in the SEO world discussing how "it's a Google world and we're all just living in it." Lately, we've been noticing that this is increasingly true of search results in the home performance category.
For example, check out this screenshot, taken on my 13-inch MacBook Pro, from a search for "energy audit, portland, maine."
As you can see, only a tiny portion of the results "above the fold" (before you scroll down the page) are organic search results that you can even hope to achieve with traditional search engine optimization. Everything else is either paid advertisements (PPC), or links to other Google products and services.
Thus, in order for your business to show up for this term in this location above the fold, it's probably a pretty good idea to run some basic pay-per-click advertising.
Now, here's another search I ran for the term "insulation contractor" with my location set to Cleveland, Ohio:
Check it out. Not a single result above the fold is a traditional full organic search listing. Zero real estate. Everything is either paid advertisements, Google products and services, or Google+ Local (pinned) results. So, in order for your business to show up above the fold here, you would have to have a Google+ Local page, a pay-per-click advertising campaign, or both.
Now, we could sit and talk all day about whether this is fair on Google's part, or whether they're really sticking by their informal business motto of "don't be evil." But the fact remains that Google is the biggest search engine in the world by far, and is the number one source that people use to find local businesses in their area. If you want to take advantage of that search traffic, you probably want to play ball here: get a basic PPC campaign going, and take control of, and manage, your Google+ Local listing.
In short, this is why we're constantly propounding the importance of Google and their products. It is increasingly a Google-dominated world, and we think it's smart for businesses who want more customers to take advantage of the Google products and tools that are available (most of which are free), in order to help market your business.
All thoughts welcome in the comments.