You'd be a pretty crummy online marketer if you didn't realize Google included advertisements in its search results, but it seems the public is less aware when it comes to the search engine's main revenue stream.
Just half of survey respondents said they had spotted the ads in search results, even though more than four-fifths of queries return at least one advertisement.
The full extent of people's confusion over search engine results is reflected in this video:
So, what should online marketers take from these stats?
This is by no means the death of search engine optimization.
The days of link spamming seem to be numbered, though, and emerging tactics seem to have strong similarities to traditional marketing and PR.
It would be naive to imagine Google's efforts to increase its ad revenue are not presenting huge challenges to companies reliant on organic traffic.
However, it's not just a case of liking it or lumping it for marketers; there are steps you can take to mitigate the impact that advertisements can have on your traffic levels.
Top organic spot is more crucial than ever before.
On a 20-inch monitor at a resolution of 1,600 x 900, the presence of three Google ads pushes everything but the first result below the fold. You must be on top to be seen.
Target the long tail.
Results for long tail keywords
often include fewer ads than more competitive terms. If you can capture searchers at the top of the funnel and get them onto your site, you can work on converting them into customers.
Wean yourself off Google.
If you're reliant on organic traffic for most of your website traffic, you're in a precarious position. Rankings change for a number of reasons, and if yours slide, you could see an unexpected drop in visitors. Once someone is on your site, encourage them to sign up for a newsletter or to engage with you on social media. That way, you can generate repeat traffic without being reliant on your search rankings.
It may feel as though you're playing into Google's hands here, but evidence suggests
that a strong presence in both paid and organic search is more beneficial than a strong organic presence alone.
Explore other channels.
SEO isn't dead, but it isn't unrivaled. Social media has an increasingly large part to play in online lead generation, so embrace it. Just make sure the amount you spend on it is proportional to the returns you can expect.
[RELATED: Learn why you need a content marketing plan at our fall content marketing boot camp.]
Online marketers have been adapting since the industry was born, and it shouldn't be any different just because it's the world's biggest search engine that's throwing them curveballs.
Will Stevens is part of the 123-reg blog team. The company is the UK's largest domain name registrar.