Pay Per Click Versus "Organic" Search Engine Listings - The Pros and Cons and Best Uses for Each
What's the difference?
For those who aren't quite clear what the term "natural" or "organic" search engine-listing means, they describe the "editorial" search results on any particular engine. These results are professed to be non-biased - meaning that the engine will not accept money to influence the rankings of any individual sites. This is quite different than the paid advertising (Pay Per Click) that appears in the "sponsored" or "featured" results, in which higher positions are awarded to the companies willing to pay the most per visitor or click.
Why is organic search important?
Although paying for Pay Per Click listings initially seems the obvious answer, organic search listings are still very important to both searchers and web site advertisers. Knowledgeable searchers, who understand the difference between paid and organic results are more likely to hold the natural results in a higher regard, much like a person reading a newspaper or magazine would be more positively influenced by an article about a particular product or service than by a paid advertisement from the company that sells it. In addition, organic results even the playing field. Companies or individuals with smaller marketing budgets can complete with larger organisations as the natural results are based on relevancy to the search term rather than the amount you are willing or able to pay for each click through to your web site.
What are the cons?
Unfortunately, it takes a certain amount of knowledge and programming skills to optimise for organic search listings. It can also take a ridiculous length of time to be indexed. It often takes anywhere from two days to as much as six months to be listed on a search engine. Several weeks is the norm, but you could get lucky and submit just a couple days before an engine does a complete refresh of their database.
Which One Gets More Clicks?
I am frequently asked "Which listing type do searchers click on more often: natural "organic" search engine results or paid "sponsored" adverts?" Recent studies have confirmed my standard response, that the answer is a classic case of...it depends!
Searcher behaviour varies greatly depending on the demographics of the searcher (men v women, experienced Internet users v novices), the type of search a person is conducting (information-oriented v purchase-oriented) and the engine where the search is being conducted.
To reach the greatest number of potential customers and maximize the results of your advertising campaign, you must be visible in natural organic results AND sponsored listings.
Here are six possible scenarios to help you prioritise and decide which path(s) to follow when setting up your search engine marketing campaign:
1. Limited Advertising Budget
2. Website That Can't Be Modified
3. Need Immediate Results
4. Guaranteed Top Placement
For a complete guide to setting up and managing your Pay Per Click campaign, download our guide: "Maximising Your Pay Per Click Campaign" read an excerpt here: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/book_5.html
Ultimately, focus on the keywords that work best and achieve the best conversion rates and the highest return on investment (ROI). For more detailed advice on how to measure your conversions and ROI, download our guide: "Measuring Success", read an excerpt here: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/book_6.html
5. A Need To Change Advert Content or Timing
6 Ad-Adverse Audience
The above guidelines will help you assess the relative priority of optimisation and Pay Per Click advertising, but how should you implement each method? Simultaneously or one at a time?
Generally speaking I would recommend that you start the Pay Per Click campaign slightly before the optimisation of your web site. The immediacy of a Pay Per Click campaign will bring you visitors in the short term, and more importantly it will also allow you to measure what is (and is not) working on your web site; are the landing pages for your adverts converting your visitors, are you targeting the most effective keywords, etc.
Armed with the results of this testing you can optimise your web site effectively and avoid costly delays that occur while waiting for search engines to re-crawl newly optimised pages. Only when you are completely happy that your web site is the best it can be should you submit it to the search engines.
When these organic listings start to bring visitors to your web site, you can re-evaluate you Pay Per Click spend. It may be that your ROI on these adverts is acceptable and you continue as is, or you may wish to reduce your advertising spend. A quick calculation on your conversion rates should give you the answer. For more information see our guide: "Measuring Success", read an excerpt here: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/book_6.html
Today, most marketers accept that web site optimisation for organic listings and Pay Per Click advertising is not an either/or proposition. For a well-rounded and effective search marketing campaign that reaches the greatest number of searchers, marketers should blend both natural and paid listings, capitalising on their complementary strengths and weaknesses.
For a complete guide to marketing on the Internet, including:
∑ The General Principles of Internet Marketing
Why not purchase the whole series of downloadable guides for the discounted price of £64.95. Click here for more information: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/promo_ebooks.html Justine Curtis Enable UK Internet Marketing Information and Resources Make your web site work harder! Web: http://www.enable-uk.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Article from Internet Marketing Tips Newsletter, a monthly publication of Enable-UK Copyright © 2004 Enable-UK.
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