Marketing Your Website

SEO Pays Off More than PPC

Two essential methods for driving customers to your website involve organic, or SEO (Search Engine Optimization); and paid, or PPC (Pay Per Click) strategies. The SEO and PPC landscape is constantly evolving, and maintaining an effective campaign for both avenues requires specific tailoring.

National bus brokers developed an early presence in the top of organic search results and continue to maintain strong placement in PPC endeavors. The “anti-broker” group travel directory BusRates.com managed to dethrone many of the national brokers from hundreds of keywords through extensive SEO, and now appears number one organically for most charter-related searches.

It’s important for your own company website to be easily found for common search terms that relate to your business, services and geographic area. When more than 60% of people do not go past the first page of search results, it’s paramount for your business to be up front.

Paid Ads

PPC, while instantaneous in catapulting your website to the top of search result pages, continues to be crowded admist escalating prices.

In 2004, 50 cents per click landed your website in 1st place out of 5 advertisers for major charter-centric keywords. Today, over $6 per click puts you in 1st place out of more than 40 advertisers. The more advertisers who participate in Google’s PPC system, the more expensive the advertising becomes since people are bidding for placement.

As PPC rates increase, the trend is for advertisers to become more precise about targeting the best keywords for their audience.

Newer studies show customers increasingly favor organic search results rather than click on paid links in Google.

Research indicates that paid ads, which show up as “sponsored links” in Google, are clicked less and organic listings are clicked more.

In December 2009, the Prairie Business Magazine revealed an 80/20 split between search engine traffic clicks on organic and paid listings. More recently, The Search Agency compiled reports to show a more dramatic 94/6 split; in which only 6% of search engine traffic is clicking on paid ads. The research from various firms was artistically represented in the detailed infographic featured below.

A sample of the The Search Group Infographic

94% of search engine traffic clicks are for organic listings.

Organic Listings

Moving up in search results through organic efforts is more fruitful in the long-run, but is a much more laborious process and can take as long as a year before seeing results. There is also no one way to get to the top. Google has continually changed its algorithms to prevent sites from manipulating techniques to reach the top of organic listings in search results; algorithms most recently changed by its Panda and Penguin updates.

In light of inevitable future changes, Shaad Hamid of SEOptimize shares his own 25 online marketing trends for 2013, many of which forecast continual changes made by Google to deliver better, more appropriate organic search results to its users while preventing others from gaming the system. Hamid cites “context-sensitive content” among other strategies for staying on top of SEO.

Items that have stood the test of time in achieving stronger organic placement include basics such as applying proper meta tags, labels and keywords in your webpage headers and content. Free submission to Google Maps (Bing and Yahoo, also) is pivotal as search engines continue to enhance the visibility of local results for geo-centric searches. Link-building to high-quality, relevant sites also helps; but be aware mass-linking to low-quality sites has actually been shown to hurt SEO.

Great tools for assessing if a website is a good place to link to and advertise on can be found in our October 2nd post Where Should I Advertise.

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