ORGANIC SEO VERUS PAID PLACEMENT:
What is “organic” search and how can it help your company?
The first time I heard the term “organic search” I immediately
thought of organic food at the grocery store. So, is this organic
search healthier for me? Will it reduce my chances of getting cancer?
Not only can the search engines bring most of the world’s knowledge to
my desktop, but now they can prevent deadly diseases too! Imagine my
disappointment when I learned organic search was simply the next new
buzzword for the concept of pure, or crawler-based search. As some of
our readers may find it challenging to keep up with all of the latest
lingo, I thought I'd take a moment to at least explain the concept of
Organic describes a search that returns results by indexing pages
based on content and keyword relevancy. This is in contrast to listings
ranked based on who paid the most money to appear at the top such as
those on Overture.com. Sometimes this is called “pure” or “natural
search” as it is supposed to be “untainted” by commercial payments or
Historically, Google has led the way in championing the virtues of
natural or organic search. Its primary focus has always been to return
fast, highly relevant results based on the content of the page, the
relevancy of links pointing to that page, and other “objective”
criteria. Sponsored listings have always been clearly separated from
the organic search results on Google. However, many other engines have
experimented with mixing the two types of search without clearly
labeling which is which. This has been followed by public outcries, and
at least one cautionary set of statements issued by the FTC in 2002.
Pros and Cons of Organic Search vs Paid Search
Unlike organic foods at your local grocery store, you aren’t
required to pay extra to reap the healthy benefits of “organic” search.
So what are the benefits of organic over paid search?
- Greater Click-throughs: People trust
“organically grown” search results more than they do sponsored results.
While the engines business is supported by paid ads, many consumers
prefer the organic search results. Due to the contextual nature of
organic search, the listings can be more relevant and offer a greater
depth of choices. Therefore, while paid ads can play an important part
in your marketing strategy, ultimately it is the organic search results
that will more likely yield the greater click-through rates when all
other things are equal. Therefore, it's this type of listing that will
maximize the traffic to your site whenever you climb to the top.
- Power of Branding: More and more large
corporations are investing resources into organic search to gain the
marketing benefits of promoting their brand. For example, most
consumers would expect to find Dell.com in a search for computers. If
your company does not show up for the keyword results in which you'd
expect to appear it can be embarrassing. Consumers may wonder if
Company X is as important as they once were if they don't even show up
in MSN, Yahoo or Google. Conversely, inserting your brand in the top
search results can give the impression that your company is important.
Therefore, smaller companies can give the impression of big business
importance by securing aa better position in organic search than their
- Greater Trust Equals Greater Conversions: Most
adults learn to apply a healthy dose of skepticism when they see a
commercial on TV, a banner ad on the Web, or a sponsored ad on a search
engine. After all, we know those ads are commercially motivated and may
not always be the most relevant product or solution for our needs. It
may simply represent the company that was able to spend the most money
to get their message in front of me. Sometimes bigger companies do
offer the best products, but there's no guarantee. There's certainly
not the same level of trust that we see from visitors arriving from
organic search. Organic search can, of course, be commercially
influenced. However, a recent survey shows that people tend to trust
organic results compared to sponsored listings. On the whole, you
should see more visitors from organic search converting to sales,
assuming your rankings were for targeted, relevant keywords. In the
business world, ROI, or Return On Investment, is king. Fortunately,
organic search can give you the high ROI you're looking for or your
boss is demanding.
- Organic is Free: After all these years, it’s
still free to submit to Google, arguably the most popular of the
organic search engines right now. Google has always been adamant about
not charging for inclusion in its index of 4.2 billion pages. Most
other organic engines will also index you for free, although some like
Yahoo do have paid inclusion options. Paid inclusion simply guarantees
your page will get indexed quickly and stay indexed for as long as you
maintain your subscription, but does not promise a particular ranking.
However, if you have a Web site with good quality content and links
from third party sites, paid inclusion is “nice-to-have”. It can be
very useful in getting pages indexed or re-indexed quickly. This allows
you to quickly test various page designs and to feed news and other
time-sensitive content to the search engine as quickly as possible.
- Organic Rankings are Not Automatic: With
organic listings, you cannot simply hand over a certain amount of money
and be guaranteed to quickly and automatically achieve any ranking you
desire. Instead, achieving positions in organic search requires the
proper technology, skill, and know-how. There has always been a cloud
of mystery around the process of achieving top rankings. How's it done?
Where do I start? That’s why resources like this newsletter and
products like WebPosition Gold are essential to a business's success in
search engine marketing.
- Organic Rankings Require an Investment in Time:
The age-old adage of “nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy” rings
true with organic rankings. While they are monetarily free, simply
submitting your pages to the search engines is not enough to bring in a
flood of new visitors to your Web site. Far too many businesses have
been fooled into spending $49 or $99 to submit their site to
“thousands” of sites, 99% of which are obscure names you've probably
never heard of. The key is that someone doing a search on a major
search engine must be able to easily find your Web site.
If your site is buried at the bottom of the list, or simply fails to
appear in the first few pages of search results, you can kiss your
chances of being found good-bye. The key is to use responsible best
practices to create pages that are highly relevant to the keywords that
apply to your Web site and the products or solutions you have to offer.
In other words, optimize your pages for search engine visibility and
see how fast your position improves. To do this, you simply need to
know what each search engine needs for maximum visibility. Then tweak
your Web page's content while paying attention to off-page factors like
the number and type of links coming to your page. Tune the pages of
your site to the preferences of the major search engines and then watch
your rankings and traffic climb.
While optimizing your Web site to rank well for organic searches
takes more effort than simply buying an ad, it can provide your
business with one of the highest ROI results that you're likely to
find. Numerous studies have placed search engine optimization at the
top of the list of the most effective forms of online marketing. Its
low cost, high relevancy, and high conversion rates make it an ideal
marketing vehicle for almost any business
This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with
permission from FirstPlace Software, the makers of WebPosition
Gold. FirstPlace Software helped define the SEO industry with the
introduction of the first product to track your rankings on the major
search engines and to help you improve those rankings. A free trial
of WebPosition Gold is available from their Web site.
Contact BizWonk to discuss your Internet Marketing needs today.