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Organic Search Versus Pay Per Click

Simon Wharton, managing director of specialist online search marketing agency PushON, explains why organic online search marketing is often overlooked although it can be more effective than pay per click and paid online advertising.

Many businesses realise that they have to generate traffic to their site if they want to, at the very least, recoup the outlay invested in their Internet site. But all too often they accept the received wisdom that pay per click and paid advertising will give the return that is so eagerly sought without really fully considering online organic search marketing properly.

Pay per click and advertising on well-visited websites certainly has its benefits, I cannot and will not deny that assertion. Pay per click (PPC) is easy to understand and, unlike many marketing activities, the return can be calculated very accurately indeed – and those are the great attributes. It also gives the marketing manager or owner an immediate hit. The pressure to get results quickly is baring down and pay per click can certainly ease the pressure with immediate effect – a simple solution handed on a plate.

Yet, this singular approach is not fully justified. Yes, pay per click and paid advertising can be highly effective; we all hear the anecdotal examples of business acquaintances and their limitless praise for this approach. But the approach is limited.

I am not discounting pay per click or paid advertising: there is a place for both in combination with organic search marketing. Indeed, the best campaigns combine both approaches to stunning effect because both present different strengths which work well together. But if you have to choose there is a clear winner: organic search.

Before I explain further I really need to clarify what I mean by organic search marketing. I am referring to a collection of methods that includes using discussion forums, social networking sites, reciprocal links, identifying and utilising sites that Google and other prominent search engines use to rank websites and good old fashioned search engine optimisation: search engine ranking. And it is the last of these that I will concentrate my article on to demonstrate that there is another way of attaining the results you want from your online marketing.

So why do I have such believe in organic search marketing? What is my proof? Why, according to online experts E-consultancy, does 84% of online spend come in the form of paid placement and PPC and the small remaining 16% on organic search marketing if the latter has so much to offer?

Well, my first point is that organic search marketing has much to offer but is generally overlooked or underrated. Online marketing, as with so many disciplines, is not fully understood and if it is not understood by the buyer then they will often chose the option they can quickly get a grip of or feel comfortable with: PPC and paid placement.

We must remember as marketers that not everyone has the appreciation or understanding of online marketing. And we must remember that many marketers are experts in a particular field but do not have a full comprehension of the full marketing mix, at least not to the same depth as their specialisation.

But my proof goes further: various studies show that a prospective buyer will use organic searches 60% – 80% of the time. Moreover, organic search results gather up to 6 times more clicks than paid for advertising.

The reasons for this can possibly be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, buyers tend to trust search engines. A brand such as Google fosters confidence; advertising cannot provide the same assurance as it is bought rather than earned.

Secondly, according to a study conducted by US marketing firm Enquiro and eye tracking technology company Eyetools, surfers follow an F shaped pattern of scanning. This means that the search results, on the left, are viewed more closely than on the right where the PPCs are located.

I would like to re-iterate that PPC and paid placement certainly have a role in a comprehensive online marketing plan. The F viewing pattern extends over to the PPC – but only the top ones.

Pay per click search company Overture’s research has confirmed this viewpoint. A marketing campaign that secures a combination of a top three placement with a top placed PPC will generate a 93% chance of gaining a click.

The Advertising Association has found that Internet advertising is up 73% for the first half of the year. It certainly works for some companies. But its success is also its drawback. The more we use PPC and paid advertising the more its currency diminishes. I only have to think of texting and e-mails to back this point up: the more we use PPC the more we will all ignore it and the more the cost will go up for the most popular search words.

Online search marketing undeniably does not have the immediate hit of PPC and paid advertising. But whereas PPC and paid advertising’s effects ware off quickly, organic search marketing has a real impact in the medium to long term and even after the campaign has finished it will still yield a return. Many companies will find its longevity and substance of organic search a real benefit.

Organic search marketing benefits from low costs, established reader behaviour and the trust of many commercial and consumer surfers in their search engines to provide the most meaningful search returns.

Consequently, online search cannot be discounted from any online campaign that really wants to give a substantial return. With organic search marketing technique rapidly evolving and being popularised and PPC becoming over subscribed it can only be a matter of time before clever marketers take heed and chose another way to do their online marketing.

About the author

Simon Wharton runs well regarded web build agency Virtuaffinity and its sister company PushON – a specialist online search marketing agency. PushOn works with business from all sectors and sizes to ensure the greatest visibility possible online for its clients. Simon and his team are especially interested in making social media optimisation, SEO and blogging work effectively for their clients.