The following post is from Lisa Shockley, SEO Manager, and Jonathan Brinksman, Web Marketing Analyst.
Recently an excellent article was released by Jeff Haden at Inc. on the state of organic search and the now mandatory participation of advertisers in Google AdWords. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, the article is based around new research from WordStream [a PPC software company] stating that for those keywords with high commercial intent, paid ad clicks outnumber organic listing clicks nearly 2:1. High commercial intent is defined as those with an apparent intent to purchase a product or service.
At MICROS eCommerce, the balance between SEO and PPC marketing is a constant and ever-evolving relationship; one that we feel is not defined by market studies, but instead by client-level analytics. Don’t get us wrong; statistics often help us understand search trends larger than our own industry and can often provide insight into new strategies, tactics and opportunities for our clients. But when it comes to an optimal ratio of where each of our client’s precious resources are spent, both in terms of time and budget, we plan to continue on with the idea that the analytics will lead the way.
With all these impressive statistics surrounding Paid Search, it might seem like the only option is to start throwing money at Google. Certainly, Google won’t say “no” to more of your money—and certainly, it’s a definite possibility that current budget restrictions are keeping you from reaching your full ecommerce potential. However, it’s important to remember that Google’s entire business model only works (and it works very well), because it delivers the most relevant content to its users.
So what does that mean for businesses and advertisers?
It means that a solid Paid Search strategy is infinitely more important than a grossly large Paid Search budget. If your advertisers are skilled enough analytically, knowledgeable enough about the tools available to them, and equipped with enough data, then your marketing efforts can thrive on the internet.
Simply put, you need to have a plan in order to spend your money as wisely as possible.
The additional real estate that all of Google’s various Paid Search offerings afford is definitely a tremendous help, but it’s more important to make sure that your marketing is reaching the right audience. If your Paid Search efforts aren’t performing for you with conversions (either direct or assisted), then all the click-through rates in the world won’t matter. Making sure that you’ve got talented professionals helming your ecommerce strategy – especially now that everyone will be marketing even more competitively in Paid Search – is paramount.
From an SEO’s perspective, the results of this research are disappointing. Not just because of Google’s increasingly pay-for-play results page, but because I am concerned the article does too much to scare clients into a gung-ho, PPC-only marketing strategy.
Those who wish to move their internet marketing efforts from organic search to paid simply to “game” the system are simply shifting from one tunnel-vision approach to another.
I think what we’re failing to recognize is that with so little real estate left for organic results, great SEO is more important than ever.
As Jonathan argues above, great SEO, like great PPC, begins with a strong foundation in strategy and analytics. It’s nearly impossible now to “game” the system in SEO, and the only strategies that can truly drive results are those rooted in methodology and best practice.
As the article alludes to, the heavy amount of clicks accounted for by paid search is due largely in part to the ever increasing amount of ads that you see within search results for these commercial based keywords. That’s a very simple concept, but an important one.
The more real estate you can occupy on a search results page (resulting from a relevant search query), the more likely a user will end up on your site. These results can come from organic or paid search.
PPC and SEO strategies should work in tandem – learning from each other, supplementing each other, complimenting each other.
Interested in ramping up your online strategy? Check out the full suite of MICROS eCommerce interactive marketing tools, send us an email, or give us a call +1 301.841.4700(US) | +44 (0)20 3004 9468(UK).