Go Organic, Get Conversions!

One of the current issues of online marketing is whether organic search engine optimization results in higher conversion rates than sponsored searches and pay per clicks. Based on years of experience and analysis of organic optimization our conclusion is “yes” the conversion rate for organic sites is higher. And most of the SEO experts agree. According to Christine Churchill of Denny Sullivan’s May Newsletter, relevancy, organic optimization and niche marketing are essential keys to your online marketing success.

Recently, we’ve been asked by some of our clients to show some real numbers of how many people use organic search optimization verses PPC. To pacify these inquiries, we discovered some interesting statistics on PPC campaigns from an informative Search Engine Strategies conference presented by Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer, and Bill Tancer, General Manager, Global Research for Hitwise.

Ramsey identified two fundamental reasons why search marketing works. First, search engine marketing delivers the specific and relevant information consumers are looking for – as fast as they need it. Second, search engine marketing delivers quantifiable results and a positive ROI when done right . . . organically!

Using data from the December 2005 SEMPO study, Ramsey identified that the number one reason (62%) that people use SE advertising was to increase brand awareness. The second reason (60%) was to sell brand awareness. This interesting data reveals that search engine advertising is used as both a direct response and branding tool.
The December 2005 SEMPO/Intellisurvey report, which identified and compared search marketing tactics and where search dollars are spent today, found that 83% of online dollars are spent on paid placements and 11.2% is spent on organic search. In contrast, the findings from the iProspect study reveal that 61% of internet searches believe natural listings are more relevant.

In line with Milestone’s philosophy, a 2004 Enquiro study found that B2B users had a 63% preference for organic listings. To drive this point home, the 2005 Marketing Sherpa report stated, “organic SEO gets a higher conversion rate than does sponsored search.” Based on these stats, we suggest that advertisers should spend more time, effort and investment on improving their natural search results rather than forking over the big bucks for PPCs.

Based on Ramsey’s vision of future online search trends, it is also our prediction that behavioral and contextual marketing will elevate targeting to a higher level – to video and mobile search. So pay particular attention to vertical and local search.

According to a 2005 Kelsey Group report, “55% of internet users use search engines to find information about local firms. The estimated spending on local search was only $162 million. In 2009, it’s estimated to be $3,380 million.” Since nearly 70% of small businesses don’t have websites, they can’t currently do paid online advertising. Therefore, local search will need some development before it can really take off. Ramsey foresees that the advancement of Pay-per-Call and the creation of richer information, such as maps and satellite pictures, as key factors for local search because they will help people better evaluate businesses.

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