Over 100 billion searches are performed on Google every month. With statistics like this, one thing has become clear to marketers across the globe: Search Marketing is no longer optional, it’s vital.
Search Marketing is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines. This can be done through paid advertising, organic search engine optimisation, or a combination of both. While hosted on the same platform (search engines), there are distinct differences between these channels. Here are a few things to consider when you’re allocating your next Search Marketing budget.
The cost of the channel is arguably the most important consideration when it comes to deciding how to allocate Search Marketing spend. AdWords can be costly, as the advertiser has to pay Google every time someone clicks on one of their ads. While AdWords gives advertisers the ability to set maximum daily budgets, manage spend on keywords, measure returns and adjusting spending accordingly, the costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re looking for good results. SEO on the other hand is free – as long as your website is well optimised! What many marketers don’t realise, is that the costs of establishing and maintaining a high ranking website can be significant.
With SEO, once you are ranking well for a certain keyword, it can be difficult for others to overtake you in the search results, as long as you continue to monitor competitors and continually apply your tried and tested SEO processes. The difficulty with SEO can be getting into these high-ranking positions, especially in highly competitive markets.
AdWords on the other hand is all about spend, so it can be relatively easy to take the leading spot, simply by bidding more than your competitors.
SEO can be a long process. Effectively optimising a website takes time, and it can take several months (or even longer) to see an increase in website traffic with this channel. Furthermore, if you do put in a bit of work into SEO and start to see results, a simple change to Google’s algorithm can wipe out your organic traffic, and re-designing your site in accordance with a new algorithm can be like starting all over. That being said, with SEO your return on investment is likely to continue to grow into the future.
AdWords is more immediate. At its simplest, AdWords is relatively uncomplicated, so after a bit of research your campaign can go live within a few hours. Results are also immediate, and you may see sales coming through as soon as your ads are running. The more time consuming task is in refining the campaign; managing spending on keywords, measuring returns and adjusting spending can become a full time, laborious job. It’s important to bear in mind that with Adwords there are no long-term benefits. As soon as you stop purchasing ads, traffic also stops.
Well-documented research claims that 86% of people trust organic listings as opposed to advertised listings [Unbounce, 2012]. This indicates that only 1 in 10 people who use search engines will actually click on a paid link. Google highlights ad slots differently, as such many people avoid these sites because they assume them to be marketed sites and instead filter past them to the organic listings. With 9 out of 10 search engine users favouring organic links, it seems SEO is well worth the effort.
When it comes to search marketing, different tactics will work for different companies. It’s important to consider your business’ specific budgets, goals and resources in order to define a Search Marketing strategy that works for you.