When we began The Info Group, in the fall of 1997, search engine optimization was not a term that had been coined instead the few people involved in the field were calling it search engine ranking and pay-per-click was literally a baby as GoTo had just launched and the only buzz I recall was that no one would pay for a click they received from a search engine. So the only real game in town was search ranking and with algorithms the way they were at the time, getting top rankings was almost a cinch so why would a firm like ours push an unproven product? We didn’t but that philosophy lasted about 90 days until we tried pay-per-click ourselves and found it to be a very cost effective supplement to regular rankings. We were getting clicks from an engine that our competitors weren’t listed on (they hadn’t figured it out yet) and the cost was a nit since you could bid pennies for terms. Now the appeal wasn’t overwhelming since the listings were limited to GoTo (they hadn’t formed any partnerships with other engines) and since GoTo was not the big daddy (Yahoo was the gorilla of the day) not too many people were using the engine. Yet it provided another lead source that generated some business but more importantly it set into motion what became our core philosophy of utilizing both aspects of search marketing, paid and organic.
Let me try paint a simple picture to illustrate the point in today’s search world. Say you have a brand new site, unfortunately you are coming out of the gate at a disadvantage in organic search in both Google & Yahoo as they have aging filters in place and getting great rankings on competitive terms in the short term is next to impossible. Well, then the obvious way to boost your site to the top or front page of Google & Yahoo is to take advantage of pay-per-click. I posted on the benefits of pay-per-click earlier.
So immediately you get a presence on the top two engines, great now what? You carefully analyze your traffic and conversions and begin to identify what keywords are working for you in ppc. Often times you can find less competitive terms with very high conversion rates that with tweaking of ads and/or landing pages you can increase your conversion rate even more and suddenly you’re not so dependent on your top level keywords within ppc to generate results. Taking that analysis you also address those words on your site as these are the types of terms that will pick up in Google & Yahoo much quicker than your top level terms and once again you have a better chance at generating results. Using a simple strategy like this can make a dramatic difference in an overall campaign, not only financially from a spend point but also from a bottom line profit increasing point.
Effective use of search engine marketing is what you should be looking for not just #1 rankings.