Paid Search VS Organic Search and Social Media
I’ve run quite a few paid search campaigns, and although I do get pretty darn good results, in general it’s disappointing in the long run. Why? Because no matter how much traffic you pay for, once you turn off the ads that traffic disappears. ((poof)). Sure, paid search is good for product launches and especially new website launche, but the traffic you build through paid search loses it’s value once your pockets are empty.
If what you are looking for is sticky traffic–traffic that not only gives something back to you but helps spread the word about your brilliance–you should look at how to boost your organic search traffic.
Organic refers to a search that returns results based on content and keyword relevancy gained through indexing the site the content is on. This is in contrast to listings ranked based on who paid the most money to appear at the top of the page or in the paid ads offered up on many web sites and search engines. Sometimes this kind of search is is called “natural search” as it’s supposed to be “untainted” by payment for placement.
Metrics site Compete.com offers comparative data on a sites’s metrics, so you can see if their traffic is coming from paid or organic search. Take a look at some of the sites you are interested in competing against and see where they are putting their energy. If it’s in paid search you may have an opportunity to grab those users first with organic search.
Marketing Sherpa’s Search Marketing Benchmark study of over 3 thousand marketers reported organic clicks converted at an average of 4.2% versus 3.6% for paid search. They also report that in the B2B market less than 25% of buyers turn to paid search ads on their first click. In a random and thoroughly unscientific survey of my clients and friends I found that most hunt through the organic results for some time before turning to the paid links to find what they need.
This does depend on the market you’re selling to. Studies have shown that both age and education affect click-through rates. If you are marketing to high school or college freshmen CPC works better than with the older or more educated user.
So what does this all have to do with social media?
Good question, and it’s one of my favorite topics. Sites that use social media elements and companies who use social media as part of their marketing campaigns have a huge impact on organic search results. Adding ways for your users to spread the word about your content and every site, blog, Twitter or FaceBook link to you enters the stream with keywords attached. This makes it much easier for the search engines to gauge the relevancy of your content and increases your backlinks, and so you get better organic search results.
Blogs in particular get indexed quickly by the search engines because all the content is typically tagged with keywords that relate to the topic, making it easy for search engines to parse out the good stuff.
Optimize with Social Media
Even if your site isn’t a blog there’s a lot you can do to get optimized and get that social media advantage working for you. You may not want to do all of them, but look to see which is the best fit for you.
- Add links to bookmarking sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Ma.gnolia to build traffic and let users share the link love.
- Add a ShareThis button to your site and users can email the link to friends or add it to a range of bookmarking and social network sites.
- Optimize your title and description tags for search
- Consider creating a Twitter or other micro-blog account to create a relationship with your users
- Consider sharing videos or podcasts on your site through social media sites like Vimeo, Seesmic and YouTube.
- Spend some time thinking about a social media plan that fits within your needs