Business development 29 July 2015

Organic search versus paid search: From competitors to collaborators

Teaming up paid search and organic search can be used to great effect
Teaming up paid search and organic search can be used to great effect

Organic and paid search are the new power couple. Both effective in their own right ? each with their own advantages and drawbacks, yet working together they create?a formidable SEO partnership. Being present on search engines is a major engagement for etailers, considering that 89 per cent of searches carried out in the UK are done so via Google, visibility is vital.

Organic search consists of being “naturally” selected by search engines to appear in their rankings, paid search guarantees a presence via sponsored links (AdWords etc.). Two universes that have, historically, been considered as separate and even opposing. Organic search is a long game; when taking into account all the actions that SEO experts carry out, the results are often slow?to appear. The investment made (be it time involved in optimising a site?or?the cost of paying an SEO expert), won?t show itself immediately, it will take a couple of months to appear on the first page of search results. SEA campaigns, however, create an instant traffic, a “bought” traffic that is paid for every time an advert is clicked on.

Often etailers launch their site on an organic search basis and once they?ve reached a certain level of visitors (a few thousand visitors a month), the need to be present across multiple acquisition channels becomes apparent. Analysis of Actinic sites shows that the synergy of both organic and paid search benefits etailers on many levels.

The Double Visibility Effect ? occupy as much of the first page as possible

Being present on the first page of Google for both organic and paid search dramatically increases the traffic gained through keywords searches. The reasoning is simple; the bigger the percentage of the first page you occupy, the more traffic you?ll receive. To simplify, when a search query is entered and the searcher is presented with around 20 results (ten paid and ten?organic), with only one link available you are in competition with 19 other links. By guaranteeing a double presence on the first page of results, you take up double the space and gain more traffic too.

Search in multiple phases: the memory effect ? visit and revisit

A significant number of consumers will find you the first time round through paid adverts and will then “naturally” return to your site having now registered your site name. This phenomenon can be analysed using the advanced segments of Google Analytics. SEO experts like ourselves analyse how internet users who arrive on sites through AdWords campaigns then return by searching a domain name or brand name. We have studied sites that ran AdWords campaigns for more than six?months and found that that the number of domain and brand name searches increased by five to ten per cent?during this time.

This phenomenon is even more striking when there is multichannel visibility (AdWords, Google Shopping, and ads on the Display network). It?s a logical outcome, as more visibility means that internet users will see your brand or domain name more often, and it is then more likely to stick in their minds, increasing the chances of them becoming?frequent visitors.

From search to site visit: the influence of site quality ? Google goes gaga for quality

To provide user satisfaction (a vital point for keeping Google happy, whether it is for organic or paid search), you need to make sure your landing pages are up to scratch. In other words, make sure your site has good quality content and provides what searchers are looking for. AdWords is no exception to the rule, to get good results from campaigns, most of the time improvements need to be made on the site?s landing pages. By doing this, the quality score Google gives a site will also improve and this quality score directly influences the level of bids (a good quality score means paying less per click without losing your ranking). Another benefit of improving a site?s content quality, is that you?re optimising the site for organic SEO at the same time. Two birds with one stone.

It?s advisable to seek assistance from an SEM expert to get the best results and ROI from your campaigns. They can also help you develop a presence beyond Google ??Facebook, for example, has become an important SEO player.

If?organic SEO gives you long term visibility, then paid SEO gives instant, powerful results which you can easily measure. These two traffic acquisition channels work in perfect harmony, growing your visibility and reputation whilst pushing your site to reach its maximum potential. A true land of opportunity for all developing etailers and businesses expanding their online presence.

Image: Shutterstock

Marc Schillaci is CEO and founder of Actinic, part of the Oxatis Group.

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