Thursday, July 07, 2005

Organic Results or Sponsored Links?

Before getting into the advantages or disadvantages of organic and sponsored search results, it is important to understand what is organic and what is not. Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is modifying or constructing the web pages within a website specifically to improve the ranking or visibility of a company's website in search engine results. The reason the term "organic" is used is because rather than using sponsored, or Pay Per Click (PPC) links to rise above the other search engine results, the pages are modified or "grown" to achieve higher spots. Pay Per Click, or PPC, is buying a "click-through" from another website to your website. Pay Per Click advertisements are usually text ads based upon a keyword. When someone searches for a particular term then clicks on the advertisement using that term, the advertiser is charged for a "click".

Long Term or Short Term?

When you first launch a website, Google requires a short time to determine the credibility of your website. Some of the factors include where you host, how long the domain has been registered and how many sites link to your website. So after submitting your website to Google, it may take several weeks before it will show up in Google’s search results. Yahoo! requires that you submit your website via Yahoo! Express which takes a minimum of seven days to list your website. Google Directory or the Open Directory Project ( can take weeks or even months before your website is listed. While time consuming, creating organic search results is something that will affect your website for years to come. So while organic SEO is “slower” to market than PPC, but serves as the better long-term solution.

You can begin a Pay Per Click campaign by visiting the Yahoo! Advertiser Center (formerly Overture) or Google AdWords, creating an account and bidding on the keywords for the search engine queries that you wish your advertisements to be displayed on. With Yahoo! Advertiser Center, your ads show up in three to five days. With Google AdWords there is no waiting. Ads show up almost immediately after you create them and set your “click through” bids. This can get visitors to your website the same day that you launch it, or make it “live”. However once your daily budget runs out your website no longer will show up in search results. Pay Per Click is quicker to market but most definitely a short-term solution to be monitored daily.

Expense or Investment?

Pay Per Click budgets can be great or small depending on the competitiveness or popularity of the keywords or phrases that you select. The phrase “Search Engine Optimization” currently costs $4.23 per click. In May 2005, 159916 searches were performed on the Yahoo! Pay Per Click network. At a cost of $4.23 per click, the expense for just one term could be $676444.68. This is at the current rate, and that rate can increase at any time. Balance this with the fact that research has shown that the majority of search engine users prefer to click on the first three “organic” results before they explore PPC listings.

Organic SEO requires that the pages within your website are optimized based on keywords. The SEO professional modifies the HTML to have certain properties that search engine determine to be relevant in their ranking methodologies. Before you can optimize a website for keywords, you must determine the most effective keywords. To do so, your SEO professional may use customer surveys, popularity of search engine keywords, keyword terms used in competitor’s websites or the text used to explain a company’s products or services. If an existing website is to be optimized, it may require some modification of textual content, Meta Tags, navigational structure or other HTML code properties. For budgetary reasons, organic search engine optimization is most cost-effective during the reconstruction or redesign of a website.

Investing in organic search engine optimization is always a good idea and the sooner you start, the better. Optimizing a website for search engines is something that does not have a daily cost. Normally the investment is upfront – to determine the keywords needed and the process to insert them into your website. If the website is already listed in search engines but not listed favorably, organic search engine optimization can take less than 48 hours to begin to take effect. If the website is brand new, plan on a study of your keywords and budgeting for Pay Per Click expenses until your website can be found on organic search engine results.

Organic search engine optimization is a necessary part of any website’s budget and is a long-term investment in the future of your business much like having a sign in front of your physical location. Pay Per Click is like the budget line item expense for renewing your listing in the in the phone book every year. If enough people drive buy and see your sign they will remember you and not have to look up your name every time they are looking for your product or service.

No comments: