SMBs Discover Virtues of Natural Search
While marketing budgets have been cut, paid search and traditional media have taken the brunt of it. At the same time, SMBs have learned that natural search can return big benefits that are long-lasting.
Since the recession, SMBs have been trying to figure out the best way to optimize their websites for organic listings due to SEO’s lower cost over time and higher ROI. What many have asked is, “what is the most effective way to get traffic leads and sales.” Everyone out there has come to the realization that SEO is now #1, and email marketing is a close second.
Besides the need to be efficient with marketing dollars, marketers are casting aside old assumptions that SEO is complex and unaccountable. Just the opposite is true on accountability. On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to get started with a PPC account for instant visibility, but many marketers find it gets expensive for popular keywords.
Another factor driving the switch to SEO is the explosion of social media, which can help boost your rankings. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs are all good ways to create content and dialogue, all of which is integrated into natural search. Marketers are realizing their websites need to work in tandem with social dialogues.
Paid search: PPC spending in Q2 this year, across all search engines in the U.S., was down 21 percent compared to the same period last year (Efficient Frontier). The Q1 year-over-year decline was 23 percent.
On Google alone, PPC spending was off by 8.2 percent worldwide in Q2 compared to Q1 this year (Covario). This was the second straight quarter that Google saw global decreases. Yahoo!’s PPC spending was down 30 percent quarter to quarter, while Bing edged slightly upward from its small market share due to its aggressive $80M marketing campaign in June.
SEO: On the other hand, SEO appears to be robust. eMarketer report, “Search Marketing Trends” released in February said 55 percent of marketers will increase spending on SEO this year, which is more than any other advertising channel. SEO expenditures were forecast to total $3.9 billion by 2014.
SEO gets the most clicks, and its share of clicks is increasing. In 2005-2006, 87 percent of all clicks were on organic links, now it’s up to 91 percent! All marketers are scratching their heads and wondering why they haven’t concentrated more on SEO. Maybe the preference for SEO links is because people know they aren’t ads. Additionally, SEO links have more credibility because they are ranked by search engines to provide best results, and people trust these results more than banners and sponsored links.
Cost of SEO: SEO isn’t free, and skilled consultants can charge big fees. Another problem is the difficulty of getting changes implemented because of poor cooperation between marketing and IT. SEO is a massively time-consuming process and requires a lot of insider knowledge. SEO automation tools are beginning to show up; keep posted for our reviews.