No way to deny it, picking the best strategy for search marketing can be a real headache.
On the one hand, there is an avenue onto virtually every search engine and search site on the Internet with pay-per-click (PPC). Between Overture PrecisionMatch and Google AdWords (and the networks each supports), you can reach nearly 90% of all those who conduct a search. Add in the next layer of PPC engines like FindWhat, Kanoodle, and vertical PPCs like Business.com, and soon pretty soon you’ve cast an pretty decent net. PPC can be attractive too since it lets you choose thousands of keywords (if that’s what you’d like) and you can put your site in whatever position you like (or can afford).
There’s a lot to like about PPC.
There’s also a steady output of cash to the engine to keep your ads up. Every market is seeing the cost per click prices rise across the board. Competition is getting more intense every day as more and more advertisers jump in. The engines are doing a great job of getting PPC into the mainstream so even more advertisers will be clamoring for the number one spot until they learn better. Margins are getting tighter and tighter.
And just like that, PPC doesn’t look like so much fun.
Then there’s natural optimization. Your site appearing in the natural results. Traffic coming in at no charge. Establishing yourself as a brand to be recognized and trusted. Establishing your status as an expert on topics, not just terms. As many as 80% of searchers clicking your natural listing. Seeing long term stability without having to worry about someone moving you from first to worst with some automated bidding and deep pockets (or even fraud schemes).
Not to say natural hasn’t got it’s own hurdles. It takes time. It often takes a significant upfront investment, both financially and in terms of man hours. Engines are fickle, and they constantly play games with the elusive algorithms taking you on a bit of a roller coaster ride with no rhyme or reason.
Maybe you’ve just got to try and figure out what search marketing’s all about. Is it branding? Is it direct marketing? Is it advertising? Is it customer service?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Search marketing is about building identity. You can introduce yourself, you can advertise your goods/services, you can build your brand, and you can reinforce trust with your customers through search marketing.
Don’t approach these as one or the other solutions. Integrate them both, create synergy (I had to borrow that one, I promise). Really though, the best campaign is going to take advantage of a balanced campaign. Track everything, measure all of it and zero in on your targets.