More than 90 percent of the online population uses a search engine to find products, services, and information. Once a search engine visitor types a query into the search box and receives results, marketing studies show that:
– Natural search receives 250 percent more traffic than paid search.
– Natural search converts 30 percent higher than pay-per-click (PPC) paid search.
– The first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) gets at least 80 percent of the clicks.
– The second page of SERPs gets about 10 percent of the clicks.
The definition of search engine marketing includes efforts that may incorporate improving organic search listings, running pay-per-click ads, and getting listed in vertical search placements.
Organic, or natural, search results are a trusted source due to their lack of connection to paid sponsorship. Organic search findings are based exclusively on indexed results. Websites can maintain maximum visibility by employing search engine optimization best practices. Keeping a website optimized for natural search is an ongoing effort, as algorithmic patterns change all the time. The only constant with search results is change. Results are now often personalized to each searcher (based on prior individual behavior).
Pay per click allows companies to buy placement for search engine terms on sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Organizations can set up daily budgets to determine how much they will pay to have their ad place higher in (or alongside) the search engine results. Organizations compete for the top keywords in their categories by bidding higher cost-per-click prices on the keywords that are most likely to have a high click-through rate.
Vertical search is the most recent addition to search engine marketing.
Vertical search is a streamlined solution that helps web surfers find what they need via a smaller search-topic universe. Websites can receive exposure on a free or paid basis, depending on the engine. Some examples of vertical search include local search engines like Yahoo! Local; Google Maps; industry-specific sites; and job search engines.
A way to remember the difference between paid and organic search (and a simple way to explain it to a superior or colleague) is that organic search is the way that your site is found. Paid search is the way you would like your site to be found.
SEM is a critical medium for brand awareness and customer acquisition.
Organic search, PPC, and vertical search can all be engaged and optimized to remain competitive in the search marketplace. As with any promotional tool, getting in front of your target customer is desired, so companies need to be on top of search engine trends to stay competitive and visible.