A good place to start with when evaluating search engine marketing (Yes, it’s SEM) is Google. Why? Because it owns 65% of the Internet audience, and 85% of all Internet users search the web before they buy something.
Google offers two basic ways to get your site noticed: organic search results and paid listings. For example when you search Google for “waikiki hotels” you get a listing of sites that Google’s secret algorythm has deemed the most relevant suggestions. You also get, on the right column of the search engine results page (SERP), and also at the top and bottom, a list of paid advertisers in the order of their willingness to bid highest for your click. The organic process can be influenced by a host of website tweaks collectively called search engine optimization (SEO); while bidding your way up the paid listing side is called pay-per-click (PPC).
The relative values of the organic lising vs the paid listing are pretty much established as about 5 to 1. In other words the ideal spot to find yourself is the number one listing on the organic search. Over 75% of people conducting a search will click on the number one organic listing. Most people trust the Google search process’s validity, and consequently discount the paid listings accordingly. That doesn’t make PPC a bad investment, but it certainly puts an emphasis on working your way up the natural listing. Being number one is ideal, being in the top five (top-of-the-fold) excellent, first page very good, and so it goes.
Getting a top organic listing requires substantial commitment and professional techniques and won’t happen overnight. Experts like ThinkBigSites.com in New York are worth the money, if you want big league results. Paid listings, while less efficient in terms of cost per click, can happen fast. You spend the money and you get immediate traffic. A combination of the two works well together especially at the beginning of a concerted SEM effort, where the paid listing can work while the SEO effort builds. Both are ongoing commitments that must be maintained, evaluated and adjusted over time…they’re not one-time efforts.
It goes without saying that building web traffic is only worth paying for if your site produces convertions, leads or sales that translate to new business. If your site is broken, or business operations faulty, adding more visitors will simply make the problem worse, waste your money and even damage your brand. R Strategic can help you evaluate your overall Internet marketing program and help identify weak links.
There is no question, however, that getting your site found can make the difference between a successful online business strategy or banishment to Internet limbo.