Search – As popular as ever, but why?
The message is still loud
and clear for search marketers; free search is still one of the most important
variables in getting the most from the search environment: but why? In the current
climate of paid for search, why is the free search variable still mentioned? This
article investigates whether or not the old ways are still the best.
Just for the record let’s
clear up what is meant by organic search. Commonly referred to as organic, free
and natural search, this is the process of optimising the content of a website
to gain better listings in engines like Google. Elements such as meta tags, meta
descriptions and link popularity are all involved in the process used to ensure
that content is carefully manipulated to ensure rankings. The better these items
(plus a myriad of other additional elements) are structured and the better the
content held within, the higher the index of the site when a relevant topic is
The most obvious answer
to why organic search is still as popular as ever is that in most people’s eyes
it doesn’t have a cost per click associated with it. For any decision maker recognising,
for the first time in many cases, the value of search, this appears to be the
perfect option, making the site as visible as possible for little or no costs.
The realism is, however,
more complicated than it may seem. For every benefit of having a zero cost per
click, the process that needs to be taken to achieve results is comprehensive,
and in many cases expensive. HTML is still the chosen language of search engines
spiders, however, the least likely language for designers to develop websites,
and thus generates a natural conflict, one that is an expensive one to overcome.
Site Side Optimization (SSO) is a process that is a skill that many don’t have.
Trusting the department of web designers to do the job can’t achieve the desired
objectives - the skills required are held in the hands of individuals that warrant
Search engines have always
been susceptible to manipulation and fraud by those with less than moral objectives.
Known as search engine spamming the procedures of maximising a website’s potential
can be done by using techniques that search engines don’t like. For this reason
the engines took two particular routes for ensuring that content was of a high
quality and relevant for their users. The first is making sites pay for clicks.
As ROI becomes more prominent it is a good assumption to make that a site won’t
pay for traffic that won’t convert on the destination site. This model has become
one of the most dominant within the space in the past two years. The second method
used by engines is to change the variables they use to rank a website, to move
the goal posts every now and again, to ensure those utilising unsuitable procedures
are constantly having to change. Unfortunately this also means that those optimising
a site legitimately, also have to continue to maintain and update the code.
The last variable to consider
for optimising a site is that unless Google is the only engine you want your site
to be listed in you’ll have to pay for the clicks. When Yahoo dropped Google listings
for their own, the distribution for organic search was reduced by up to 40% and
the replacement option: a submission fee and an ongoing cost per click model.
Adding all of these variables
together and the prospect of organic search seems less attractive as it may have
originally seemed. Outsourcing the process of optimising content, having it maintained
constantly and the likelihood of having to pay a cost per click anyway and the
question must be… “Is organic search optmisation the right way to go?”
The answer to this is definitely
up to the individual company, and the responsibility of the consultancy firm that
they are dealing with, to illustrate if and how organic search forms the basis
of an overall search engine portfolio. The fact that in many instances paid for
placement offers complete control of creative, flexibility of campaign length,
guaranteed position, depending upon how much you’ll bid, and the best placements
in all of the major portals, questions must be raised as to what should be done
to make the most of search.
In most cases the lure of
zero costs per click can seem like hitting search for six, however, the costs
associated with it divided by the cost per click for paid placement, could result
in a lengthy period of time in top positions.
Organic search is still
valid, but should not be used as a fall back or desperate measure to satisfy internal
pressure to win with search, or to offset the cost associated with a click model.
About the Author
James Colborn is an Account
Director for Inceptor Inc. and operates from their US based headquarters in Boston.
James is the former eMarketing lecturer at South Bank University and also writes
for Payperclickanalyst.com - an online magazine
for search engine marketing and pay per click search engines. You can contact
James by emailing him at anytime at: email@example.com