They say history repeats itself, what’s old is new again, there are no new ideas, and so forth. Consistent with that idea, it seems to me that search engine optimization (SEO) is kind-of like Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). It’s based on market research and typically involves employing a variety of tactics to reach out to your target audience and maximize communication in the most cost-effective way possible.
Considering that IMC has become the favored approach in the marketing business today, it only makes sense that companies would begin to favor SEO over paid search listings. That’s exactly what they’re doing, according to a Brafton report, and new evidence suggests it’s a wise idea. Hitwise analyzed Internet searches over a 4-week period ending May 9 and found that paid search traffic comprised only about 7 percent of all search traffic — a 26 percent drop from the share paid listings accounted for a year earlier.
Hitwise analyst Heather Hopkins indicated that the use of search engines isn’t dropping, however. Instead, organic traffic is increasing and more people are visiting sites for companies that use SEO.
The report is encouraging, I think. From what I’ve read and learned, SEO seems to be the best way to reach out to customers on the Web via search listings. Paid placement is not only costly, but questionable. In some cases, customers are interested in the information whether it’s paid for or not, but there’s no guarantee that a top listing will generate results. Paid inclusion is more dcost-effective, but it’s also difficult to distinguish and there’s no way to tell where the listing will be displayed. Because it’s based on solid research, SEO makes the most sense because it provides a scientific basis for the tactic that’s employed and examines what will work (or won’t) for the audience in question.