Why Search Engine Optimization is Six Times More Important than Paid Search

A friend alerted me to a great article at searchenginewatch.com. The article explains how humans view search results (there is a natural “F” pattern, starting at the top of a page, going down along the left side scanning for keywords, and then going to the right when something catches the eye.) It also reinforces Jupiter Research last December that claims that 6 out of 7 commercial search engine referrals come from natural search engine rankings, and only 1 out of 7 come from paid clicks. So why are so many search engine marketers and agencies only focusing on paid search? Because it is easy and instantaneous. Search engine optimization requires a great deal of technical skill, time, effort, energy, and outreach.

Two of our portfolio companies are involved in solving this problem for businesses. 10x Marketing provides fully outsourced search engine optimization services at very reasonable prices. And WebEvident provides its Searchability(TM) technology and online guidance system to help small businesses can gain visibility in natural search results. Visit Search Doctor (one of WebEvident’s partners) for a free report on how “optimized” your web site is for the keywords that matter most to your business.

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  1. Bona Sijabat

    “Search engine optimization requires a great deal of technical skill, time, effort, energy, and outreach.” I’d agree with that.

    In fact, I’d suggest that it takes more effort than it’s worth. All over the world websites are fighting for a few spaces at the top of the natural SERPs.

    The problem is a conflict of interests. SEs want to deliver *relevant* pages to user searches. You want to deliver *your* commercial pages. So as you try to beat the system and move up the rankings, SEs will continue to adjust, tweak, and change their algoriths. SEs are focused on delivering good results to searchers, otherwise they lose all their revenue from PPC.

    More often than not, good content, and SEO pages are mutually exclusive.

    Remember the Florida update? Many website owners lost their incomes overnight when their SE results dropped off the top SERPs. High ranking SE results are not a competitive advantage or a defensible asset when they can be taken away from you in a second. At the most optimistic, they are costlier over the long-run, because to stay at the top of results you never move down the learning curve. Learning costs remain high because SEs will continue to change their ranking algorithms to produce “high-quality” results.

    SEO is a neverending battle. PPC is easy, more controllable, and therefore more desriable as a marketing instrument in the long run.

    Of course, this is all proportionate to the profit margin inherent in the particular industry. In some instances it may indeed be worth the investment.

    To be sure, it’s probably better to partner with a top-ranking website that is getting all the eyeballs. And by partnering, I mean more than just adsense/ppc on the partner’s site.

  2. Matthew Reinbold

    I think you’re dead on with where internet optimization dollars need to be going. Making a web business search engine friendly also has the nice side effect of (usually) improving site usability and decreasing page size.

    I was interested in the Search Doctor’s services. However, the form for the free site optimization report continuously generated errors upon submission. I hoped to help and went to fill out the contact form. Upon submitting THAT form all I got was a 404 not found page: http://www.searchdoctor.net/newsite/error.html

    All the traffic you’re throwing their way must have swamped their servers. 😉

  3. Jason Carr

    I think that your argument against SEO actually contains the solution to the problems that caused it. Good SEO isn’t about beating the system, it’s about pleasing the system.

    This mind set: “More often than not, good content, and SEO pages are mutually exclusive,” is what cost webmasters their rankings in the Florida update.

    If your site provides good content, you are well on your way to good rankings already (and longer lasting rankings because it will be in the best interests of the SE’s to try to keep your site around). Add to that a well coded (valid) website, logical internal navigation, a sprinkling of the right keywords, and some solid backlinks and you’ve got a recipe for success. More of this philosophy at http://www.searchengineworld.com/misc/guide.htm

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