I’ve been in a lot of meetings lately where there’s been a little confusion regarding the use of several terms centered around gaining traffic through search engines. We always talk about SEM (Search Engine Marketing) as a combination of paid search, also known as PPC and organic search, known as SEO.
Internet and online media veterans have all noticed this interesting thing that people in our industry do. We like to rename things to make them seem like something different. A few examples are two of today’s really important monetization tactics, Programmatic Advertising and Lead Generation. Both of these are rebranded (I guess that’s a good way to describe them) versions of things that we used to cringe at if someone brought them up. Programmatic Advertising is little more than computerized/automated Remnant Advertising, which is just ad inventory that the salesmen didn’t sell. Lead Generation is the formerly dreaded Cost per Action type of promotion. Somehow these terms make these things more palatable.
But i digress. Whenever we look at a search engine strategy we are always looking at the combination of paid search traffic as well as organic search traffic. We want to make sure that we are driving as much traffic as makes economic sense. From a tactical perspective we start with 2 groups of terms – the ones we currently rank for and the ones that we don’t rank for. Both sets of terms have to make sense for what our clients are today and where they want to be. This is relatively easy to think through. If we rank well for a set of terms, we work to optimize and increase our ranking on those terms as well as expand the universe of terms that we rank for organically. The set of terms that we want to rank for we optimize for so that we do rank organicially, but in the short term we will start a PPC campaign to drive traffic, awareness and business around those terms. Over time, we want organic (i.e. free) traffic to reduce our reliance on paid traffic.
Yesterday, a piece was published on SearchEngineLand that talks to the need to think about PPC while you are thinking about Organic optimization. In this piece about Content Quality, there’s a chart illustrating a new study around the click-thru-rate for each of the organic search positions on a SERP. This chart, from research by WordStream indicates that the click thru rate for higher positions (1 thru 3) have been increasing while click thru rates for the lower positions on the page are declining (less so than the increases on the higher positions).
If you have achieved really good organic search rankings and are getting fairly low click thru rates (in comparison to the chart on the SearchEngineLand page), if economically feasible, you likely need to add in some paid traffic (PPC) for those terms, because someone, likely your competition, is taking away the traffic that you have worked hard for. Only last week I did a post about this very subject “Enhance Organic Search With Paid Search” and this information really solidified our view on this tactic.