Organic Search Optimization vs. Paid Inclusion

Paid Search Marketing Jul 4, 2006

I’m sure many of you are compelled into paid inclusion keyword campaigns, with the underlying notion that free natural listings would be better, but for various reasons the SEO effort must be deferred until later. PPC provides a more immediate, and in some ways, more controlled route to successful online marketing.

But its often more difficult to get excited about paid search, because it involves a transient advertising campaign, while natural search improves a core asset of your business–your website.

Some companies fail to get started on their natural search result campaign right away due to the feeling of how competitive it feels. “Breaking into” the top-10 positions on your chosen keywords feels nigh impossible.

But using HitTailing, you can get started with baby-steps, seeing yourself enter the top-10 positions on less competitive keyword combinations in less than a month using nothing more than free Blogging software. At Connors, we decided to have at least one example of this in the first month of the beta program for HitTail. As of this morning, we are in the first page of results for “best pr firm in nyc” in all three main engines: Google, MSN, and as of today, Yahoo.

Total cost: $0.00
Duration of campaign: forever
Time spent: ~5 minutes on 1 paragraph of text

Another factor that worries folks getting started with natural search is not knowing where to focus their efforts. The list of “possible” keywords to target is impossibly large, so how to you know where to concentrate in order to assure ROI? Do you target the higher volume popular keywords or the easier-to-conquer obscure words?

HitTail – the long tail keyword tool – helps answer this question as well. It’s always better to get some instant successes under your belt for their value in practice and learning. So, choose some of the keyword suggestions that HitTail provides under the suggestions tab. Due to the HitTail algorithms, these keyword phrases are known to be where some of your fastest gains in natural search are assured to be made. They also tend to be more obscure word combinations. But don’t let that worry you. With a half dozen “obscure” word combos under your belt, the difficult uphill battle into the coveted land of common keywords has at least begun. It will take some time to win that battle, but you will now have it in perspective as a winnable battle.

Some folks may be worried that their site isn’t ready to make use of the traffic that natural search may suddenly provide. If this is your concern, then you are in a good position indeed, because nothing but good can come of generally increased free visitors to your site, and the universal “fix” to such sites is an easy one: ensure that every page of your site carries at least a tiny encapsulated version of your “call-to-action”. Often times, this is as simple as your logo and tagline, because taglines can have an embedded call-to-action. So, no matter what page of your site a search visitor lands on, they are 1-click from your main homepage, contact page, or other point-of-conversion. This is such an essential point, I’m sure I will make it the dedicated subject matter of a future article.

In some cases, a Web marketer may feel that they have a difficult time making the case for natural search optimization, based on available data. But this is only an issue if the investment into natural search optimization is steep and the risk of failure is large. HitTailing alleviates this on two levels. First, it gives you the data you need, typically in under a month. Target “xyz” phrase, and see if the search hits and conversions start happening. What was your cost? What was the return on that investment? Can that be scaled, and for how much more effort? Second, it defers your overall cost of a more fundamental natural campaign, while you engage in HitTailing. HitTail may not fix a site that is broken from a natural-search perspective, but it will fix a certain portion of your site, helping you collect data, prove the long tail SEO concept, and make the case for greater site-wide SEO efforts.

This last point about getting started with natural search helps to allay the final concern that SEO involves large upfront costs with no assurances of short term success.

It doesn’t. Blogging software is free. In our isolated controlled HitTailing experiment a the beginning of our beta, we targeted “best pr firm in nyc”, and today–in less than a month–we are in the top results in all three engines. It is unknown whether we will sustain this position over time, but that is largely a factor of whether we continue that HitTailing process, and make the site achieve that critical momentum and escape velocity that is required.

Once achieved, what is known as the “snowball effect” kicks in, whereby people naturally discovering and blogging about Connors helps fortify the already existing results. Plus, the additional relevance factor of organic linking comes into play. The rising rank of the site plus the increasing mass of the site through HitTailing primes the pump for HitTail to issue more suggestions. The process begins to take on a self-guiding momentum and life of its own. This in turn, brings a high level of strategy to your organic search campaign. Never brainstorm another keyword list. Just keep taking HitTail’s suggestions!

HitTailing provides clarity in the otherwise uncertain world of natural search optimization. So, while we are still advocates of carrying out some paid inclusion–a process any online marketer must have in their repertoire–we encourage you to look closely at getting started with natural search optimization sooner rather than later. You may be pleasantly surprised about how easily all your concerns with the organic optimization route are answered through HitTailing.

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