It’s been a long held concept that natural search, aka SEO, is a top internet marketing tactic for acquiring better conversions, leads, and ROI. Now, eConsultancy has collected data and documented a study in the U.K. showing that natural search is the best tactic for generating online leads, concluding it is greatly underused despite the fact that it outperforms nearly all other types of online marketing.
Survey says: Natural search generates more online leads
1. Natural search (79%) is the most frequently used online marketing tactic for lead generation, followed by email marketing in-house lists (75%) and paid search (71%).
2. Over half (52%) of company respondents said natural search was “very effective.” Just under half (48%) said paid search was very effective.
While online lead generation is becoming more important for many businesses, only a little over half of the company respondents in this survey felt their company wasn’t exploiting this type of marketing as effectively as it could be, illustrating that online lead generation delivers results but could be utilized better.
Paid search advertising gets more of the budget
The report found a greater proportion of online lead generation budgets are allocated to paid search advertising despite the fact that natural search is perceived as providing the best value for the money. Companies haven’t invested in natural search over and above other internet marketing tactics because it requires more effort, but don’t make that mistake in your search marketing efforts.
As an-house search marketing manager, you need to make sure you are doing “total search marketing” by taking advantage of all search marketing tactics. And don’t forget the superior benefits of natural search when allocating budget. Below is a review of all areas of search that need to be covered for maximum ROI.
Total search engine marketing
To truly understand the role of search marketing, your in-house team must be knowledgeable in a wide spectrum of search services, including organic natural search, paid search advertising, paid inclusion, international search, local search, vertical search, social search, mobile search, blended search, and search personalization. We’ll elaborate on the first five in Part 1, and finish up with the last five in Part 2. Below are the activities your in-house team can engage in to reach your audience via the internet.
Natural search: The methodology for driving traffic through organic natural search optimization requires a wide-range of best practices surrounding all aspects of web site development, including server configuration, site architecture, page construction, type of content, target personas, link profiles, and internal linking structure. This involves multi-disciplinary teams with experts in technical services, user experience, creative direction, and search marketing expertise. Natural search is the bedrock and cornerstone to all search marketing functionality (discussion for another article).
Paid search advertising: The practice of driving paid search traffic has become increasingly more difficult with respect to the number of keywords being managed, landing page optimization/testing, and Google’s Quality Score. It has been proven now that bid wars are a useless strategy, and positions 1 through 10 paid are on equal ground when measuring ROI. The most sophisticated in-house paid search teams are working in silos without the benefit of networking and exchange of new information in managing their account/s. Those who have gone outside for advice are seriously impressed with the results.
Paid inclusion: This may also include comparison shopping engines, re-targeting programs, or CPM related search engine ad buys. Google recently announced Ad Planner to help media planners mix display and search, a close relative to paid inclusion. Although paid inclusion has very limited application for most companies, it remains effective for some situations involving large databases.
International search: Highly specialized area requiring global experience beyond translation services. There are only a handful of people who have nailed this area down, so it will be very important to network with all of your contacts and consider multiple options before embarking outside of the US in search marketing and optimization.
Local search: There have been significant areas of improvement in Local Search strategy and tactics over the past 12 months. Again, this is an area requiring ‘experience in Local Search’ if you want to avoid all the mistakes and capture all the quick wins.
The takeaway is that search marketing is no longer just having a proficiency in paid search, and natural search is no longer just an on-page and off-page tactic that emphasizes keywords or press releases and linking. Paid and natural search require multi-disciplinary teamwork focused on your specific business goals and integrated within your entire media mix. Visit this space in a few weeks for the conclusion of this article, where we review what in-house search marketing teams can do to improve overall operational efficiency with vertical search, social search, mobile search, blended search, and search personalization.
Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and in-house consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for the strategic implementation of search engine marketing activities within Red Door’s internet Presence Management (IPM) services. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.