The debate between natural or organic search engine optimization versus pay per click has been raging for a while among the search engine marketing world as to which is better and a more productive use of a company's limited online marketing budget. Build a better website and focus on organic search engine marketing or dump your dollars into PPC campaigns. Well, if you haven't already figured out what I think … you will very shortly.
60% of all search clicks are in the organic or natural areas of a SERP.
40% are in the sponsored or paid areas.
These numbers are up for debate because they are closely guarded secrets in the industry, but as a general rule, a 60/40 split is accepted.
Google has a 60% market share of all searches and a 30% market share of LOCAL search.
If I am doing PPC on Google, the absolute best I could hope for is 60% (Google Market Share) of 40% (PPC Clicks) or 24% of all searches might click on my ad versus a potential 60% of all searches for Organic. Big gap!
The gap is even greater if we focus on only local search. With local search, Google only has a 30% market share, so 30% of 40% equals 12% of all potential local searches might result in a hit on your ad versus the same 60% for organic ads.
60% versus 12% for local search is a huge gap. If you are investing your dollars trying to gain new customers within a local market, PPC on Google just wont give you access to a large enough audience to be successful. Further, because there are limited available clicks, the cost per click in an auction system is forced upwards. Supply and demand create higher costs per click, decreased return on investment and drastically limit the available marketplace.
Organic optimization offers 5 times the potential customer pool and has no per click costs. The difficulty is that organic takes time to build and can not be guaranteed. My experience with most businesses doing PPC is that the supposed guarantee of PPC is really only a guarantee of going broke by over paying for leads … and that doesn't surprise me with the simple supply and demand principles at work.
Even if you decide that you need to do pay per click on all three major search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN to cover all your bases, you still miss out on 60% of all clicks because they simply aren't where your ads are . Organic search marketing, proper website design and keyword optimization and management are not optional if you want to have a successful online marketing campaign, they are absolutely necessary. If you can't afford both, I suggest focusing on the bigger number of 60% and skip the PPC.
I recommend a simple solution to my clients, invest in long term return and growth through proper web development, monitoring and optimization and use PPC as a short term option for getting started. Much like using direct mail to launch a venture and focusing on long term marketing plans like word of mouth and customer loyalty programs for ongoing success.