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February 24, 2008

SES London 2008: Balancing Organic & Paid Listings

By SEOidiot

Moderator: Kevin Ryan VP Search Engine Watch
Speakers: Dixon Jones, MD Receptional Limited
Jay Bean: Founder CEO, Orange Soda Inc
Nathan Levi: Head of Search Campaign Marketing Avenue A | Razorfish
Richard Clark: Pureplay Marketing Manager, Dixons.co.uk

Paid and organic has been a debate for a long time and the panel discussed the ways to balance the two strategies for the best results.

Dixon Jones
Lots of peoples clients argue that organic is something that should replace the early spend for PPC. Dixon showed an example of someone who contacted him via the form on his site after clicking on Receptionals Adwords ad attempting to sell him SEO!

You should pay for ppc even when you have placement within the organic serps. Dixon showed a good example of how the organic and paid results are blurred now, the example illustrated how a search can return the one box results that gives news and stock info etc.

Many of the sites linked to within the one box carry advertising as a business model. So traditional organic listings do get pushed down the page, thats why you need a dual approach.

We then looked at an example of how changes in screen resolution / size can almost allow one company with indented results in the serps to dominate the above the fold results.

Dominance in any one serp cannot be achieved without a balanced approach to using both methods.

Affiliates can also provide a way of finding your site pushed from the visible to below the fold for a given vertical.

PPC is part of the mix, SEO is the sum of the mix. You need both tools to be able to ensure you have the ability to respond the changes in circumstances that come with any search engine.

Two listings on a page converts better than just one method and more listings help you dominate more of the space on the page from your competition.

Jay Bean
Smaller local advertisers have some real opportunities today as a growing percentage of searches feature a localization element.

Benefits for the balanced approach: -

  • You can turn up and down the ppc spend dependent on business or seasonal factors.
  • You don't have any guarantees that the organic wont change and without the paid listing you can find yourself exposed to changes in search engine preference.
  • You get greater credibility from appearing both in the paid and organic results and this can benefit conversions significantly.

Where to start ?
Check the current ppc spend and analyze your keywords to give you an indication of terms that you might want to optimize for in natural search or by adding a local market segment.
Set a budget to allow you to allocate your spend between the paid and SEO efforts and in the early days whilst waiting for the seo efforts to kick in paid can take more of the resources.

The case study Jay showed highlighted the benefit of targeting specific terms for SEO and a far broader set for paid.

For the smaller or local companies it may be difficult to compete with the large corporations but there remains good opportunities to compete on the local level.

Nathan Levi
Why should I buy my branded keywords when i rank for the terms in the organic listings often at a high cost per click?
Nathan showed us some case studies to illustrate the effect of the dual strategy over the single.
Its important that you try to get the analytics in one place to allow you to make informed decisions.
You need to be able to drive enough traffic to be able to get robust statistics so keyword choice is key.
They did a test to see what effect turning the paid listings off one day and on the next would have.
When the paid listings were on it pulled traffic away from natural but the click through rate was greatly improved and the overall effect was that both listings benefited from each other.
Conversion rates were static across the test, whilst increasing the incremental cost of having paid listings the overall benefit from the increased conversions made it well worth it.

In conclusion there is a multiplier effect of holding both natural and paid.

Richard Clark
60% of searches now have 3 or more words and 90% have 2 or more.
Dixons.co.uk started by spending all their online budgets on paid listings targeting generic terms but have grown to use a more balanced approach.

Dependent on budgets you need to target the stage on the buying process that you can afford and that makes sense for you, for example if Dixon's target the term 'TV' they  are targeting people in the research phase of the buying cycle but you can also target people in the buying phase by targeting much more focused terms like 'Toshiba 32 inch  lcd TV'.

When trademark isn't protected you should always bid on the brand.
Over 20% uplift in revenue when bid on branded terms when you are also top of the organic.

Being top of ppc and organic increases brand awareness and recall.

Q & A Session:
Will buying paid listings affect your organic listings?
Nathan Levi - Throughout there many thousands of listings where they have organic and paid results they don't see any effect that would indicate the engines (MSN specifically in this case) do not alter any organic results based on paid ads for the same.


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