Hello and a Happy New Year! … wow … 2009.
I have been monitoring our results and our clients campaigns over the last months and have noticed changes it the trends compared between SEO and Adwords. We run SEO campaigns and manage Adwords for many of our clients websites and so it is always interesting for me to see where their visitors come from and what campaigns are bringing a higher amount of visitors.
Before I used to be one of those people (was I the only one?) who thought Adwords was best used as a short term solution until you had good natural rankings. But now I think that was completely ridiculous of me. I mean, I never thought Adwords was a waste of money, this is definitely not and never was true, but I thought, get in the top five organically and turn your Adwords off. Unless you are very aggressive of course. I thought you could just keep using Adwords for the phrases that brought good traffic to your site that you didn’t have a high organic ranking for. (plus I was in an SEO sales team)
Now though, as I said, this seems completely naive. The main reason for this I think is that the public’s perception of sponsored links has changed. I will explain.
When it was new, I think people saw it as invasive advertising and did not trust the websites found there so much as they do now. So they would click less and buy less from Adwords sites. Now however it is common place and totally accepted as a relevant and targeted place to buy, or find the information you are looking for. I think that is the main reason anyway, it has heaps more credibility from the users point of view than before.
One reason I think this happened, aside from just the time, is that Adwords has become more and more busy and people have got better and better at using it. The sites in the sponsored links are either very relevant to what you search for, or are from the super popular, get as many people to your site as possible websites. It is easy to weed out the latter if you are not interested in what they offer, based on the text in their ad. Which brings me back to the point of advertisers being better at using Adwords.
Because Ads are much more targeted in the sponsored links, the click through rate is also becoming higher. Users are also becoming used to the sponsored links bringing them straight onto the most relevant page of the website depending on what they search for, so it is quicker browsing. Price shopping is made easier this way.
From the evidence I have, it seems that you need to rank in the top three places organically, if you want to get more traffic than you do from a well run Adwords campaign these days. At least in the different industries I am exposed to……which is pretty diverse.
If you budget allows you to run both, do it. Then you have the best of both worlds. Different people are more inclined to click on sponsored ads or organically listed websites than others, so this way you attract both. If you are found in both lists, it also may help to make you look more professional.
Obviously the more you can target and manage your adwords accounts the better. Get someone to break it down as much as possible for you if you need to keep your cost per click down. And keep up to speed on the latest developments in search engine marketing.
Anyway…I don’t want to carry on too much. Let me know your opinion or experience on this subject.