Return on investment, or ROI, is a very common indicator of success in a marketing campaign. It’s effective and useful in that it allows you to determine how much business your marketing dollars brought, which measures the efficiency of your efforts. Obviously, the goal is to get the highest return on one’s investment—any marketer out there would love for a low-budget campaign to go viral and send sales numbers through the roof. But achieving awesome ROI figures doesn’t come easily.
A key part of maximizing your ROI lies in your strategy. Professionals can determine a blend of various marketing channels that will make the most of any campaign’s budget. Since much of today’s marketing budgets go toward online search engine advertising, it’s only natural to compare its efficacy to that of organic search.
For those who don’t know, paid search involves paying money to a search engine (usually on a per-click basis) to appear on certain pre-selected search engine results pages (SERPs). You’ve seen these ads if you’ve ever searched for something on Google. Organic search involves taking steps to optimize your website in a way that makes it more likely to show up as an actual search result, rather than an and on the SERP. Typically, search engine users are more likely to click on an organic result rather than an ad. When they do, the search engine doesn’t charge you for that click. But that doesn’t mean that it was free—optimizing a page or site to show up organically on search engine results pages is very time-intensive and never a sure-thing.
So, between organic search vs paid search, which approach offers better ROI? There are too many variables involved to give a definitive answer, but we’ll cover how each one influences return on investment below.
Organic search, as stated above, involves attracting visitors to your website and taking an action in a way that requires no real advertising. By ensuring that your site offers useful content that’s relevant to the people you’re trying to attract, you’ll likely move up in the search engine results as more people find your site, spend more time on it, and link to it (this behavior sends signals to Google that your site is quality.) The appeal of the organic method is that it doesn’t technically require any monetary investment; by spending time researching keywords, creating quality content, and sharing or connecting with other sites, you can gain more traffic and, ostensibly, higher revenue. However, hiring an expert in organic search will give you the peace of mind that you’re using the right keywords and creating the right content, so the investment is often worth it to save you the time and frustration of trial-and-error. The potential return on this investment is nearly unlimited, as attaining a top-five rank for certain keywords can expose you to millions of potential customers per day, depending on the popularity of the term.
Again, keep in mind that organic search is not an overnight solution. There’s a lot of patience involved, but the end result can be well worth it.
On the other hand, paid search can start drawing in potential customers right away. By bidding on keywords, you want to show up for, you can appear prominently on the search engine results page, often right next to the person who has been building up their organic search strategy over months and years—for a price. While paid search can bring in traffic with a simple ad buy, it is also wise to work with an expert on this approach as well. Everything from keywords to bid amounts to ad text needs to be dialed in perfectly to maximize your ad spending; otherwise you’re just wasting money on an ineffective campaign. An added bonus to paid search is that if your ads are targeted just right and users enjoy your site, it can also boost your organic ranking.
So, there you have it: organic search requires financial investment but more patience. Paid search can bring instant results but be prepared to pay for them, as the amount of search traffic you get is often closely associated with the amount of money you spend on ads. There’s no way to choose a winner between organic search vs paid search, and many marketers use a blend of both. Both approaches are likely see much greater ROI efficiencies when you entrust an expert to handle the planning and execution for you, as the return rate is highly dependent on the quality of the work put in. If you’d like professional help with your online marketing, check out our Services page to see what we can do for you.
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