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Paid vs.Organic Search Engine Marketing

By Occupancy Marketing | June 22nd, 2011

Increasing the online presence of your web site is a discipline commonly called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Occupancy Marketing provides some advice and guidance on the discipline of search engine marketing, looking at the different approaches. Search Engines typically display two types of results, paid search such as Google AdWords (known as ‘Sponsored Links’) and the main search results, where the search engine delivers what it believes to be the most relevant results.

Web site owners pay the search engine for the paid search result on a per visit basis, typically from £0.10 to £2.00 to per visit depending on the competition. The free method, typically called “organic search”, accounts for the majority of world-wide visitors to Web sites and although labelled as being free, the reality is that many businesses pay search engine marketing companies to assist in maximising the potential from organic search.

So which approach is best?

Each of the approaches has advantages. Paid search is the easiest to set up and manage; it typically takes less than an hour to see visitors coming to your site from your selected keywords. Costs can be controlled very easily by setting budgets and for many businesses; this type of advertising is an excellent medium.

The downside to paid search is that whilst the barrier to entry is low, if you are in a competitive marketplace, you will be competing against professionals who use a variety of sophisticated techniques to maximise return on investment. Unless you are measuring your conversion rates, you are potentially wasting marketing spend. You would not run your business without management accounts so don’t run your paid search marketing without knowing the return.

Organic search engine marketing is viewed to be more complicated and in many ways it is. It can be difficult to make progress in competitive areas and it requires at least a basic level of search engine marketing to make any progress. Hoteliers should not dismiss this medium however as 80% of search visitors world-wide derive from organic search. Tourism businesses can do a lot to improve online visibility.

Register your business with Google Places for example to ensure your business comes up in the popular map search. Make sure your web site contains well written content about your business segments and more importantly, encourage other business such as local attractions, venues and suppliers to link to your web site. Both approaches can be very successful but the best approach is to have an integrated strategy, using your web site analytics package to monitor the results. If you see visitors converting for certain organic keywords, consider boosting this with paid search.

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