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Natural Search vs. Paid Search: SEO Wins

Most smaller businesses know by now that search engine optimization is an effective way to get their sites noticed by the almighty search engines. But a recent survey indicates that SEO is the best way to generate online leads. Is your site optimized for search?
Most smaller businesses know by now that search engine optimization is an effective way to get their sites noticed by the almighty search engines. But a recent survey indicates that SEO is the best way to generate online leads. Is your site optimized for search?Paul Bruemmer writes on SearchEngineLand about a recent study done in the UK by eConsultancy on online marketing.

The study demonstrates that "natural search is the best tactic for generating online leads, concluding it is greatly underused despite the fact that it outperforms nearly all other types of online marketing."

The stats:

  • Natural search (79%) is the most frequently used online marketing tactic for lead generation, followed by email marketing in-house lists (75%) and paid search (71%).
  • Over half (52%) of company respondents said natural search was "very effective." Just under half (48%) said paid search was very effective.

Bruemmer writes: " While online lead generation is becoming more important for many businesses, only a little over half of the company respondents in this survey felt their company wasn't exploiting this type of marketing as effectively as it could be, illustrating that online lead generation delivers results but could be utilized better."

Bruemmer notes that according to the report, a larger proportion of online lead generation budgets go to paid search advertising even though "natural search is perceived as providing the best value for the money. Companies haven't invested in natural search over and above other internet marketing tactics because it requires more effort, but don't make that mistake in your search marketing efforts."

Bruemmer addresses in-house search marketing managers in his emphasis on "taking advantage of all search marketing tactics," but for many smaller businesses, their marketing managers are wearing many hats or in some cases don't exist. SEO is crucial to a Web site's success and eConsultancy's survey validates the point but is it worth hiring an SEO consultant for?

In the course of profiling many small and mid size businesses, it is clear that SEO is becoming increasingly recognized as a necessary part of an online strategy. But it seems that there is no universal approach to how to implement an effective SEO strategy: Some smaller businesses are outsourcing to their Web site developers, some to SEO consultants, and some are trying to learn the art of SEO on their own. Which practice is best of course depends upon the nature of the business, it's size, and the ability of those involved to implement effective SEO strategies.

What are you doing in your smaller business? Are you your own SEO consultant or are you outsourcing to an SEO expert? Why or why not? Please let us know in the comments.

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