As we approach the holidays, search engines are getting more attention than usual. I think this time of year sparks more interest in the topic because of the prevalence of online shopping, and the significant power and sway search engines hold over the economic fate of many e-commerce based businesses. With these business owners relying on organic, paid and social media avenues to drive conversions to their websites, everyone wants to know how to get the most out of their search engine exposure, and how to do this for a nice profit margin. This week I’m going to be talking about the interesting organic vs. paid listings debate, updates to Google’s SearchWiki, and the emergence of Google’s beta-less browser, Chrome.
Organic vs. Paid Search Listings
Since the introduction of paid listings alongside natural search results, advertisers have long debated, studied, and scoured the habits of the searcher to better understand where their money is best spent. There’s been scientific eye-tracking reports, endless statistics, and miles of user data that all points to different results, but a common theme. Most industry professionals agree that organic listings are more cost-effective and beneficial over the long term, but the arguments for instant exposure and in-depth tracking through paid search have been strong. The latest noise in this arena is some stats first written about at SEOmoz, and it sheds some interesting light on this topic. Here’s a summary of the data from Enquisite:
- For every 1 click on a paid search result, the organic results generate 8.5 clicks
- Based on action/conversion tracking, paid search clicks convert, on average, at 1.5X the rate of organic clicks
- From the numbers above, we can see that the opportunity from organic search is 5.66X that of paid search
What does this mean? Simply put, organic reigns supreme in traffic and conversion potential. But the SEOmoz article also discusses how much more money is spent on paid search rather than organic SEO. The question remains, when will companies realize their missed organic opportunities?
Google’s SearchWiki Listens
After the premier of Google’s SearchWiki, a feature that allows users with a Google account to manipulate and comment on search results, the blogging community, including TechCrunch, called for some additional features and Google listened. In addition to a way to turn of SearchWiki and remain logged into your Google account, it was said by Google VP Marisa Mayer that there’s a possibility that SearchWiki could influence rankings. Here’s a quote from the TechCrunch article: “But in the future it’s likely Google will use the data to at least make obvious changes. An example is if ‘thousands of people’ were to knock a search result off a search page, they’d be likely to make a change.” I bet there’s groups forming now to start the mass-manipulation, as anything as valuable as first page listings will certainly be a target of those trying to game the system for profit.
Google’s Chrome Out of the Beta-Bag
Although I wasn’t the first to break the news of Google’s new browser, I did report it within hours of general release, so I’m pretty proud of that (especially since it was on Labor Day 2008). Now, 100 days since it was introduced, Chrome is out of beta and official. I’m a Chrome user myself, and although it’s got some drawbacks, I find the speed and simplicity a big plus, as well as the tiled home page and easy bookmark features. Chrome has a reported 10 million current users, which may seem like a big number, but is fairly small in the larger picture. IE still holds 70% of the browser market, with Firefox at 20%. Chrome sits in 4th behind Safari at .8%, still a respectable dent after just 3 months of beta release. Personally, here’s some updates I want in Chrome:
- Give me my Google Toolbar, with PR and links to my Google Apps
- Smooth the fonts, they look way too choppy
- Improve image and image search speed and results