Although guaranteed placement programs such as ExactSeek Featured Listings guarantee your site will appear on the front page for specific terms and Google Adwords will guarantee your placement depending on your bid, does this necessarily mean you will get an even spread of traffic between the two?
In a survey conducted by iProspect * that surveyed 1,649 people, there were mixed results on which set of results users considered to be more relevant to their query. In this case 72.3% of Google users picked the organic results to be more relevant to a query while 71.2% of MSN users picked paid advertising as the most relevant search. Across the four main search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL) 60.5% of users preferred organic results over paid results for relevance.
So why the big difference between MSN and Google in perceived user relevance in results? Could it be that Google’s organic listings are better than MSN’s or do the users of each search engine perceive relevancy to their query differently?
Being an experienced search engine user, I am split over which set of results (Organic or Paid) I prefer to click when performing a search, but then again it also depends on the type of query. If I am researching information, I will usually click the organic listings as I have found these to have the more relevant results. On the other hand if I am looking to buy something online, most of the time I look at the paid listings. Paid listings for e-commerce also tend to have websites with accurate pricing as it is logical that someone paying for clicks would also invest in keeping their website up to date.
Another advantage of paid advertising is that it has helped smaller companies gain prompt exposure and compete with the bigger dominant companies, as compared to slowly optimizing their pages over time. Most forms of paid advertising will guarantee your position in search results but this does not mean they will attract the right type of potential customer that will purchase your product or service by merely being in a higher position than your competitor. A mix of both forms of advertising is vital for success.
If you have found your organic listings are bringing you the traffic you want then stick with it, otherwise take a look at our Clicks4Sure service.
* Statistics taken from iProspect May 2004
This article was written in conjunction with George Gavalas, ineedhits Search Engine Optimization Specialist.