Category Archives: Paid and Organic Search

Advertise Your Domain Name on AdWords?

Should I pay for AdWords ads for my own domain name?

If your site has reasonable page rank, typically you will have a very high search engine position for your domain name. If you’re conducting an AdWords campaign, should you also pay for ads that are displayed when a searcher enters your domain name? Even if you might be listed first among the free search results?

An Example

A client of mine has good page rank for his site, obtained over years, and of course his domain name shows up at the head of free search results. He also has an AdWords campaign to generate additional traffic. We’ve seen AdWords bring significant additional traffic of good quality to the site. But should he pay for AdWords to bring him a visitor who queries on his domain name?

The Data

We chose his domain name as one of the terms in his AdWords campaign for three months, and did a detailed analysis of his site log, also using results reported by AdWords. The number of visitors brought by AdWords was identified from log analysis, as well as the number that reached the Order page (the site sells a device direct to consumers). The cost per click reported by AdWords was used to compute a cost for each visitor who reached the Order page, an actual estimate of the cost per order.

Remarkably, over the three-month period, the estimated cost per order for visitors who queried on the domain name was lower than for any other term, including the terms that are known to be the best for traffic! Not only was the domain name an effective way to bring business through AdWords, it was the most effective of all terms!

The Bottom Line

If you use AdWords to promote your site, be sure to include your domain name in the list of search terms you promote.

Interaction of Paid and Organic Search

How Paid and Organic Search Work Together

In an earlier newsletter, I mentioned the results of a study on paid and organic search, showing that the highest profitability resulted from high rankings in both paid and organic search. Sadly, that study didn’t give any details except for that end result. Now I’ve found a study that gives some background to that previous finding, share it with you in this Newsletter.

The Study

Google engaged Enquiro to study the effect of organic and paid search on brand perceptions for people who are in the early stages of purchasing a fuel-efficient car but haven’t yet settled on a brand. The study used Honda as an example. I’ve put the white paper on my Web site, and you can read it by clicking here.

In summary, they found the following:

1. Searchers who found Honda in both top paid and organic search results were 16% more likely to think of Honda as a fuel efficient car than those who didn’t see the ads in both categories.

2. Searchers who saw the brand in both types of results were 42% more likely to remember the brand than when it appeared only in the top organic listings.

3. Searchers who saw Honda in both organic and paid results were 8 percent more likely to intend to purchase Honda and 26 percent less likely to have an intent to purchase Honda if the brand did not appear in either group of listings.


These results give us some insight into what’s going on in the mind of a searcher. They’re searching for a particularly qualified offering (fuel-efficient cars, for example, not just cars), and they’re looking for brands that meet those criteria. Those of us in advertising might not be impressed that a brand name appears in paid and organic listings, but of course our perception is not the same as the perception of the people we’re trying to persuade.

These results certainly apply if you’re a national brand in an area where there are only a few, familiar national brands. Do they apply to the particular nuances of your own situation? A small business can’t afford to hire Enquiro do to a brand study, but they can afford to just try using paid search along with organic search and measure the results.

The Bottom Line

Consider the non-obvious approach of using paid search along with organic search, even for terms where you have high ranking for organic search. And measure the results when you do try it.

Organic or Paid Search–Which is Better?

Is It Best to Emphasize Organic or Paid Search–or Both?

It’s well known that it takes some time and considerable skill to get search engine position for organic (i.e., “free”) search, while pay per click search puts you on the results page as soon as you start paying. A conventional approach is to start a paid campaign at the same time as an organic campaign, with the idea that once organic search is well established the spend on the paid campaign can be reduced or eliminated. Others might simply ignore paid search and insist on using only organic search; it takes time for them to see results, but those results are all free. I’ve also seen site owners focus so much on paid search that they ignored the significant business they can obtain from organic search. What’s the best approach?

New Studies Shed Light on This Question

One particularly relevant study at the Stern School of Business of NYU dealt with the relationship between organic search results and paid search results. They discovered that significantly better clickthrough results are obtained when the search engine result appears both in paid search and organic search. The effect is less important for very broad search terms and is more important for terms that are highly site-specific. In fact, the study showed that using the combination of approaches would increase the profits of the advertiser compared with using just one approach.

My own experience indicates that site-specific terms, often those with two or three words, are often associated with high average time on site for visitors, and hence high conversion rates. This study shows that the approach of seeking paid and organic search results from the outset of a Web marketing campaign is appropriate, but the option of dropping the paid campaign when organic search starts to work is not the best approach.

The Bottom Line

While your site is in development, starting developing the organic search campaign, so that you start toward achieving those results from the outset. At the time the site is launched, start your pay per click campaign also, with the idea that it will bring you visitors right away, before you have results for organic search, and then when you are successful with organic search the pay per click results will complement their effectiveness. With both campaigns, focus on site-specific terms at first, and include more general terms as you learn of their effectiveness in your campaigns.

Paid and Free Search

When you look at the results of a Google search, all of the ads on the right side are paid; the advertisers will pay Google if you click on the ad. The top one or two listings on the left might be paid also. The listings below them are free; the site owners are having their sites listed for free on those search engine results. How can you get your site listed in either area? What’s a good approach to use?

Free Search

If you don’t do anything to your site, it will likely be found by Google and listed somewhere in search results. However, that first page of search results for any phrase is pretty competitive, so you’re likely to need either help or an education campaign for yourself to get there. Those visitors come to your site free of charge! Essentially, to get high rankings in free search you want your site to be authoritative. Getting good search engine position in free search is a long-term process, as you gradually build site credibility over time. What you don’t want to do is to try to fool the search engines, since you’re likely to get caught and seriously penalized.

Paid Search

On the Google home page, you can find links to AdWords. You can establish an account, write your ads, and as soon as Google accepts your payment, your ads will appear and visitors will begin to arrive. As you set up your program, you’ll see that it’s a complex affair. The best approach is to start small, with just $50 or $100 a month, as you learn how to make AdWords work for you. Again, it’s a very competitive business arena, where professionals get the best results. But if you’re interested and work at it, you can become expert; I have several clients who manage their own AdWords campaigns.

The Bottom Line

A combination of pay per click and free search engine campaigns provides traffic right away from the paid campaign, while the free campaign builds. Gradually, the free campaign can provide an increasing amount of traffic. If you’re reasonably technical it is feasible for you to do both yourself, but you might decide to put that time into your own business, and let a specialist (like me, for instance!) do these tasks.

Google, King of Search

Google–Still King of Search

Yahoo and Microsoft have made a deal to share search. Bing is being advertised. What does this mean for search promotion strategy? Continue to go for just Google or consider others as well?

A recent survey is definitive: Google is still king. This issue reviews the survey results and recommends search promotion strategy based on those results.

The Survey

Comscore has released their search engine survey for September of 2010. It shows that Google has gained market share compared with its rivals, with Yahoo giving up that market share. Google now performs 66.1% of US searches, and the second contender, Yahoo, does 16.7%. Yahoo’s share declined by .7% as Google’s increased by just that amount. Bing is in third place with 11.2%, and there are no other competitors with market share above 5%. If we combine Yahoo’s and Microsoft’s market shares, they are still less than half of Google!

Google remains the real benchmark for search engine ranking–that is, if you can get well ranked in Google you’re likely to do well in Bing and Yahoo. It’s not the other way around–other search engines can be spammed and fooled into giving high ranking in situations where Google would remove you from their index.

The Bottom Line

Given that Google is both the hardest place to earn rank and the most important, the strategy is clear–study Google, go for search engine position in Google, and the others will follow, although they don’t matter nearly as much.