Regus recently hired on UK-based Smart Traffic to bolster its organic search rankings, which they report has achieved a 155% growth in online inquiry conversions by optimizing its web ranking in natural search, also known as “organic search”. And, according to Smart Traffic, it’s working.
Philip Cheek, CEO of Smart Traffic ties much of it to the explosion of smart phone usage. “With sales via online and mobile platforms expected to rise by over 13 per cent in 2013 in the UK alone, businesses of all sizes are recognising the potential that the web offers for expanding sales and reaching new markets. An integrated online strategy is now one of the biggest priorities for companies and organisations that are looking at avenues for growth and omni-channel retail opportunities,” he said.
Clearly Regus, like many business centers, is recognizing the importance of building search rankings up organically, rather than just running ads. Still, many business center owners struggle with how to deploy a strong SEO strategy that will guide qualified traffic to their site and where to start. Should they use a Pay Per Click program, such as Google AdWords, or build traffic organically through relevant content and cooperative back links from compatible sites? Which is more successful? In part it depends on what study you read and who was asked.
Studies attempting to track popularity of paid ads versus organic search yield results that are somewhat puzzling. A recent study conducted by Search Engine Watch revealed some interesting metrics. Young, web-savvy adults tended to skip over the paid ads and go straight to the top ranking organic search results. Older people tended to click on the paid ads first. When queried further, few were even aware that the links at the top were paid ads! They just assumed the top links were the most popular. All this confusion has not gone unnoticed by the Federal Trade Commission, by the way. In June, the FTC rolled out a new set of guidelines for the various search engines to follow to ensure that users can, in fact, distinguish between paid results and free listings.
The question remains: is one method better than the other? There seem to be as many opinions as articles out there. We did find a thoughtful blog from Prosar Inbound Marketing that lays out the pros and cons quite effectively. The bottom line, according to Prosar, is that organic search, while it takes more time to build ranking, is more effective in the long run, as it moves the site listing up naturally, based upon the value of the content as well as number of back links from popular, influential sites. Ads may initially provide a much faster result, but will likely only last as long as the duration of the run.
Perhaps the conventional wisdom in this case might be to listen to Regus. Certainly they have the funds to afford the most vigorous of paid ad campaigns; yet they are opting to include an equally rigorous organic search marketing effort. Regardless of which approach you take for your business center, make sure you are not ignoring the power of the search engines. If you have not yet waded into the waters of Search Engine Marketing, the time to get started is now!
Image source: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net