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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Worth the Investment

Many marketers face the challenge of selecting an effective marketing strategy on a very limited budget. With the uncertainty of the current economic environment, it is more important than ever for businesses to implement traditional and online marketing strategies that will produce results.

Most business owners agree that Internet marketing offers low cost alternatives to traditional marketing tactics. Although many companies have invested in some form of online marketing, such as email marketing or paid search (Search Engine Marketing-SEM), SEO is often left out of the online marketing mix. This is a mistake because SEO can be beneficial in generating a greater number of qualified visitors to a Web site by targeting key word search results.

Measuring Results

As with any traditional or online marketing tactic, it is important to measure results to determine if the chosen strategy is a profitable investment. Measuring the cost per impression, or the investment associated with displaying an advertisement to each potential customer, can help businesses identify the most cost-effective strategies. It is important to compare the cost per impression for both traditional and online marketing tactics to determine the best investment strategy. Following is a comparison of the cost per impression for some popular traditional marketing tactics as well as online marketing with SEO:

Television Advertising
American Idol - Wednesday night "Results Show" - 30 second spot with 22.9 million viewers:

Total Cost: $705,000
Cost per Impression: $0.031

Print Advertising
New York Times - full-page ad in the Sunday paper with a circulation of 1.65 million:

Total Cost: $145,278
Cost per Impression: $0.088

Radio Advertising
KCBS-FM (an adult hits radio station in Los Angeles with 1.4 million weekly listeners) - 30 second spot with 4,167 listeners during any one 30 second period:

Total Cost: $1,083
Cost per Impression: $0.26

Online Marketing with SEO Monthly
Based on clients' benchmark performance and average impressions of 670,000 per month:

Total Cost: $2,750
Cost per Impression: $0.004

Why Is SEO Overlooked?

Even though SEO produces one of the lowest costs per impression as compared to other traditional and online marketing strategies, it is often overlooked because business leaders are not completely comfortable with the concept. Often they don't take the time to compare online marketing tactics such as SEO with other traditional forms of marketing. Many marketers invest in paid search (SEM) as Google and others have made it ubiquitous and understandable. However, SEO is less well understood by the traditional marketer.

With 38 million searches done a day in the United States alone, SEO should be considered an imperative and included as a marketing budget line item.

Additional Benefits Of SEO

Along with the low cost per impression, there are several additional benefits of SEO that make it an integral part of any online marketing strategy:

Always On - Unlike traditional forms of advertising, such as a TV commercial that may run once an evening, SEO is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week whenever a relevant search is being performed.

Relevancy - More importantly, only those who are searching for specific key words will see the listing, making marketing with SEO much more targeted and relevant than traditional marketing tactics.

Contextual - Instead of passively flipping through a magazine, the searcher is actively seeking information, thus they are already in the mindset of looking for information.

Brand Enhancement - Additionally, being placed in the top search results helps elevate the perceived brand quality. Readers associate a level of professionalism, trust and value with websites that are in the top ranked organic spots of search engines, thinking top rankings must equate to best in their industry.

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