When I joined, Lisa announced that new SEO chick Judith Lewis was joining and yadda yadda yadda but I started out talking all business and not much fun SEO – and here I go again! One of the areas I often write about is the connection between paid and natural search and how both are an important part of your online strategy. This importance stems not only from the point of view of controlling real estate on the page, but the reinforcement within the searchers mind of your brand.
Organic search results and paid search results are mixed in on the search results page (commonly referred to as the SERP) to varying degrees depending on the engine. The human brain will register unconsciously more information than the conscious mind can grasp. On a SERP, this means the more mentions your site/brand has, the more likely this will register in the searchers mind and sway their decision making process.
Natural and paid search can work in harmony to increase brand/site awareness especially if your organic rankings are not in the top five. While a smaller proportion of searchers will click on a paid search result, it is still important to have a presence there. Since you do not pay for exposure, just clicks, maintaining a presence in the SERP is essential.
For some searchers, this paid result represents an investment in that search term and therefore increased relevance. For other searchers the ad may have a more compelling call to action. To those searchers who choose organic results, your paid ad may become more relevant if what they require is not listed naturally. A paid search ad can also offer a different call to action than your organic listing.
Organic listings, attracting around 80% of searchers clicks, are the main focus for any site. With each page able to rank for a query it is authoritative for, getting organic optimization right is essential. Temporal, semantic and popularity elements of the search algorithm are difficult to fool and as such, sometimes paid search gets you where natural/organic has not yet placed you.
Paid and natural search both have a role to play in attracting searchers. Each provides opportunities to target searchers through exposure and availability of listing. The importance of display cannot be discounted though as Seth Godin illustrates here