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Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-Click Marketing Strategies

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Any e-commerce venture using a website as the main shop front should invest in marketing its website. In this study, the relationship between website owners having invested in search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC), respectively, is investigated. The design used in this research involves an empirical field experimental approach in which implementation of both SEO and PPC are considered, with subsequent comparison of results. Data were gathered from Google search results after performing both Fat Head and Long Tail key-phrase searches based in various categories. Websites that were listed among the top 10 in the sponsored section of search results were recorded. These websites were then checked to see if they also had an SEO ranking within the top 100 for both the Fat Head and Long Tail key-phrases. It is found that website owners seldom invest in SEO as part of a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. This seems to confirm some of the findings by other authors. This research has important implications for SEO and PPC practitioners, and for website owners. It should influence the way budgets on search engine marketing are applied. Finally, it could be used by marketing managers in better utilizing their limited SEM dollars. No evidence could be found that this kind of empirical research has been done, hence the results are considered to be unique.
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Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-
Click Marketing Strategies
W. T. Kritzinger a & M. Weideman a
a Website Attribute Research Centre (WARC), Cape Peninsula
University of Technology , Cape Town , South Africa
Accepted author version posted online: 18 Jun 2013.Published
online: 18 Jul 2013.
To cite this article: W. T. Kritzinger & M. Weideman (2013) Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-
Click Marketing Strategies, Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23:3,
273-286, DOI: 10.1080/10919392.2013.808124
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Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23: 273–286, 2013
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1091-9392 print / 1532-7744 online
DOI: 10.1080/10919392.2013.808124
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION AND PAY-PER-CLICK
MARKETING STRATEGIES
W. T. Kritzinger and M. Weideman
Website Attribute Research Centre (WARC), Cape Peninsula University of
Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Any e-commerce venture using a website as the main shop front should invest in marketing
its website. In this study, the relationship between website owners having invested in search
engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC), respectively, is investigated. The design
used in this research involves an empirical field experimental approach in which implemen-
tation of both SEO and PPC are considered, with subsequent comparison of results. Data
were gathered from Google search results after performing both Fat Head and Long Tail key-
phrase searches based in various categories. Websites that were listed among the top 10 in
the sponsored section of search results were recorded. These websites were then checked to
see if they also had an SEO ranking within the top 100 for both the Fat Head and Long
Tail key-phrases. It is found that website owners seldom invest in SEO as part of a search
engine marketing (SEM) campaign. This seems to confirm some of the findings by other
authors. This research has important implications for SEO and PPC practitioners, and for
website owners. It should influence the way budgets on search engine marketing are applied.
Finally, it could be used by marketing managers in better utilizing their limited SEM dollars.
No evidence could be found that this kind of empirical research has been done, hence the
results are considered to be unique.
Keywords: pay-per-click; search engine marketing; search engine optimization; website
1. INTRODUCTION
Kennedy and Kennedy (2008) have claimed that it is important for all businesses to
have a Web presence. With an estimated $102.1 billion spent by more than one billion users
on online sales in 2006, it makes financial sense to acknowledge this trend (Burns 2007).
The key to being found by the right people at the right time, according to the same authors,
lies with search engines. There are two ways a customer will find a business website via
a search engine: through an organic result listing (based on search engine optimization—
SEO) or a pay-per-click (PPC) listing.
When search engines add PPC to organic results, they provide a second list of ranked
results on the same page as the organic results. This generates more competition among
websites, especially commercial websites. Not only do the traditional organic results have
to compete for the top 10 positions among each other, but now another entrant has been
added to chase for a first position—PPC.
Address correspondence to M. Weideman, P.O. Box 3109, Tyger Valley, 7536, Cape Town, South Africa.
E-mail: weidmanm@cput.ac.za
273
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274 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
Empirical evidence shows that most Search Engine Marketing (SEM) spending
(approximately 82%) has gone toward PPC campaigns, with only 12% spent on SEO and
another 6% on other SEM strategies (Sullivan 2002, as cited by Sen, 2005). Research by
Sen (2005) showed that even if the total cost of implementing an SEO and a PPC cam-
paign were the same, the PPC campaign would still prevail as the SEM strategy of choice
for most online marketers. Other research on SEM has reported that 60%–86% of search
engine users click on the displays in the main section (natural results) when conducting
online queries, whereas only 14%–40% select the sponsored links (Hotchkiss 2004, as
cited by Sen 2005). Neethling’s (2008) research confirmed this trend, and also claimed
that ignoring either PPC or SEO as part of a SEM strategy will cause a company to lose a
large number of potential clients.
SEO and PPC each has their own advantages and disadvantages. PPC can ensure a
website being listed immediately and, furthermore, can ensure high rankings, assuming a
high bid price and quality score. One disadvantage is that PPC can be costly, especially
with the growing competition for popular keywords. SEO, on the other hand, cannot ensure
top rankings (Visser and Weideman 2011), but could be cheaper to implement.
Furthermore, it can take time to experience ranking increases as a result of SEO
implementation on a website (Zuze 2011). The main hurdle to implementing an effec-
tive SEO program is the fact that each search engine has its own requirements, which
means that a website optimized for one search engine is not necessarily optimized for the
others (Sen 2005). A further complexity is that search engines also continuously change
their ranking algorithms in order to prevent search engine spamdexing. Due to this factor,
websites need to be constantly updating their SEO strategy, which can become costly. SEO
also has advantages, the biggest being that SEO listings occupy the main area of a search
engine’s result page, and thus search engine users cannot easily ignore them (Neethling
2008).
There is a paucity of empirical evidence containing guidelines for online marketers
striving to maximize traffic to their website by employing both PPC and SEO campaigns
simultaneously.
At the same time, the literature offers little clarity about how website owners gener-
ally split their budget between natural and paid results. The objective of this research is to
examine those who have invested in PPC, and determine whether or not they also invest in
increasing rankings in natural results.
2. BACKGROUND
More than a decade and a half ago, it was already claimed that the growth of the Web
has given rise to a wide collection of new information sources, which resulted in users being
faced with the daunting task of determining which sources are valid and which not (Abels,
White, and Hahn 1997). Most users rely on the Web due to the low cost of information
retrieval, as opposed to the expense of having to buy a book or make use of a library. Other
advantages of the Web include the convenience in terms of time and access as well as the
ability to easily record results.
The Web is not just about promoting one’s work but is also about the interactive
exchange of information, which has now evolved into a powerful business tool (Applegate
et al. 1996; Green 2000; Holsapple and Singh 2000). The Web continues to attract
businesses in the millions, with the main application areas being:
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SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGIES 275
rpublicity
rmarketing and advertising
rdirect online selling
rresearch and development
rcommunication and collaboration
This highlights the importance of ensuring that an organization’s website is visible to search
engines.
2.1. Search Engines
Search engines are programs that offer interaction with the Web via a frontend inter-
face through which a user can enter a search term, or make successive selections from
relevant directories. The search engine software then compares the search term against
contents of an index file that contains information about countless websites. Matches found
are returned to the user via the frontend. The index is updated regularly either by human
editors or by automated programs (e.g., spiders, robots, crawlers) (Weideman 2005).
Green (2000) provided a very basic definition of a search engine: “A database that
contains massive amounts of data about websites.” Kritzinger and Weideman (2005) further
stated that search engines provide the average Web user with a mostly free, relatively easy
way to find general information on the Web.
Search engines are the primary search tools used for information retrieval on the Web
(Spink and Xu 2000). It has been estimated that around 80% of Web users employ search
engines to obtain information from the Web (Thelwall 2001). This highlights the funda-
mental importance of webpages being listed with search engines. An important strategy for
any website owner is planning how visitors can find their way to their particular website
(Thelwall 2001).
According to Flosi (2011) the search engine companies that generate the most
searches on the Web are Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask and AOL (see Figure 1). The data were
taken from the ComScore Media Metrix qSearch service, which measures search-specific
traffic on the Web. Data are gathered by monitoring the Web activities in the United States
(Flosi 2011). Each of the search engine companies listed in Figure 1 consists of different
sites whose results were combined into one overall figure for the company’s entire network.
For example:
Figure 1 Percentage of searches done (Flosi 2011) (color figure available online).
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276 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
Google: Produces results from any Google-owned website such as google.com or Google
Image Search.
Yahoo!: Produces results from any Yahoo!-owned website including those of AltaVista,
AllTheWeb, and Overture.
MSN: Produces results from any MSN-operated website such as the search engine Bing.
AOL: Produces results from any Time Warner-owned website, including AOL Search
and Netscape Search.
Ask: Produces results from Ask and any site within the Ask-owned Excite Network,
including Excite, iWon, MyWay.com and My Web Search.
Search engines have been praised because of their ability to quickly locate a vast array of
information on an extraordinary range of topics. Despite this fact, they have fallen victim to
criticism as well. Many users feel that search engines tend to retrieve irrelevant information,
which does not satisfy their information needs (Mukhopadhyay et al. 2007). In addition,
they have been criticized for the tendency to retrieve duplicates. In view of the fact that
there are many different types of search engines, the issue surfaces of what ranking criteria
they use to decide which websites are “good enough” to deserve inclusion in the engine’s
search database. Each has its own rules for searching and establishing which websites to
include (Mukhopadhyay et al 2007).
2.2. Search Engine Marketing
The term SEM was introduced by Sullivan (2001a) to refer to a variety of activities
involved in performing SEO, managing PPC listings, submitting websites to directories,
and developing online marketing strategies for businesses, organizations, and individuals.
Further, Sullivan (2010) defined SEM as a form of Web marketing that seeks to promote
websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs). Methods
include SEO, PPC, contextual advertising, digital asset optimization, and paid inclusion
(PI). Moreover, Curran (2004) observed that:
Some companies are budgeting enough for payment to search engines and they have to.
Deciding not to, is a bit like launching a media campaign and deciding to ignore one
whole media, like TV.
According to Winterberry Group (2012), search spending of $17.6 billion in 2011 was
expected to rise by 12.4% in 2012 to $19.8 billion. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers
(2011) reported that, in 2010, 46% of global online advertising spending was devoted to
SEM, with U.S. advertisers spending $12 billion. Among all types of online advertising,
SEM is becoming the dominant type (Berman and Katona 2011). It is the fastest growing
type of online advertising (Shih, Chen, and Chen 2013).
PI is a SEM strategy that ensures inclusion in a search engine’s index normally in
exchange for a once-off payment (Sullivan 2001b). Furthermore, PI ensures that changes
made to a website will be updated in the search engine index more quickly, as websites
using PI will be visited more regularly. However, PI also varies from one search engine to
the next. Some search engines (e.g., Yahoo!) offer a PI service for payment, whereas others
(e.g., Google) do not (Neethling 2008).
However, PI cannot guarantee high rankings in search results. In fact, PI does not
even guarantee placement in search engine results (Sullivan 2001b), although websites that
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SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGIES 277
do invest this way are likely to receive more traffic than websites that do not. This is due to
the fact that a website can wait for weeks, or even months, for a search engine crawler to
index it, whereas websites using PI may see results within days (Zuze 2011).
Two types of marketing activities can be performed through search engines in an
e-commerce setting (Dou et al. 2010). First, companies pay to have links to their websites
displayed in the sponsored section of a search engine results page. This is referred to as
PPC. Second, using SEO, companies strive to push the ranking of their websites higher in
the organic results of search engines through the implementation of a variety of techniques.
In this case, no payment is made to search engines. To ensure top rankings, a website owner
could invest in either one or both of these two SEM strategies (Neethling 2008).
2.3. Pay-per-click
PPC was designed as a method of creating revenue for search engines. Over the past
15 years, users have become accustomed to search engines offering free services for which
they are not prepared to pay (Moxley, Blake, and Maze 2004; Henshaw 2001). Search
engines go through a number of steps to review, index, and generate listings. Although there
are a number of ways to complete these steps, all of them are costly (Wittenberg 2004).
PPC or Pay for Placement is used to describe a variety of overlapping practices that
in essence refer to linking individual websites to specific keywords for payment (Moxley
et al. 2004). As a result, potential clients are immediately taken to a website by selecting
keywords that their specific target market will use in a search (Curran 2004). It is also
important for a webmaster to research the possible keywords that may be used in a search
for their specific product or service (Curran 2004). PPC could become costly as advertis-
ers are locked in an ongoing competition for popular keywords (Sullivan 2003). As PPC
suggests, advertisers also have to pay for every click they receive via that sponsored link
(Jansen and Schuster 2011).
As noted previously, search engine sponsors need some sort of income to cover
expenses. If the user is unwilling to pay for basic search results, they have to look else-
where for income. As a result, search engines take advantage of advertisers’ need to be
visible and visited. Having the advantage of creating the largest amount of Web traffic and
of generating ranking results, they offer services that appeal to the advertiser. Specifically,
they address these advertisers’ eagerness for more visibility, enthusiasm for being placed
on the first page of returned search results, and impatience for waiting to be reviewed and
indexed (Thelwall 2001).
Most search engines offer PPC services in order to generate revenue (Neethling
2008). Google manages Google AdWords, Yahoo! has Yahoo! Search Marketing, while
Bing runs Microsoft AdCentre. Companies can place bids for search terms at their pre-
ferred PPC search engine. When a user now enters this search term, the search engine will
display the companies’ website links in a given order that equals their rank for that specific
term. The ranking sequence is determined by the customer bid price times the (Google)
quality score for that page. The bid represents the amount of money the company is pre-
pared to pay the search engine every time a user clicks on the link to its website on the
SERP (Neethling 2008).
2.4. Search Engine Optimization
The process of improving website visibility is referred to as SEO, which involves
designing or modifying websites in order to improve SERP ranking (George 2005). SEO
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278 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
can also be described as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a
website from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results for
targeted keywords (Anonymous 2008).
Usually, the earlier a website is presented in the search results or the higher it “ranks,”
the more searchers will visit that website. SEO can also target different kinds of search,
including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.
Within this context, according to Zhang and Dimitroff (2004):
Every Web publisher wants good Web page visibility in search engine results so as
to increase accessibility of their Web pages. Unfortunately, many websites have poor
visibility in search engine rankings or may not be listed at all due to various reasons.
There are many techniques available to achieve the visibility goal, and many of them result
from the way search engine algorithms operate. First, the SEO professional will develop
a list of keywords and/or phrases (Malaga 2008). The competitiveness of each term is
also determined, as well as how often each of the terms is used in search engines. The
second step is to get the website into the search engine index as quickly as possible. This
can be achieved by manually submitting the URLs to the search engines for consideration
(Weideman 2012). During the third step, the SEO professional manipulates the on-page
elements (such as metatags, page content, and site navigation) to make the website more
attractive to search engine crawlers (Malaga 2008).
The importance of ranking well in a SERP for queries on specific terms is undeniable
(Clay 2006a). Recent research on user behavior shows that 91% of users ultimately view
results only within the first three pages, and 67% of searchers look only at the first page of
search results (Weideman 2009). All this means that if a website is not on the first SERP,
only one third of viewers will continue viewing other pages. If the website is not in the top
30, it has almost no chance of being read by a user (Clay 2006a).
Organic SEO is still the most popular form of SEM according to SEMPO’s annual
State of Search Engine Marketing survey (Sherman 2007). Organic search listings out-
perform PPC listings three to one in click-through and are also known to achieve higher
conversion rates (Clay 2006b).
Weideman (2009) used three academic SEO models, namely the Binnedel,
Chambers, and Visser models, and combined them plus industry views to form the
Weideman model. This model ranks the elements that contribute to website visibility (both
positive and negative) according to a scoring scheme based on the four contributing factors
(see Figure 2).
2.5. Fat Head, Chunky Middle, and Long Tail
Popular search terms (those that experience at least 500 to 5000 searches per day)
make up less than 30% of the overall searches performed on the Web (see Figure 3). The
18.5% of searchers with the highest occurrence is known as the Fat Head. The next 11.5%
is termed the Chunky Middle, while the rightmost 70% is called the Long Tail, made up
from hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be performed on any given day
(Anonymous 2011). The long tail satisfies the majority of the world’s demand for infor-
mation through search engines. These search queries normally consist of four or more
keywords per search phrase (Anonymous 2011).
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SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGIES 279
Figure 2 The Weideman model: Relative magnitude of positive elements’ scores (Weideman 2009).
Figure 3 The Search Demand Curve (Anonymous 2011) (color figure available online).
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280 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
2.6. Dual-Strategy SEM Campaigns
With increasing use of the Web as a marketing tool, business owners are trying to
come to grips with new strategies to gain market share within the online environment.
Many of these business owners are not well versed with Web marketing tactics. Because of
this, it is difficult to choose the best strategy for their business growth.
SEO is very seldom part of an SEM campaign (Sen 2005). Even when assuming that
the implementation of SEO costs the same as investing in PPC, and the benefits include the
assurance of always being part of a user’s consideration set, SEO is still not the optimal
SEM strategy for website marketers. A possible explanation for this situation is provided
by Sen (2005). When the probability of being listed in the main results of a search engine
is high, any investment in SEO is redundant—high ranking will most likely be achieved
without it. On the other hand, there could be a low probability of ranking well in the organic
results. In this case, users could visit the sponsored links for this website. Investing in PPC
could therefore make economic sense.
In addition, if it is assumed that SEO costs more than PPC (Jarboe 2005, as cited by
Sen 2005), then PPC becomes much more attractive than SEO. Therefore, it should not be
surprising that SEO is not a part of a company’s SEM strategy. This outcome is supported
by the distribution of SEM dollars, which is biased toward PPC investments, and by the
fact that the websites of fewer than 10% of the Fortune Magazine top 100 companies use
SEO as part of their SEM strategy (Anonymous 2004, as cited by Sen 2005).
One of the major reasons for the quick adoption of the PPC strategy is that it is very
similar to a traditional paid advertisement strategy and business owners can manage such
campaigns on their own. SEO on the other hand requires a prerequisite set of skills to
ensure a website places within the top rankings on search engine results through various
on-site optimizations and off-site organic SEO strategies (Waltzer 2008). Another reason
why businesses may prefer PPC is that they have better control over the entire program and
they know exactly how and where their investment is spent. Results can easily be viewed
through PPC campaign reports. They also do not have to change their tactics each time the
search engines change their algorithms, which can prove to be a problem, especially for
those who are only interested in quick, short-term results. Organic SEO might seem like
too much effort, with no guaranteed results for short-term goal seekers (Waltzer 2008).
Organic SEO, as a Web marketing strategy, requires patience. However, the rewards
are there. Organic optimization is not the first choice for many (depending on the brand
and business model), but it does have inherent benefits that are unparalleled by sponsored
or paid advertising tactics. The benefits and results last for longer periods than for PPC
(Waltzer 2008).
While a PPC campaign can deliver leads with relative ease, it can be a money drain
and has no longevity—once the online marketer stops investing in PPC, the resulting
website traffic disappears. SEO and link building require much more creative effort, but
can have more sustainable results. It also allows a business to target a larger base of users,
as most studies reveal that 75%–80% of searchers click on organic listings as opposed to
paid listings (Waltzer 2008).
In the past, Web surfers did not understand the difference between sponsored and
organic results. Over time, as Web surfers have become more Web literate, a growing num-
ber of users click on organic links on the first page of results. This is attributed to their
argument that if a website makes it into the top 10 without paying for it, it should be one of
the best websites available to match the original search query (Waltzer 2008).
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SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGIES 281
3. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
Given the foregoing background, it is clear that some contradictions exist in terms
of spending on SEO and/or PPC for a given website. One author claims that spending
on SEO does not make financial sense, while others have proven that more users click
on organic than on PPC results. The investigation reported here examines whether or not
website owners who have invested in PPC, also invest in SEO.
4. METHODOLOGY
This research project uses an empirical field/natural experimental design. According
to Mouton (2003), the definition of this kind of research design is:
Studies that are usually quantitative in nature and which aim to provide a broad overview
of a representative sample of a large population.
For the purpose of this research, we investigate only SEO and PPC. An experiment is con-
ducted to test whether or not website owners in the sample, who invested in PPC marketing,
also did so for SEO.
Thirteen industry categories were selected as defined in Google’s directories. These
categories are:
rBeauty & Personal Care
rComputers
rConsumer Electronics
rFamily & Community
rFinance
rFood
rGifts & Occasions
rHome & Garden
rHobbies & Leisure
rReal Estate
rSport & Fitness
rTravel & Tourism
rVehicles
Next, a large number of experimental searches were done to gather data. Although only one
set of results is noted and shown (due to the large volume of results), the data of all searches
across all 13 categories were used in this study. Two search queries were generated for each
of the 13 categories: one a Fat Head search phrase (short, wider and less focused—the key-
phrase consists of at most two keywords) and the other a Long Tail key-phrase (longer,
more focused and specific—the key-phrase consists of at least four keywords). The Fat
Head queries for each of the categories were then entered separately in Google. In each
instance the 10 websites that invested in PPC were identified from the SERP results, and
recorded. A search was then performed to test whether these same websites also had an
organic listing within the top 100 results for the Fat Head key-phrases. The results are
recorded (e.g., as in column A of Table 1).
After the Fat Head search queries were executed and recorded (both PPC and SEO
results), an additional search was conducted, this time using the Long Tail key-phrases.
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282 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
Tab le 1 Extract of results––travel & tourism.
Fat Head search query: “cheap flights”
Long Tail keyword: “cheap flights from Cape Town to
Durban”
AB B A
PPC results
Fat Head SEO
results
Long Tail
SEO results PPC results
Long Tail SEO
results
Fat Head SEO
results
1 www.flymango.com N/A 27 www.flymango.com 27 N/A
2 www.travelstart.co.za N/A 21 www.travelstart.co.za 21 N/A
3 www.sacheapflights.co.za N/AN/A www.travelonline.co.za N/AN/A
4 www.virgin-atlantic.com/
flights
N/AN/A www.britishairways.
com/za
N/AN/A
5 www.airfrance.com/
london
N/AN/A www.kulula.com 51 N/A
6 www.britishairways.com N/AN/A www.cheapflight
stocapetown.co.za
N/AN/A
7 www.lowfares.com/
cheap-flights
87 N/A www.pricecheck.co.za 11 N/A
8 www.kulula.com N/A 51 www.qatarairways.com N/AN/A
9 www.bookflights-travel-
sa.co.za
N/AN/A www.tripbase.com/
durban-flights
15 N/A
10 www.flights.
travelsupermarket.co.za
7N/A www.emirates.com/za N/AN/A
The 10 websites that invested in PPC were recorded. We then performed the search again,
this time with the Long Tail key-phrases, to see if the 10 websites that invested in PPC had
natural listings within the top 100 of the search results. Results were recorded (e.g., column
B in Table 1).
Finally, we perform a cross check, meaning that the PPC websites that were generated
by the Fat Head key-phrases were checked to see whether they have organic results for the
Long Tail key-phrases. Results were recorded. Finally, we checked the PPC websites that
were generated by the Long Tail key-phrases to see whether they have organic results for
the Fat Head key-phrases. Results were recorded.
5. RESULTS
Due to the large volume the recorded results occupy, an extract only is provided here.
See Table 1 for an example of the results of two searches recorded for the Travel & Tourism
category.
The websites were then tested to see if they had Fat Head and Long Tail keyword
SEO results. Originally, there were 13 industry sectors. For each one, two key-phrases were
defined, for a total of 26 key-phrases. For each sector key-phrase, the top 10 PPC results
were recorded, yielding 260 PPC results. These 260 results were then checked to see if
they had SEO listings for both Fat Head and Long Tail key-phrases in the top 100 search
engine results. Websites that had no SEO results were marked as N/A. All N/A results were
removed from the result tables and a new table was compiled, yielding Table 2. The top half
shows all websites that have PPC results for Fat Head keywords. These websites were then
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SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING STRATEGIES 283
Tab le 2 Results without N/A.
SEO results
Fat Head PPC Fat Head Long Tail
1 www.Oracle.com/SiebelCRM 3 44 19
2 www.SAP.com/CRM 10 43 6
3 www.bidorbuy.co.za//babyroomfurniture 3 N/A8
4 www.carinsurance.co.za/quotes 6 80 8
5 www.insurancejunction.co.za 7 N/A21
6 www.johannesburg.gumtree.co.za 1 N/A13
7 www.privateproperty.co.za/rentals 2 N/A1
8 www.arkinflatables.com 1 98 N/A
9 www.seaeagle.com 2 3 N/A
Long Tail PPC Fat Head Long Tail
1 www.oracle.com/siebelCRM 3 44 19
2 www.sap.com/crm 7 43 6
3 www.bidorbuy.co.za 1 N/A8
4 www.firstforwomen.co.za 1 N/A1
5 www.carinsurance.co.za/quotes 3 N/A8
6 www.insurancehound.co.za 4 80 47
7 www.insurancejunction.co.za 6 N/A21
8 www.floorsdirect.co.za/gauteng 1 87 1
9 www.privateproperty.co.za/johannesburg 2 N/A1
10 www.propertygenie.co.za 5 N/A76
11 www.gumtree.co.za 6 N/A16
12 www.arkinflatables.com 5 98 N/A
13 www.seaeagle.com 6 3 N/A
14 www.nauticexpo.com 9 N/A65
tested to see if they had SEO results for both Fat Head and Long Tail keywords. The second
half of the table shows all websites that have PPC results for Long Tail keywords.
6. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
From Table 1, when a user searches for the keyword “cheap flights,” the website
Flymango is listed in first place in the PPC results. However, Flymango has no SEO results
for the same key-phrase. But when a user searches for “cheap flights from cape town to
Durban,” the Flymango website earns an SEO position of 27 and a first place position in
the PPC results. From Table 2, it is clear that for all the websites with both PPC and SEO,
the results are better for Long Tail key-phrases. When implementing a dual strategy, the
website owner should be careful not to cannibalize his or her budget. It could happen that
users click through to the website via the PPC results (instead of from the free SEO result
listing) with the consequence that the website owner must pay for that click.
Results show that, for both Fat Head and Long Tail key-phrases, very few websites
that invest in PPC have organic listings within the top 100. This finding confirms the state-
ment by Sen (2005) that online marketers very seldom use SEO as part of a SEM campaign.
Even when assuming that the implementation of SEO costs the same as investing in PPC,
and the benefits include the assurance of always being part of a user’s consideration set,
SEO is still not the optimal SEM strategy for website marketers.
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284 KRITZINGER AND WEIDEMAN
However, in a recent survey conducted on the website Search Engine Land a very
different picture is portrayed (Sullivan 2011). Out of 254 respondents, 20 (7.9%) said that
they use only PPC, while 93 (36.6%) said that they only use SEO. The remaining 141
(55.5%) said they use both SEO and PPC. This seems to point to a contradiction on the
respective popularities of SEO and PPC. However, Sullivan’s survey was hosted on the
Search Engine Land website, whose readership consists mainly of SEM practitioners who
understand the importance of both SEO and PPC. Given that the audience of Search Engine
Land is mainly SEM practitioners, and not necessarily Marketing Managers of companies,
the contentions made by Waltzer (2008) are supported. One of the major reasons for quick
adoption of the PPC strategy is that it is very similar to traditional paid advertisement
strategies and business owners or marketing managers can manage such campaigns on their
own.
Many of the companies that invest in PPC do not necessarily have the skill/training to
implement SEO on their own. They must outsource this to SEM companies that do this on
their behalf. Some website owners have heard of SEO before, but do not know what it is or
what benefits it could have for their websites. Until they do, the logical way for them to get
traffic to their website quickly and effectively will remain traditional advertising methods
like radio, newspaper, fliers, and brochures, plus PPC.
This study contributes to the existing body of knowledge in the field of SEM by
providing evidence that SEM expenditure in an unbalanced way seems to be the norm.
It then confirms that both SEO and PPC are required for maximum website exposure.
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AUTHOR BIOS
W. T. Kritzinger is pursuing a doctoral degree, contrasting Search Engine Optimization
and Pay-per-Click as means to achieve overall website visibility. His dissertation specif-
ically focuses on the role webpage keywords play in website visibility. He is currently
employed as Senior Search Engine Optimization Consultant at R.O.I. Media, one of the
most authoritative South African digital agencies. Mr. Kritzinger holds a Master’s degree
in Business Information Systems from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in
Cape Town.
M. Weideman is Professor and Department Head for the Faculty of Informatics and Design
at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, where he also heads a Research
Centre on website visibility and usability. Holding a doctorate in Information Science from
the University of Cape Town, he focuses on research into website visibility, usability, search
engines, and information retrieval. Professor Weideman has produced many publications
in journals and conference proceedings on these topics, plus a complete monograph on
website visibility. He regularly does invited plenaries at international conferences, and has
delivered guest lectures at such universities as Oxford, Columbia, Technische Universitat
München, Vrije Universiteit, and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt.
In 2007, he was selected to become the first Fellow at the Munich University of Applied
Sciences. Dr. Weideman closely co-operates with the Search Engine Optimization industry.
He is a founding member and Chairman of Whitehatters SA, a non-profit organization
whose mission is to develop and maintain an environment in which SEO practitioners,
academics, customers, students, and others can interact in a positive way.
Downloaded by [Cape Peninsula University of Technology], [Melius Weideman] at 03:42 03 December 2014
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Digital Marketing strategies are sets of controllable e-marketing variables that organizations combine to achieve marketing goals and to meet customers’ needs. These strategies are the most important factors that electronic-marketing managers pay attention to the best strategy in order to achieve sales and profitability. This study aims to investigate the effect of these strategies on the buying behavior of customers in online shopping stores in Tehran. For this purpose, five best-selling online stores in Tehran are selected and 79 samples are taken from each of them. For data collection, a 2-tuple fuzzy linguistic representation model is used in order to no lose the linguistic information obtained from customers. For data analyzing and extracting proper rules, two approaches of the rough set theory are used. Based on the results provided by Rosetta software, five rules governing customer behavior are identified as the most important factors affecting buying behavior in online shopping. To evaluate the result, a comparison is carried out between the extracted rules using the proposed rough set technique and the tree diagram of the data obtained by Rapidminer software. Almost all provided rules are confirmed through this comparison along with the opinions of experts. Some of key results according to the obtained rules indicate that the most important digital marketing strategy is the search engine optimization. Moreover, the social media marketing and recommender engine play as second important issue of the marketing management.
Conference Paper
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The primary objective of this research project was to investigate and report on the importance of keywords as a ranking factor for e-Commerce websites. An e-Commerce website needs to attract visitors and the website designer needs to ensure the website is visible to search engines. Websites that are not ranked highly by search engines are less likely to be visited by potential customers. Users tend to examine only the first page of search results and once they find a good match for their search, they normally do not look further down the list. Most search engines display only 10 to 20 of the most relevant results on the first page. Thus, it is important to understand how search engines use the information contained on websites to index and rank them in their databases. Several key pieces of information are being used by search engines to list and rank a website, namely: webpage title, META keyword tag, META description tag, text on the webpage and keyword density. Every one of these elements involves keywords in one way or another. The methods employed in this project include the review of literature and secondly, empirical work has been done to determine whether or not the relative location of a keyword within the "body area" of a webpage has any bearing on its ranking. Results seem to indicate that more weight is attached to keywords appearing towards the beginning of a webpage. In some cases it appeared as if a webpage is penalized in terms of ranking if important keywords appear in the centre or at the bottom of the page.
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The primary objective of this research project was to identify and investigate the website usability attributes which are in contradiction with search engine optimisation elements. The secondary objective was to determine if these usability attributes affect conversion. Although the literature review identifies the contradictions, experts disagree about their existence.An experiment was conducted, whereby the conversion and/or traffic ratio results of an existing control website were compared to a usability-designed version of the control website,namely the experimental website. All optimisation elements were ignored, thus implementing only usability. The results clearly show that inclusion of the usability attributes positively affect conversion,indicating that usability is a prerequisite for effective website design. Search engine optimisation is also a prerequisite for the very reason that if a website does not rank on the first page of the search engine result page for a given keyword, then that website might as well not exist. According to this empirical work, usability is in contradiction to search engine optimisation best practices. Therefore the two need to be weighed up in terms of importance towards search engines and visitors.
Book
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The quest to achieve high website rankings in search engine results is a prominent subject for both academics and website owners/coders. Website Visibility marries academic research results to the world of the information practitioner and contains a focused look at the elements which contribute to website visibility, providing support for the application of each element with relevant research. A series of real-world case studies with tested examples of research on website visibility elements and their effect on rankings are reviewed. Written by a well-respected academic and practitioner in the field of search engines. Provides practical and real-world guidance for real-world situations. Based on actual research in the field, which is often used to confirm or refute beliefs in the industry.
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The primary objective of this research project was to identify and investigate the website usability attributes which are in contradiction with search engine optimisation elements. The secondary objective was to determine if these usability attributes affect conversion. Although the literature review identifies the contradictions, experts disagree about their existence.An experiment was conducted, whereby the conversion and/or traffic ratio results of an existing control website were compared to a usability-designed version of the control website,namely the experimental website. All optimisation elements were ignored, thus implementing only usability. The results clearly show that inclusion of the usability attributes positively affect conversion,indicating that usability is a prerequisite for effective website design. Search engine optimisation is also a prerequisite for the very reason that if a website does not rank on the first page of the search engine result page for a given keyword, then that website might as well not exist. According to this empirical work, usability is in contradiction to search engine optimisation best practices. Therefore the two need to be weighed up in terms of importance towards search engines and visitors.
Chapter
In this chapter, the authors discuss at length the subject of search engine optimization (SEO), its different characteristics, and why basic SEO knowledge is considered as a useful tool for any web business. The chapter will address both the theoretical and practical issues related to the design and implementation of SEO and also will cover previous research done on this topic. In order to give a better understanding of the importance of SEO in the current state of the internet and in information search, basic knowledge of how search engines operate along with their recent updates will also be provided. The development of World Wide Web (Web 2.0) along with the growth of search engines over the last decade has brought significant changes in web content. In this context, the authors show how SEO has evolved over the years. Nowadays, social media and social signals have increasingly become one of the many factors search engines take seriously into account, which is another issue that this chapter will address.
Thesis
With over a billion Internet users surfing the Web daily in search of information, buying, selling and accessing social networks, marketers focus intensively on developing websites that are appealing to both the searchers and the search engines. Millions of webpages are submitted each day for indexing to search engines. The success of a search engine lies in its ability to provide accurate search results. Search engines’ algorithms constantly evaluate websites and webpages that could violate their respective policies. For this reason some websites and webpages are subsequently blacklisted from their index. Websites are increasingly being utilised as marketing tools, which result in major competition amongst websites. Website developers strive to develop websites of high quality, which are unique and content rich as this will assist them in obtaining a high ranking from search engines. By focusing on websites of a high standard, website developers utilise search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies to earn a high search engine ranking. From time to time SEO practitioners abuse SEO techniques in order to trick the search engine algorithms, but the algorithms are programmed to identify and flag these techniques as spamdexing. Search engines do not clearly explain how they interpret keyword stuffing (one form of spamdexing) in a webpage. However, they regard spamdexing in many different ways and do not provide enough detail to clarify what crawlers take into consideration when interpreting the spamdexing status of a website. Furthermore, search engines differ in the way that they interpret spamdexing, but offer no clear quantitative evidence for the crossover point of keyword dense website text to spamdexing. Scholars have indicated different views in respect of spamdexing, characterised by different keyword density measurements in the body text of a webpage. This raised several fundamental questions that form the basis of this research. This research was carried out using triangulation in order to determine how the scholars, search engines and SEO practitioners interpret spamdexing. Five websites with varying keyword densities were designed and submitted to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Two phases of the experiment were done and the results were recorded. During both phases almost all of the webpages, including the one with a 97.3% keyword density, were indexed. The aforementioned enabled this research to conclusively disregard the keyword stuffing issue, blacklisting and any form of penalisation. Designers are urged to rather concentrate on usability and good values behind building a website. The research explored the fundamental contribution of keywords to webpage indexing and visibility. Keywords used with or without an optimum level of measurement of richness and poorness result in website ranking and indexing. However, the focus should be on the way in which the end user would interpret the content displayed, rather than how the search engine would react towards the content. Furthermore, spamdexing is likely to scare away potential clients and end users instead of embracing them, which is why the time spent on spamdexing should rather be used to produce quality content.
Article
Over the past few years, more and more Internet visitors are reaching websites through search engines rather than through direct links from another web page. Search engines have come to occupy a prominent position in the online world and are being used to find all kinds of information including things, events, people, and places. The search engine is also coming to play a greater role as a critical link between firms that use the Internet to build their image and find their target customers. How to achieve a high ranking in such search results given certain search words or phrases has become an issue of much interest in Internet marketing. The purpose of the current study is to develop a search engine optimization (SEO) mechanism that can be used by an enterprise to improve the ranking of its website in the search engine results. Social networking sites are included in our exploration of Internet marketing strategy. The proposed mechanism is then applied in the operations of an online ebook store. The website rankings obtained from two well‐known online search engines (Google and Yahoo) are evaluated in efforts to explore a better strategy to ensure higher rankings. The results reveal that a well‐designed SEO strategy, with the incorporation of social networking, can effectively enhance the website's visibility and exposure. Such a strategy will eventually contribute to overall site traffic and improve interaction with customers. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Buyers using search engines to look for information tend to trust and follow links displayed in the editorial section of the search-results page. Most on-line sellers, however, do not invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to get higher search-results rankings for their listings, but instead prefer paid placements. They explain that SEO is more expensive than paid placements, produces results that do not justify its cost, and does not consistently lead to high search-results rankings. This implies that sellers would invest in SEO if it were less expensive and its rankings were more consistent. However, even if SEO and paid placement cost the same, and SEO always produced high rankings, paid placement would still be the search engine marketing (SEM) strategy of choice for most on-line sellers. Interestingly, no optimal SEM strategy includes SEO. These findings are especially significant for advertising professionals who have to justify investing in paid placements despite overwhelming evidence that buyers ignore them and follow links in the editorial section of the search-results page.
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Purpose – Smaller companies must continually review the pay-per-click (PPC) option or an organic listing on search engines. The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of a small manufacturing firm that is beginning to evaluate which search engine, Yahoo or Google, is more cost effective. Ultimately, management would like to identify if PPC advertising is worth the cost to a small company. Design/methodology/approach – A one month's section of data from Yahoo and Google was examined. Patterns or indications as to which key word landed a better bid position was determined. Seven consecutive campaigns for click-through rates (CTRs), average cost per click (CPC) and average position of keywords between the search engines Yahoo and Google were observed. Findings – The average CPC was higher with Google. Kennedy Incorporated set a budget with Google and Yahoo to stay below a certain dollar limit, thus the total costs were the same. That would make the difference in the average CPC rather significant. Management also noticed a higher CTR on Yahoo than on Google. Thus it appears that Yahoo outperformed Google most of the time in the monthly samples. Research limitations/implications – Longer historical data need to be studied, to see if these patterns continue. Other statistics that would be interesting to examine are data that would reveal how CTR in Yahoo and Google are affecting conversions to sales. Originality/value – It appears from this data that Yahoo is outperforming Google for Kennedy Incorporated with a better CTR and a lower variance in average position when listed on the screen by a return from a search. The company has the impression that Yahoo is a better company for PPC advertising when the marketing budget is small.
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Librarians have traditionally helped users meet their information needs by providing access to vetted sources. This changed when Internet access to the Web was introduced into the library service equation. While users now have access to more information than ever before, they must rely on search engines to retrieve and rank the results of their searches before research can begin. A problem with ranked retrieval is that many search engines participate in the practice of pay-for-placement advertising, which can affect the order of ranking, and may not be apparent as advertising. This practice introduces a new variation in the relationship between user and advertiser that has not existed in libraries before.