Top 10 Reasons SEO Rocks: "SEO is Dead" Is Dead

The death knell for search engine optimization (SEO) rings so often and so loud, sometimes intelligent marketers can't hear themselves think. The latest: "SEO Deadheads" claim personalization is pushing SEOs out the door. Others cry the complexity of universal search, or any number of innovations by the search engines, now makes effective SEO impossible.

Wrong. SEO remains one of the best investments any marketer can make.

Most folks would hold firm to the reason they do SEO: drive relevant traffic to their sites. They hope this relevant traffic will result in more leads and/or more sales. Those are great reasons (and will be part of this list), but there's a lot more to consider. A whole lot more.

Five reasons SEO rocks PPC:

10. PPC and CPC: Not Your Lenin’s CCCP: Paid Search, AKA PPC or pay-per-click search marketing, is no communist manifesto. Online marketing's ultimate expression of capitalism may be the pay-per-click auction. It's as close to a free market free-for-all as you can get, with one exception: marketers buy their way into the GYM (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) and Ask, as well as other major search engines.

So PPC isn't really a free-for-all. It's a "free-for-none."

Companies, large and small, jump into the pay-per-click arena due to its simplicity. It's easy to choose keywords and bid, bid, bid.

The benefits: advertisers set a monthly budget, choose the text (or creative), and choose landing pages that show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

The downside: the rules of paid search are so simple, playing is easy. Many, many companies are already in the game. The more companies involved in the auction, the higher the CPC (cost-per-click) and, in general, the lower the chance for a significant ROI (return on investment).

Moreover, when budget runs out for a given month, advertisers may lose their presence in the search engines.

With organic SEO, Web sites can -- and do -- show up 24/7/365. While SEO can’t “guarantee” any site owner high rankings in search results, you can spread your presence across a multitude of keywords. As long as sites have pages/content to support selected keywords, SEO can deliver a more consistent presence across all the major search engines.

9. High Cost of Competitive Keywords: If your traffic-driving keywords are highly competitive, "buying" a regular presence on the major search engines may be cost-prohibitive. Outsourced SEO may provide the presence you're looking for at a fraction of the cost. If that's an option you'd like to explore, make sure the firms you interview devise a solid strategy to get you where you want to go. Again, though, there are no guarantees in SEO. But, over time, with a diligent plan, some great things can be accomplished.

Companies must measure the success of SEO campaigns by hard metrics: growth in targeted organic search traffic; increased number of leads; or increases in sales volume, for example. Many clients and prospects, though, tend to gravitate to ranking reports to see how their presence has increased or decreased against a given set of monitored keywords.

8. Ad Blockers Tackle PPC Ads: I was reading this week, in Advertising Age, about Adblock Plus, which blocks not only pop-ups and banners, but paid search ads as well. No question; some people just want the editorial. With organic SEO, you’re there. If you think about the adoption rate of pop-up blockers (who, reading this article, doesn’t already have them installed?), then you might want to be a little concerned about the adoption rate of ad blockers now tackling paid search. Certainly, search ads are often relevant and mostly unobtrusive (in my view). However, consider the number of people who download ad blockers and enable the "block all ads” function. Something to think about.

7. Organic Clicks Rule, Naturally: No matter what study you believe -- and there are many -- a great deal of evidence shows that more people click on organic results than paid placements. Some studies suggest around 60 percent of searchers click on organic results. Others indicate the percentage is much higher. In any event, organic results get the majority of the clicks, which means organic gets you the best results.

6. Search Engine "Seal of Approval"? No search engine gives a seal of approval or endorses any companies that come up in organic search results. Nor do search engine endorse companies that advertise in their paid-search networks. However, when your site ranks high in search engine results, there's a strong case for user perception of "implied endorsement." When you advertise in paid search, many -- if not most -- searchers realize you've paid to get your Web site in the sponsored listings. With organic SEO, the user will likely believe in the ability of the search engine indexing to deliver relevant results.

There's an unspoken consensus that if a search engine ranks your site as relevant, you must be a leader in your field.

Next week: The Final Four Plus One when I'll name an undisputed champion. My next Top 5? Written in stone and locked in a vault. If anyone in the SEO community can beat any one of my final contenders, I'll knock mine out and put yours at the "Top of the Top 10" SEO Rocks list.

About the author

Mark Jackson, President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, a search engine optimization company. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000. His journey began with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL/Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front (learning that working for a "large company" does not guarantee you a position, no matter your job performance), Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.

Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, SEO friendly Web design/development, social media marketing, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.

Mark is a board member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the SES and Pubcon conferences.

Mark received a BA in Journalism/Advertising from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."

Read more of Mark Jackson's columns at ClickZ.