Organic Listings: The Basis for a Sound Business Model?

Sep 12, 2006 • 12:48 pm | comments (5) by twitter | Filed Under Web Promotion

Appearing within the top pages of search engine results is very important to many businesses, which is the main reason behind the tremendous growth in Search Advertising and Search Engine Optimization. Since the top page listings are a mix of paid and organic (free or "merit") listings, it is possible to achieve multiple positions. Brand name searches aside, it is generally accepted that it is harder to achieve the organic listings, and they are certainly volatile in nature. One month of top listings can easily give way to a month or more of less-than desirable exposure.

A 100+ post thread at WebMasterWorld that started a few weeks ago asks the question Is It Realistic To Base A Business Around Free SERPs? Excellent discussion follows, including some of the following statements:

It would seem unwise to build a business on something that may some day disappear through no fault of your own. Some might say that a business model which relies on free traffic is no business model at all.
Simon in the UK reminds us that this is a reality that many business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs must face:
I have a pretty successful online-only mail order company. I, like many others, was suddenly dropped from Google one day. It comes and it goes. I use PPC to see me through the good and bad times...I also started a 4 day a week job at the beginning of the year because I wanted the security that if the database died, site died or I was dropped totally from search engines I still had an income to pay the mortgage and feed the kids.
One member revived the thread on 9/2 with the statement that
It's funny .. here recently I shut down all advertising for three days (to make sure there weren't residual ads running)... just to see just what our natural search results brought in...
This thread is an important read for anyone that is considering dumping other marketing, including paid search, thanks to current success in the organic listings. Read the long thread at WebMasterWorld Forums.

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09/12/2006 05:59 pm

That's a dangerous game to play with an online business. A smart investor wouldn't put all of his money into one stock. Why would a smart business owner put all of their marketing efforts into something that has the potential to fall off the planet?

Chris Beasley

09/12/2006 07:38 pm

The core issue here really is diversification. Relying on one revenue or traffic source is a bad idea no matter what that source may be. One thing I recommend heavily to ecommerce site owners is to build a community around their site, either on their site or with a whole new site. This gives you a little bit of traffic insurance because even if the outside traffic sources, whatever they may be, dry up you still have your community members to market to.

TJ Cooper

09/12/2006 11:11 pm

I think that the serp are a great place for the cash strapped beginers to start making his or her mark as they build the cash and the experience picking keywords and Identifiying markets to target via paid search. Also I wonder like jeremy said " this is a dagerous game to play" wouldn't that be the same for those who rely on web advertising only? Maybe the small business owner should consider a more multi facited approach to market development: i.e. offline direct marketing, widgets, postcard campaigns?


09/13/2006 01:04 am

In order to get a top ranking you need under normal circumstances many links pointing to your side. If these links are 'organic links', wouldn't they drive some traffic as well? On the other hand, if you invested time and probably money to get all the links you needed to get your pagerank up, the traffic isn't rally 'free'.

SEO Consultant

08/19/2011 09:54 am

Dangerous trying to  play with rocket science in online business. However PPC somehow can help to drive in that much needed traffic though many will lose their arm and leg if they are not ppc savvies.

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