There has been much talk recently in the search engine marketing industry about the relative value of Organic (free) search engine positions versus Sponsored (paid) results, especially in the terms of the cost associated to manage the efforts. This topic has been covered extensively, in case you somehow missed it, but the most recent thorough coverage can be found with all parties involved in the comments at Search Engine Land and Greg Boser's less word-mincing WebGuerilla Blog. (Nice "clueless" subdomain, Greg ;)) Barry originally covered this topic at SER.
One thing that has been common but a little more in the background on this subject is the direct value of Organic versus Paid results when it comes to conversions. A recent thread at WebmasterWorld Forums discusses this slant in more detail, with the thread starter asking:
If I was in the business of selling products, say if I was Amazon dot com, as an example. Would you want to be in #1 in Google PPC position or #1 Organic position? (lets assume the PPC is free for this argument)Plenty of responses follow, with people debating the value of the listings purely in terms of conversion ability.
This year will likely yield some more thorough research into the effect of having multiple types of listings within search results, but if looking at search holistically it is very likely that the higher number of listings one has for a popular and converting keyword phrase, the better chances of reaching the end goal. One member details:
For some of most competitive keywords we have multiple sites in "free" top 10 and 3 or 4 in PPC... competing against ourselves... So pretty much whatever visitor would click, they'll end up at the "right place". This kind of enterprise is costing a very high price, naturally...
Join the discussion at WebmasterWorld Forums.