Optimal Search Engine Marketing Strategy

Ravi Sen
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 10, Number 1, Fall 2005, pp. 9.

Abstract: 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.

Key Words and Phrases: E-commerce, marketing, paid placement, search engine, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, sponsored link.