Some Say SEO Brings Higher ROI, Others Can't Tell

Search marketers are not comparing their return on investment for search engine optimization versus pay-per-click advertising, according to a new study published by search marketing firm iProspect, Watertown, MA.

Researchers with iProspect and JupiterResearch, which conducted the survey of search marketers, were concerned that 14 percent of search marketers that outsource SEO said they were unable to distinguish between ROI for SEO and for paid search ads.

“The fact that organizations continue to invest in search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising without being able to measure the ROI of each is alarming,” said Naga Krothapalli, director of algorithmic search at iProspect. “If an organization cannot determine the ROI of a medium, how can they justify continued investment in the channel, to say nothing of increasing that investment?”

Other findings included that 35 percent of organizations said SEO produces higher ROI than search ads while 11 percent said SEO produces a lower ROI.

“Numerous studies … have found that search engine users find natural search results to be more relevant to their search engine queries,” the study said. “Savvy search marketers know this, and make the investment in outsourcing the management of their natural SEO to take advantage of this search engine user behavior.”

The study suggested that marketers outsource natural SEO efforts by: obtaining more funding for SEO, shifting budgets from underperforming offline ad channels or by shifting money from paid search ad campaigns to natural SEO campaigns.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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