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So how do marketers achieve these positions in the search engine listings?
Like public relations or media relations programs, SEO campaigns take time to take hold, with success building steadily over several months. SEO is a new and detailed discipline requiring experts who invest heavily in constantly researching to stay abreast of the changes the search engines make to their algorithms that determine which sites get the highest rankings.
Also, like public relations, SEO is not a one-time event. Ongoing work is required to generate in-bound links from other sites, analyze the competitive environment, optimize new site content and make recommendations for improving performance through a variety of on and off-site programs.
SEA is a highly dynamic environment, with advertisers continually updating their bids, jockeying for position in the paid listings, and rewriting their ads to get a higher ROI. This means that you should be actively monitoring your ads, adjusting bids to maintain optimal positions (not just clicks, but conversions too) and suggesting copy changes on a regular basis to ensure your programs are delivering for you.
Here is a snapshot view of the SEO=PR/SEA=Advertising comparison that many marketers have found useful:
Studies repeatedly show that most consumers click on SEO results before they will click on paid ads (SEA) and that once SEO takes hold, for most categories it is more cost-effective than SEA.
That being said, many marketers are finding that SEA is great for launching or increasing a presence on the search engines and using it as a complement to their SEO programs.