SEO Platform Looks Toward PPC For Business Model

Enquisite wants to advance search engine optimization (SEO) in a similar fashion to the leap Google made for pay-for-click (PPC) advertising. The software provider Tuesday will release a platform dubbed Campaign aimed at SEO and interactive agencies and advertisers.

Campaign allows search marketers to manage, track, report, and theoretically, improve organic rankings to realize the full economic potential of organic search. While advertisers and publishers understand the importance of high rankings in organic search results, investments in SEO have dwarfed budgets for PPC campaigns.

Advertisers tend to hold back on investments until they can quantify the return. Mark Hoffman, chairman and CEO of Enquisite, says PPC takes about 12% of the clicks verses 88% for organic, though companies tend to invest more in PPC than organic search.

Five companies have been testing the platform, which went into beta mid January. Hoffman says the biggest challenge is breaking into the market, "talking to agencies about these new capabilities and pay-per-performance business model."

SEO has been difficult to measure, but Hoffman says the performance-based model puts a value on keywords. Enquisite turned organic search into a science and built a business model around it to highlight the most important keywords, how to optimize them, and change them regularly to drive as much traffic as possible from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines to the Web site.

Agencies and advertisers work together to assign values to key results they can measure such as search referrals and clicks, links referrals, predefined actions like capture a name or download a brochure, and purchases or transactional conversions.

Proprietary algorithms in Enquisite Campaign provide visibility into the best performing keywords to minimize risks and maximize returns, according to Hoffman. For example, the application suggests keywords with the highest potential. It identifies keywords driving traffic to the site and those that have the potential to boost traffic in the long term.

The demand for SEO has become stronger than paid search. Many companies want to appear in organic rankings because they learned it's far less expensive, and in many cases, nearly free. "Organic listings tend to get clicked on more often," says Gordon Borrell, CEO at research firm Borrell Associates, who doesn't see many companies organize SEO similar to Enquisite. "There are a bunch of boutique shops offering SEO, but unfortunately they tend to make them up on the fly."

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