Recent conversations in the search engine marketing community point to a developing trend that is disturbing: the promotion of the idea that paid search is more valuable than search engine optimization, and visa-versa. Although there are many legitimate arguments on both sides of the discussion, some claims made by highly visible parties are darkening the waters of search. This could not be happening at a worse time, as more and more brand managers are looking towards search as an important part of the marketing mix.
In 2006, numerous research studies showed that paid and organic search, as well as the use of shopping feeds and paid inclusion programs, were highly rated by marketers employing them. Lee Oden compiled an excellent list of resources at his Top Rank Blog last September (found at www.toprankblog.com/2006/09/organic-versus-paid-search-results). A major takeaway from the research in this variety of reports is that both paid and organic search efforts lead to marketing satisfaction.