Search engine optimization isn't free, of course. Skilled consultants charge hefty fees to refine on-page content criteria and build inbound link relationships with reliable Web sites elsewhere.
Perhaps because of that, the threshold of marketer acceptance still has a ways to go, SEOmoz's Fishkin said.
“It's a unique imbalance between marketing and IT,” he said. “SEO can be massively time-consuming and require a huge amount of insider knowledge. A marketer might not want to spend $50,000 during a recession on an SEO audit and a list of action items, but then the next day he'll spend $100,000 on paid search clicks.”
But an increased focus on natural search optimization is hard to ignore, in particular during hard economic times.
“With PPC you can have great efficiencies in buying keywords, but when the market goes down and your revenue per click goes down, the lifetime value of the campaign also goes down,” Fishkin said.
“Intelligent people stay on top of it and are seeing that SEO is the other side of the coin.” M