SEO or PPC – The Choice Is Yours

This article is contributed by Cory Collins

Often in the search engine optimization (SEO) world, people assume we should have an abiding hatred of pay per click (PPC) advertisements, twirling our moustaches and plotting its inevitable downfall. However, this isn’t at all true.

clash between seo and ppc

It’s commonly assumed that online retailers, business owners, bloggers, etc. – basically anyone who wants to boost traffic to their site – would only use either SEO or PPC. Never both. This basic assumption immediately creates a tension and struggle within the search engine marketing (SEM) world where truly there is no need. Let me explain both these terms a little more, and then why I believe there’s no need for this one or the other, SEO vs. PPC mindset.

PPC

Both SEO and PPC aim to affect the search engine results pages (SERPs). How they go about that is quite opposite, however.

Pay per click ads are the ads that show up when you search for popular keyword terms. For example, if you search Google for ‘San Francisco Hotel’, then ads will appear in the top two results – bolded in yellow – and down the right hand side, in a column next to the organic results.

These ads are commonly referred to as PPC because Google charges the company advertising through the ad a flat rate per click, known as the cost per click (CPC). This cost is determined largely based upon the popularity of the keyword, and is then purchased auction style.

PPC campaigns are often great at providing an instant surge in traffic, as your website is immediately brought to the top (or side) of the front page SERPs, for as long as you can afford it.

SEO works in an opposite manner, aiming to raise the company up into a higher listing within the organic results.

SEO

SEO is the science – or art, depending upon who you talk to – of fully optimizing your website, content, and keywords to rank well with Google’s algorithm. SEO also relies heavily upon link building, getting other websites’ ‘vote of confidence’ by linking to your own website. By gaining these, you’re more likely to be featured higher in the organic results, which can greatly increase your website’s traffic.

The drawback here is that SEO is more of a snowball effect; it takes time to ramp up, but every piece put into place will forever have an effect on the search results. PPC on the other hand only lasts until the funding is cut, killing off any recent upswings in traffic your website was experiencing.

Organic results also get a higher click through rate (CTR) than PPC ads as well. Basically, most people know that the ads are ads, and generally avoid them unless looking for something very specific (a hotel in San Francisco, for example).

Why Not One or the Other?

Although it is more expensive to use SEO and PPC in conjunction, as opposed to one or the other, it is by far the best way to obtain results. This is because of the opposite ways in which PPC and SEO function.

First, by obtaining PPC right away, you can bring in immediate traffic. This is particularly effective if your website is new and fresh or you’re having a sale, promotion, give away, etc.

By working SEO in conjunction with a PPC campaign, you’ll be able to focus on the long term traffic flow to your website while ensuring an immediate boost as well.

SEO can also directly benefit from PPC campaigns. For example, PPC campaigns are a great way to test which keywords have great conversion rates. This ability to quickly and directly test conversion rates ensures you’re using the most effective keywords possible, which can have a dramatic effect on your SEO.

PPC is also typically less expensive if you’re already higher in the SERPs for the keyword you’re purchasing.

Furthermore, search engine users typically view companies that are listed in both organic search results and PPC ads as more credible, as they’re appearing in two different sources.

At the end of the day SEO and PPC are completely different strategies targeting the same goal: increased traffic via search engines. Both can be extremely effective. Both have different ways of achieving the same goal. Using both in conjunction can yield increased results.

So, there’s no need to think of SEO versus PPC. Analyze your goals and decide what will best suit your needs. Or, if you have the budget and want an extended SEM campaign, go with both.

Author Bio: Cory Collins is a writer who is passionate about white hat SEO, link building, and blogging. He is an online content producer for Page One Power, a relevancy first link building services company. They have an in-depth SEO link building blog full of free great information.

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3 thoughts on “SEO or PPC – The Choice Is Yours

  1. Great post Cory, it is true that people need to stop thinking in terms of PPC vs SEO. Both need different strategies, but both should complement each other and be able to feed of one another.

  2. We plan to combine both SEO and SEM. For a site like ours with almost no reputation we need to put our name on the map as soon as possible while we progressively evolve our SEO.

  3. Hey Malcolm and Rotulos,

    Thanks for leaving a comment! I think understanding the differences between PPC and SEO is important in utilizing them both most effectively.

    I hope the article helped highlight some of these and that there was good take away value. Best of luck!

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