I’m often asked what’s best to focus on: search engine optimization (SEO) to maximize organic search, paid search (pay-per-click or PPC) advertising, or a combination of the two. Each method has pros and cons. For instance:
SEO for Organic Search. On the plus side, organic search results are more visible and generally more trusted than PPC results. On the minus side, it can take a months for SEO to produce high rankings, and with competitive words, you may not get there at all. What’s more, it’s usually difficult to optimize for every single keyword that can bring you qualified traffic.
PPC Advertising. PPC advertising has a lot to recommend it. Results occur in days, even hours. Unlike SEO, you can control – and even test — the message delivered and the landing page visitors are sent to. Testing copy and landing pages with paid search can provide information that’s valuable in other marketing – including which search terms are most important to optimize for. Expanding to more keywords is limited only by your budget.
How Do Conversions Compare? I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the fence on this question. One recent study done by Marketing Sherpa showed that organic clicks converted at an average of 16% better than those from paid search – not as big a difference as most people expect.
I’ve also read reports of studies showing than using both SEO and PPC for the same search terms produces better results than either alone, although I’ve never tested it.
So, SEO or PPC? For most companies, they both have a place in the marketing plan.