Is PPC More Important to a New Site Than SEO?

The PPC vs. SEO Debate Continues

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In a recent article, we looked at a debate over what is better between search engine optimization and pay-per-click. Of course both should be used typically, but on a recent panel at SES Chicago, participants were asked to pick a side to highlight the benefits of each compared to the other. It made for some pretty interesting conversation.

Both SEO and PPC are important, but do you think one carries more weight than the other? Share your thoughts here.

That conversation extended into our comments. The general consensus seems to be that you should use both when possible, but that SEO is better for the long term, and PPC is better for quick results. These notions were backed up by both Michael Gray and Christine Churchill, who were on opposing sides of the debate at SES.

Gray and Churchill both shared their thoughts in more detail in two separate interviews for WebProNews. Gray noted that Google is making changes that could have some effect on the success of organic rankings. One of these changes is the introduction of personalized search to all Gooogle users. You no longer have to be signed in for Google to personalize your results, and that means it is much more important to get that first click from a user. Gray talks about this and the other change, being Google’s banning of AdWords advertisers with what he thinks is not the best communication.

Churchill elaborated on the usefulness of PPC to people who are just establishing themselves on the web. The reality is that SEO takes time, and while it is of great importance and provides long-term benefits, it is very hard to be competitive right out of the box.

When you have a brand new domain name, a new site, and no links, you’re probably going to have a hard time jumping up in the rankings for any competitive keywords. PPC lets you do it and start getting your ROI quickly. She also talked a little bit about flexibility vs. control between SEO and PPC.

Not everyone agrees that PPC should be used for a brand new site. One reader commented on our previous article:

SEO is an absolute must when dealing with new web sites. None of the search engines are going to rank you very high in the organic searches if you are not meeting their criteria. And…the Organic search results are 24 hours per day ads. Not so with PPC, unless you are dealing with an unlimited budget.

PPC should be used after SEO to target special sales, or services. It is a great way to help searchers locate your products when they are on sale, or your services when a special price can be obtained.

One thing to keep in mind, however, as Gray touched upon, and some other readers suggested, PPC can be used up front to help you determine the directions to take your SEO efforts in. You can use PPC quickly to determine what keywords convert better, and use that to your advantage in your optimization practices.

Do you think paid search is becoming increasingly important to marketing? Share your thoughts here.

Related Articles:

> Does an Organic Search Presence Help Paid Result Performance?

> Can You "Rank" in Google if Everyone Has Different Search Results?

> Optimizing for Mixed Media Search Results

Is PPC More Important to a New Site Than SEO?
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  • http://www.cotela.com Kevin

    Testing a new site and have found one of the fastest ways get anywhere with yahoo is join their PPC campaign. Other methods work slooow with Yahoo.

    • http://www.simplyclicks.com Simply Clicks

      Almost in all market categories there will be established websites with at least some optimisation in place. A combined approach using both PPC and SEO is best. Over time the importance of SEO increases. However, for a growing business ppc budgets should grow in line with volume and market share gains.

    • http://www.fixpcfreeze.com Mats

      To my knowledge, these giants do not take your site or improve your ranking just because you joined their PPC program. In fact, the PPC engine looks for your site’s value to the user and if your site is failing in the PPC engine or get slapped by PPC engine, then you have a good indication about to your site. Beyond that I don’t find any benefit of joining PPC to get your site up in the search engine.

      • http://www.justbaseball.us Guest

        Actually i found some years back that when i started to use PPc on any particular item…google was actually dropping the item lower & lower in the ranking

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    With a limited budget, I tried using PPC when I first published my safety and security web site a few years ago to get faster ROI while the SEO I paid too much for worked but got little or no results. It’s my opinion after this experience that both SEO and PPC are expensive if you want to see results quickly.

  • http://interactive-arts.com Chip Jones

    …on what the goals are for your website. If you’re running an eCommerce focused web site and you have promotions that run for short priods of time, then PPC is likely to be more imprtant for your business. On the other hand, if your products or services are fairly static and don’t change often, then longer term SEO is more important.

    With a new site with more static offering, both SEO and PPC are important. As mentioned PPC is needed initially to drive traffic while SEO works it’s magic. Although I agree that PPC can be used to uncover new keywords that can be used for SEO, I think that that you should already have a pretty solid idea of what those keywords are BEFORE you create content for the new site.
    You’ll want to make sure that your site architecture, urls, page titles and site links are already using those keywords. This will also help your Quality Score when you create your PPC campaign.

    When using PPC to uncover new keywords, make sure that you are looking at metrics that show the actual search term used, NOT the PPC keyword that triggered the PPC ad.

  • Guest

    Of course this isn’t rocket science. Obviously PPC is for quick results and SEO is the smartest thing you can do in the long run unless of course you have deep pockets or are lazy. If you spend $1 in PPC and it returns $1.01, the PPC works for you. With SEO the same $1.01 turns into $1.01 profit and there isn’t a PPC program out there with that kind of ROI. It’s amazing how many small businesses are willing to spend for the PPC, but are too damn lazy or stupid to put some money into SEO. SEO is not that difficult if you have the right tools and resources and there are plenty of great sites out there willing to tell you what to do. You can start off by searching for the simple SEO terms like:

    seo meta tags http://www.google.com/search?q=seo+meta+tags
    free search engine optimization http://www.google.com/search?q=free+search+engine+optimization

    And remember Google isn’t the only engine out there and NEVER pay for submissions! All major search engines provide a way to submit to them. Find them using simple search terms like:

    add url http://www.google.com/search?q=add+url
    submit url http://www.google.com/search?q=submit+url

    All the major search engines will be shown in the top 10 or 20 and they are all you need.

    And stop fueling Google’s spyware by removing Analytics. It’s not very accurate anyway. Google uses this data to help your competition learn about “your” business and Google knows way too much about you as it is. Don’t let Google know where all your traffic comes!

  • http://www.rlfeming.com Rob Fleming

    A PPC campaign can get potential customers to your website, but that is all…Once on your site you will need to engage these potential customers with relevant content that will provoke them to take your calls to action and nothing but well a researched SEO framework reinforced with quality relevant content can do this!

    Of course if you are planning to use a “squeeze page” or similar method to sell well known or popular branded products and services, then you may be able to easily capitalize on this brand or popularity using a well focused PPC campaign in your marketing efforts, but for those sites that are new or relatively unknown and depending solely on a PPC program to make sales are doomed to failure, especially if they are poorly constructed or have weak content to support their calls to action.

    The best course of action is building your website from the ground up around a well researched SEO framework that includes: the correct Meta data, relevant content, and then reinforcing it with PPC, some quality backlinks and social networking. Using this results proven method will reward your efforts and hard work with dividends.

  • http://www.bc-media.co.uk Leeds Ecommerce

    I think the immediate effect of PPC is what makes it a winner; alongside its flexibility. SEO is time consuming and once locked into a campaign you cannot make split decisions about changes like you can with PPC. But as said before; SEO when working successfully is a free steady stream of traffic so its very good in the long term.

  • http://www.tutorsonweb.com/ Guest

    In my opinion, we cannot take sides as both have their pluses and minuses. Its true that SEO gets you sustained results but when you have a budget constraint then where do you get the basic sustenance cost for a new venture? Its here where the PPC comes helpful – you have to find innovative advertisement banners so that you can attract your target audience, if not in bulk but regularly. This complemented with a regular SEO activity to make your website well known on all search engines is what I think pays.

    • http://www.adulttoyshome.com Guest

      Ive seen and read so much about SEO and all this stuff hired a few people to do my site and know I dont know who to believe or what to do. Maybe some one that knows whats goin on van look at site thats php n told I wont rank high in search engines need like a door way page with html. I dont know what the deal is now anybody tell me bout site wwwadulttoyshomecom and email me pymtsathotmailcom And I supposedly had some SEO code throughout site to rank me high in search engines

  • http://www.blackballonline.com Dave

    Let me say first that I liked the article and I also liked the user comments. This is a good post as link bait. For the date I’m writing this there is no definable right or wrong. It’s all contingent on the needs of the company. Budget considerations as well as goals – long and short term are different for every situation. The key is to be able to analyze the situation vs. the resources at hand and come up with a workable strategy.

  • Guest

    It depends upon your perspective. When SEO is truly optimized the person doing the search is well matched to your site and gets what he/she is looking for in short order. PPC primarily benefits the site operator, hoping for any through traffic, or wrongful clicks. So who do you want to help, the customer or the vendor? In the real world retailers typically want to provide customers with products and service, even if it means recommending a competitor for a specific item the customer is looking for, that customer will always be back. In cyber space, an inadvertent or wrongful click will result in revenue to the site owner anyway

  • http://seoranking.trafficsecretz.com/ SEO Ranking

    Its a waste of time building a multi page site just to keep PPC happy of the market is no good. Test a market with a PPC like yahoo , not Google. if it has buyers then build a SEO site for the long term.

  • http://flexyourwallet.com Bodybuilding Coupon Code

    PPC is a horrid way of marketing especially if you use adsense as its nothing more than PHP script gurus to steal your money using proxies and fake ip addresses.

  • http://solar.how-to-digitals.com Paul

    Each has it’s own use and goal as previously stated in the thread.
    They can also be used together. However, when it comes to cost you should weigh the cost of a 30 page SEO site against a one page salesletter for regular PPC campaign.

    Also, are you in it for the long term as an established company with a future or simply an affiliate selling a niche product that may last only 6 months before the market becomes too competitive?

    Food for thought…….

  • http://www.nurcahyaku.com Jasa Pembuatan Website

    Tank Yau

  • http://www.rxgenericsonline.com Tony


    We are a registered pharmacy based in Philippines and want to promoted our website for branded generic drugs

    Since the major search engines do not allow PPC for pharma companies based overseas shall appreciate if somebody could guide us on which PPC search engines supports pharma companies and SEO of our website

    With regards


    • http://qtriangle.in Guest

      hi Tony,
      send your requirements at http://qtriangle.in/contact-us.html and we will help you.

  • http://www.ppcni.com Jordan McClements


  • http://www.independentcomputerconsultant.com computer consultant

    Interesting comparison. Need to look more into it.

  • http://www.113tidbits.com 113Tidbits

    I’ve recently grabbed a new domain to add content to and took on a mixture of article submissions and directory additions from various sources. Utilizing the one company seems to keep things better organized for me.

    I wouldn’t use PPC at first especially if it’s a site that isn’t monetized for selling products.

  • http://www.thepleasuresallmine.com Guest

    I have spent a small fortune with PPC more with google than any others, i find with google the cpc starts low and soon enough the cost increases without warning and if you are new to this form of adverts you can soon run up a huge bill. I even employed someone to do my adwords and cost me more money with no return. Admited i am in the adult industry and need about 130 clicks for 1 sale. I have started to see the site on natural search front page but only for a couple of searh words. Now how do i improve the whole website. The site has a page rank of 3 which has been achieved in just over 1 year. Good luck to all who use ppc

  • http://landscapingunlimited.com Sal Mortilla

    It seems to me that ppc uses lack strong seo abilities or have little to no knowledge of how to apply proper s e o and or stay with the old concepts.
    Owning two websites and having set up a few more I have been able to get first page placement on both google and yahoo in fact first to third listing on there pages.

    • http://tupperwarepartiesonline.com Sal Mortilla

      I should have mentioned in my first post that the sites I applied seo to achieved indexing and top placement in less that ten days.

  • http://www.servicesdirectory.com.au/ Sanjay

    It is best to setup the foundations of SEO first up, followed by a quality and user friendly and a SE friendly website. Once this is done follow that up by PPC.

    Both SEO and PPC work hand in hand.

  • http://www.europeandomaincentre.com Guest

    Adwords has been very good for us for the site http://www.europeandomaincentre.com and has given valuable info to find best performing keywords for seo. Surely seo and ppc goes hand in hand however it is difficult to get all traffic via organic search, especially in a competitive business like domain registrations.

  • http://www.controldatainc.com agency collection

    I agree getting that many click from organic searches is going to be difficult. Then again 95% of PPC are junk leads, so your paying for nothing.

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    I would agree with both interviews that there would be a need to use both SEO and PPC. I would also agree that there is that “ramp up” time and PPC can fit that interim need while the SEO works its magic. The key as Christine mentioned about PPC, is picking keyword phrases rather than just a word or two so in that way you will have fewer potential competitors and thus less cost. You do need to balance that out so you are getting enough estimated traffic from it.

    The important thing to do through the entire process is to track the site traffic to determine what is working and what is not so you can be “nimble” and make changes in your strategy as needed.

  • Guest

    PPC requires that you select keywords and based on those keywords will be the cost. The more popular a keyword is, the more it will cost you. Since you must select keywords in order to use PPC (I’m talking Google’s PPC here) you’ve then already started on SEO since SEO is also tied to quality keywords and phrases found on the page.

    What I really laugh at is Google often competes with their own customers. Do you think I’m kidding? Try this:

    webmaster tools http://www.google.com/search?q=webmaster+tools

    For me, Google’s ad comes before their customer’s ad. GOSH! Why would you purchase keywords Google is going to fight you over? Isn’t it amazing how willing Google is to take your customers from you? Why do you do this Google? Heck, you can’t even setup a PPC campaign on Google if Google thinks those keywords are important.

    Anyway, PPC can help you build a keywords list. And if using PPC you must NEVER send that traffic to your home page. You need to create a landing page and monitor what people are searching for. Take this information and optimize your home page. As your home page starts improving in results you then need to drop those keywords from your PPC. It’s amazing how many PPC ads I see on Google who are already in the top 3 spots for keywords they purchase. That is really stupid and tells me that the company making that purchase is probably pretty stupid. I click on those ads just to cost the jerk a few bucks. After all, fools like that deserve to pay more.

    • http://deck-boards.com DecKing

      he company making that purchase is probably pretty stupid. I click on those ads just to cost the jerk a few bucks.

      Me too!

  • http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3595541/restaurant_consultants Restaurant Consultant Los Angeles

    PPC is very important if you have a brand new site and you want to get the word out about your restaurant. Combine this with other social media for viral marketing is paramount for marketing your site!

    • Guest

      I don

      • Guest

        It would seem this site does not allow html codes

  • http://www.evolve247marketing.com Portland SEO

    If you go off of what I recommend to my clients on average than SEO is going to be the “more important” of the two. However, SEO is a Bigger Ship and takes time to turn where PPC has the benefit of flexibility. I believe both SEO & PPC have their benefits! As far as your allocation of the two goes, it is going to vary widely by vertical, but I would say 80% SEO & 20% PPC.

  • http://www.kratomcapsules.net Kratom Capsules

    I think you should do both, although organic seo takes longer.

  • http://polars625xheartratemonitor.info Mirc Bes

    For quick testing of the market, PPC is a good option.

  • http://www.loc8tor.com Guest

    In my humble opinion, you need to do both. Without PPC you do not which keywords converts best and there’s no point in optimizing towards a particular keyword if it does not generate a return.

    I started by looking at broad KWs on PPC, then scaled it down by changing to exact on most keywords. Only then did I know which KWs to optimize towards simply by looking at the conversion rates.

    Important factor which wasn’t mentioned above is bounce rate. If your bounce rate is too high, Google will pick on that and penalize you (KW relevance). Right?

  • http://ldii-sidoarjo-jawatimur.blogspot.com ldii

    Organic Search is the best visibility for a site since it represents the establishment, quality, importance and relevancy. But for a new site there is no way to trespass page #1 except PPC.

  • http://www.newappidea.com NewAppIdea

    For those with very small budgets, I think SEO is the way. Slow and steady wins the race!

    The NewAppIdea.com Team

    NewAppIdea.com | App Idea D6evelopment

  • http://roshanjoshi.com.np SEO Nepal

    it is kinda ironic to compare the two unrelated topics. Its scary to think about advertising driven future where only big players who can afford to pay remain.

  • http://www.internet8.info Martin

    PPC costs money. Thats why I post on forums instead… free and targeted traffic is best :-)

  • http://www.artofstorytellingshow.com Brother Wolf

    I had a great URL http://www.storytellingwithchildren.com

    but the name and focus of my podcast changed and was out of alignment with the URL so I changed to the new URL http://www.artofstorytellingshow.com

    I used google webmaster functions to inform Google that the new URL is the old one. I also have called/emailed hundreds of webmasters to inform them of the change.

    I installed an unorthodox Apache redirect from the old url to the new one on every sub-page. To not miss the old incoming links. I think that the Apache redirect killed me in Google.

    PR is now 0 was at 4 – I have a very strong link base went form 3,000 to 1000 sigh.
    The lesson here is that Google seems to really value website history and does not seem to value the quality fo the links as much as the history of the links.

    The sites I have in my stable that have been around more then two years all have high to moderate PR’s 3 to 5. Seems to me that Google is rewarding conformity and conservative thinking. Feeling I did exactly what Google told me to do and got screwed – maybe just want results today and not next year.

    Any other reader thoughts here – of what I could be doing different and don’t tell me I should have switched hindsight is 20/20.

  • Eugen

    How should i get my site higher?
    TNX a lot

  • pookie

    PPC gives you a quick broad sample of keyword traffic to your site – you just won’t get from SEO. How else will you know which keywords to optimize for? All my clients are very happy with their PPC campaigns and are even happier when proper SEO kicks in 3 to 6 months later. Also, PPC helps you focus the structure of your site, so you end up with great landing pages for PPC and eventually SEO. If you are not getting good results from PPC, then you don’t know what you are doing. Either read up on how to be successful (there are no shortcuts) or hire a pro. If someone promises to do SEO for your site without doing PPC first, be very wary. You will spend a bunch of $ to optimize your site for the wrong keywords and get lousy results. I see this all the time.

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com florida web design company

    WOW great question. Great post. Well yes, to a new website PPC is more important, however, I think if you can wait the few months for SEO to kick in and you have a great SEM expert, you can take your planned PPC budget and put it to better use with SEO and SEM techniques.

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