Organic SEO vs. PPC?

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So, what’s it going to be?  Spend the time and effort cultivating your organic search engine marketing plan or just offer up the cash and invest in a pay-per-click program? Which is better for you?  Both?

Organic SEO vs. PPC?
Organic SEO vs. PPC?

It’s a question most, if not all; businesses will eventually have to ask themselves in the course of developing their Internet marketing strategies.  Which alternative offers the best return on investment?  Which one is more easily managed? 

When you purchase visitors or "clicks" from a search engine, this is called "pay-per-click" (PPC) search engine advertising (or PPCSE). Pay-per-click search engine advertising allows you to quickly leverage search engine traffic by "bidding" (paying) for keywords related to your product or service.

On the upside… you’re free from the headaches and worry of trying to figure out what any given engine’s algorithm is up to and how it impacts your position.  It’s scalable and controllable – you know exactly how much you’re spending and (ideally) have a good idea of what you’re getting in return. It’s also very fast.  No waiting around here… just sign that check and watch your results.

On the downside, it costs several coins – sometimes quite a lot of them actually, to get really good results.  The low hanging fruit of paid search has long since gone now that mainstream advertisers and Fortune 500s have jumped into the space.  Paid campaigns are also not without their headaches. Coming up with effective keywords to bid on is a job in and of itself.  Managing what you’re spending on what keywords, measuring their returns, adjusting your spends and playing the PPC game intelligently is a full time gig.

In the other corner we have "Organic" or "Natural" search engine optimization (SEO). Generally speaking, organic SEO consists of optimizing your web pages to enhance their position in the naturally occurring search results.  Asking what goes into organic SEO is a lot like asking what goes into a Twinkie.  You start with sorbic acid, which derives from natural gas. Ok really organic SEO consists of making sure the search engine spiders can crawl and understand what is on your web pages.  Once they understand it, you need to make them like it more than all the other web pages with the same/similar information. 

It’s about as easy as it sounds.  In essence, you are just making sure your content on your page is in good shape and then start trying to move your pages up the results by doing things like cultivating inbound links from other sites.  Inbound links dictate your "link popularity" so, by acquiring (ahem… however you do so) links that point to your web site. You can boost your rank in the search results.

That established, Purchase World of Warcraft Gold, we decided to ask some of the experts which type of marketing most sites should be using: organic SEO or PPC? Executive Vice-President of SiteLab, Dana Todd, a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies Conferences, and Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney Media Group, Inc. have both been there and done exactly this with both methods.

Jeremy felt like, as a rule of thumb, the majority of bloggers should generally use organic SEO because they aren’t really selling a product.  For those companies and sites that are trying to sell a physical product, PPC has quicker results.

He said, "Whenever you have a physical good, that you know what it’s worth and you know what that value is, then it’s real easy to use Pay-Per-Click. You know exactly how much to spend to make money."

Dana Todd emphasized the fact that everybody can benefit from organic SEO.  Dana says, “(each form of) Advertising has a completely different place in your media mix. We would never recommend, here at SiteLab, that you do one or the other; you always do them both wherever possible."

Jeremy and Dana both felt that neither method was sufficient by itself and indicated that everyone should look at trying both if at all possible.  For some sites, depending on your goals, it often makes sense to allocate more or less resources to one form or the other.  However, for most sites looking to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy, most any plan should include components of both.

To find out more details of the interview with Shoemoney and Dana Todd, you can watch the video and gain helpful tips of how to start and what to do when tackling marketing online.  

Organic SEO vs. PPC?
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  • http://www.simplyclicks.com David Burdon

    There are obvious synergies in doing both. Lessons learned in the pay per click market can be applied to SEO activities. PPC allows easy experimentation and testing – particularly with the ease of getting traffic onto landing pages. On the other hand, organic search will pick up long tail terms that can be utilised in mainstream PPC.

  • http://www.ShannonLefevre.com Shannon Lefevre

    The questions at hand:
    Which alternative offers the best return on investment? Which one is more easily managed?

    Wow, that’s almost like asking what came first…the chicken or the egg? Getting your website to rank high on the search engines is difficult at best but the interest is far greater when you get eyeballs from an organic search than you ever do on a pay per click at least in my experience. My web visitors search on average nearly 9 pages per visit compared to only 3 on pay per click.

  • http://creativebox.ltd.uk Brian Bentley

    SEO every time. It’s not about traffic, its about conversion rates. My clients know that to break even on PPC is a good result i.e. £1 spend = £1 profit on sales.

  • http://www.mastersoundpro.com Pete

    I optimize the website and i use PPC. When i test the site the results are almost 50/50 Organic and PPC So i think that using both are agreat Idea

  • http://www.stillnotrich.com Kevin Ellingwood

    Kara did a great job with the limited space she had in her article talking about SEO vs PPC. Unfortunetly you could develop a 4 year college program regarding this subject. I have been involved in Internet Marketing for over 2 years and web-development for over 4 years, to date there is still no simple solutions to this issue. You would almost need to be a Google engineer to understand the guts of SEO. There is an ocean of Programs out there that are advertised to solve your SEO problems or challenges. It takes much more than a software package to understand SEO and to implement and publsih a successful website. A good start to this is “word-smithing” and trying to get into the head of web surfers and their search parameters.

    Many beginning Internet Marketers do not have the resources to effectively use PPC and therefore are forced into struggling through the SEO forest.

    It is all exhausting

  • http://www.noodleware.com rick horvath

    In our company’s experience, PPC seems to be the best way to get the highest rankings. We’ve tried using various SEO programs, but they are all pretty much the same be it WebPostition, IBP, Dynamic Submission, etc.

    All these programs boast lots of features to help in optimizing and submitting. After so many years of the philosophy of SEO has been changed and modified.

    I truly believe there is no clear cut way to get your pages listed with any of these programs – other than paying for it!

  • http://www.godsmessageontheweb.com Greg McAbee

    Organic means contains Carbon.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    • http://digitalgreenlight.com Carl

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Jargon is terminology that relates to a specific activity, profession or group. Much like slang it develops as a kind of shorthand, to quickly express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group.

  • http://www.flashpreviews.com Anthony Galeano

    To me is just a matter of how fast you want to get to the top, if you are looking to be at the top today, the best choice is ppc but if you want to gradually work your way out to number one you need to spend some long hours checking to see what works, I know how tiddious is to do either one, because even if you think is just type some keywords and ppc, you maybe just exposing your self to the wrong people, so at the end you still have to convined a bit of both.

    One thing is for sure it takes time and money to get to the top. :)))


    Anthony Galeano
    Creative Director/principal.

  • shahab

    Most pay-per-click program don’t convert at all, so the best is search engin


    • http://www.lustvibes.com Sex Toys for Men

      For both to be really effective, they must be done by talented specialists in the field. Its better to invest money here than lose your time.

  • http://www.vegasrooms.com Ed Young

    At this point your survivability as an Internet based operation is a function of the size of your industry. If you are a small fish in a large pond, and have been swimming around for 5 years or so, you already know you’ve only got about 2 years left before your big-box competitors drive the cost of advertising out of your reach. Adding insult to that injury, you also know Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask, happy to have been taking your money, are also your (worst) comperitors now (or soon to become one) syphoning off as much traffic as possible before a potential buyer can even ‘see’ you.

    At that point you realize that for the past many years you have been educating the search engines as to exactly how to best sell your stuff, exactly what keywords are best, and the value of your industry–all the while paying (the search engines) for the privledge.

    If you are a big fish, buying up every piece of cyber real estate you can get your fingers on, your contributions to the aforementioned have been enormous, which have helped pave the way for the search engines’ attack against you too. Actually, you’ve already felt the pinch, haven’t you? Do you really think your can wait it out? Still waiting for that big offer?

    About half the Internet population (or more) think the WEB SITES Google, Yahoo … IS the Internet. The time will come sooner than later when even the big fish are going to be just fish to the major search engines.

    If you are so lucky to be one-of-a-kind, do everything you can now, SEO- and PPC-wise, to maximize your revenue. You are going to need the money when Googel, Yahoo, MSN and Ask notice there’s good money to be made in your industry.

    There was a time when the Internet was free and everyone played on level ground. Those days are long gone. Search engines needed us, crawled our sites and figured it out (their job). Now we follow their ‘guidelines’ and pay through the nose to advertise in their PPC programs, because they have wired their search algorithms in their own favor (and/or simply cut us off at the pass). So, we spend huge time and effort to optimize, optimize, optimize (according to their guidelines), just to get bitch-slapped again when our traffic is cut in half, and out PPC spend doubles, again.

    There is one solution, but it would require all advertisers to boycott PPC programs and search engines that sneak into our business. Fat chance of that ever happening …

    Welcome to the world of SEO Vs. PPC.

    • http://www.kabar.ws/ ?????

      100 % ??SEO VS PPC , i never sign up PPC ,


  • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

    As far as I’m concerned, Google is a monopoly with only gad flies at it’s door and that’s a dangerous place for all of us.
    We work at both strategies and now we show up almost equally well with PPC and organic but, it’s a huge amount of work to keep up with it. Google says to make your web site what you want it to be and don’t make it just for them but as soon as you go your own way you’re in danger of losing page rank or wasting huge sums of money because you’re out of compliance with some internal arcane concept they came up with without asking we the people who pay of we think it’s a good idea.
    Building a web site and making it search engine friendly these days is like teaching to the test in No Child Left Behind. You might even pass the test but hwat really have you lerned or produced.

    I was outraged when I first heard about ppc about 9 years ago and everything I din’t like is worse than ever. It’s a ridiculous sytem and the costs and complexities go up everyday and leave good people in the dust. The internet is still a baby and I hope it grows up soon.

  • http://www.eccessibility.com/?webpronews jason t chandler

    Always opt for both to start. Once you identify the converting long tail modifers from your instand PPC traffic you can move hard and fast to the search engine optimization of your source code and website text content.

    Be sure to add the latest web content accessibility to your site too!!



  • http://www.AdMain.co.uk jon

    Sometimes, you feel that, F””k it, lets just load the AdWords account, lets just give Yahoo a bucket full of cash, then you look at the cost per click! I’m happy, my clients are happy with the trafficc they get for UK Yahoo and UK Google. Organic. Natural. SEO. Call it what you will.
    Fr33 site visitors are not only *Fr33*, but in long run out way the cost of ppc.

    We are lucky. No matter what happens to the current algo’s, in which search engines, we stay there or there abouts. Some sites are just sticky.

  • http://bestvetstore.com agung

    i prefer to chose the generic SEO, even though i don’t know more, but SEO is interesting, because SEO is an art of web building :)

  • http://www.hyenaonline.com Hyena Online

    I agree to use both to maximize profits and
    minimize cost.

  • http://www.starlingbooks.net L.L.

    Personally, I feel that businesses have outwitted the basic function of search engine marketing. I have a website, www.starlingbooks.net, that I

  • http://www.updateyourwebpage.com Mael Hernandez

    I find that it is best to have a good mix of both. There are no short cuts and it requires a long term commitment whichever way you go. If something isn’t working (generating sales, leads, etc.) you need to change it.

  • http://www.successimage.com Garnet Bailey

    I view these in terms of time and half life. PPC is fast – takes effect nearly immediately, yet it dies the minute you stop funding it.
    On the other hand SEO has a far longer half life, yet is much slower to produce results. But those results last a lot longer. Ultimately I’m looking for long term stability (if that exists!), so SEO is the long term winner. But PPC helps get you through the interim.

  • http://www.intelligentit.ro Mircea

    I use SEO and PPC, not one or the other.
    BUT, if I had to chose one, I wouldnt think for a second, I know SEO is better.
    If you MUST chose only one, then chose CPC only if you are far in searches.
    CPC campaigns push to ppl a lot of unwanted results so many of the clickers are completly out of subject.
    Also ranking high in SEO is a metter of respect and some ppl care about it.
    More on this- many surfers completly ignore CPC campaings.
    I am one of them!

  • http://www.lohre.com Chuck Lohre

    About 95% of my clients’ conversions come from SEO.

  • http://www.businessservicesuk.com Pete

    I advise all my clients to use PPC until optimisation techniques have improved SERPS to a level that PPC can be halted with no negative effect on the business.

  • http://www.bulgariasfinest.com Donna

    If you are targeting multiple keywords PPC is beneficial

  • http://www.bulgariasfinest.com Jim

    SEO for me as it adds value to a website

  • http://www.acornrecruitmentsw.co.uk Chris

    I use both at the moment, my longer term plans are to get to the top of the organic listing and then ditch PPC

  • http://www.angelconnectionsbylori.com Loriangel

    I’ve been on line with my site for 9 years now.  Early on, I started working with ineedhits.com.  I have never regretted this.  Several of my key words are in the top 10 on major search engines.  I always feel organic is better than PPC because I have earned my place over a long period of time.  It takes cooperation with ineedhits.com and me to keep my site up and running well.  They do the submission work and suggest new key words periodically and even check on my source code in some cases.  Time and longevity are on my side.  Since I am a one person business, I have all the calls and customer work on my business.  With the super cooperation of the fine organization of ineedhits.com, this has worked for me.  Way back when PPC first started, it was a reasonable way to go so I did both.  Now PPC is expensive with lots of people willing to pay.  Organic SEO is the best solution for my small company before and especially now.  Companies on the Net all have growing pains and we can never learn enough about putting our name and site in a better spot.  Good luck and be patient!  Loriangel

  • http://www.giftexposure.co.uk Dave

    PPC for me all the time

  • http://www.foxtech.org Technology News

    It depends on what do you want to accomplish. For example, if you want fast results than you must go for PPC. If you want better results but time is not a very important concern, for a long time investment, then SEO is the right way.

  • http://www.g4hq.com Runescape Forums

    SEO = Long Term (not forever)
    PPC = Fast and of course more liky Targeted

  • http://travel-guide2india.blogspot.com travelling to India- Famous tourism places in India

    SEO gives you a long term result and a steady inflow of traffic but it tae a great deal of time and work on your part. but PPC gives you instant result and targeted traffic..

    Often it would be nice to start with PPC and then gradually shift to SEO.

  • http://www.mgnlaw.com personal injury lawyer chicago

    I agree that the synergy between the two is what drives the most sales.

  • http://familylawlawyersflorida.com/ Marc

    I am siding with the group who are developing a rounded marketing strategy.

    And this includes offline campaigns and existing branding tactics. 

    PPC generally is not for bloggers without products, but it can be leveraged to bring in relevant traffic and place targeted banner ads on niche specific sites. 


  • http://www.moviesblip.com/films/new-to-dvd New To DVD

    It is definitley confusing and a hard choice. Although I would pick SEO over PPC 99% of the time.

  • http://www.ukrate.co.uk Kate

    It would be good if one knows and is fully aware of pay-per-click and how is works other wise its very difficulty and expensive For long term seo is the best http://www.ukrate.co.uk

  • http://www.demtron.com/Search-Engine-Optimization.aspx SEO Consultant

    I’ve heard complaints from so many micro businesses (1-10 employees) about how much money they pay for PPC that doesn’t yield results.  Even after tweaking their campaigns, my research into their analytics has shown that their higher quality traffic (pages per visit, conversions, $ per order) generally comes from organic SERPs.

    PPC is often needed to jumpstart a business, but mature sites rely on it much less.  One of our longtime sites (8+ years) gets 4K visitors per month and only about 10% through PPC.  Our best traffic for that site comes through referrals from other sites – by far.

  • http://www.car-scrapyards.co.uk Olly

    The traffic source from PPC is better than organic, hence you have to pay for it

  • http://www.seosean.com Affordable SEO Services

    Natural SEO is my choice. It’s something I know and can get results with it so I don’t see any other reason to abandon it. Where as PPC, I’ve tried several times with this and have not generated the visitors effectively as I can do with SEO and getting my site to the top 10 on Google.

  • http://www.5abr.com ???

    good article but contain many links, any way thank you

  • Guest

    PPC (pay per clicks) are one of the worst marketing strategies I have ever seen. For one, how often do you yourself search for something and find it in the sponsored links? I myself think “sales” when I see those sponsored links and I stay away. Everyone knows its advertising. No one likes advertising. How often do you actually watch commercials or listen to them on the radio? For another , you have a set budget every month and every time someone clicks on your link, it depletes from your budget. So, what happens when your budget is gone? So is your site! Which brings us to click fraud. There are companies out there who will actually pay people to click on their competitors site in the pay per clicks to deplete from their marketing budget and lose their visibility. Sad, but true. So right now, someone is sitting at home in thier robe and slippers sipping coffee and getting paid to click on your website and deplete your budget. There is actually a Penn State study on this exact thing. Research has also showed that the organic or natural listings get 8x more traffic than the pay per clicks. Organic listings are everything that the sponsored links are not. I would stand out on a corner holding a sign to advertise for my company before I wasted money on the sponsored links. At least then I’d be sure someone would SEE it.

    • chicksdigffedora

      PPC works. If it didn’t how did Google become a multi-billion dollar business. Oh no sorry you must be right, I’m sure after years of rigorous testing companies the world over have decided to contiunally increase their spending with Google because they are losing money. Mr. Guest, you are completely clueless, go hold your sign.

      • Johnny Appleseed

        Chicksdigffedora, Mr. Guest makes a good argument. I will agree with both of you though. PPC will generate some business, if it did not work at all, then noone would pay for it anymore. At the same time, I feel organic results are much better. It may in fact take longer to get to the first page with organic, but if you know what you are doing or have a good SEO company working on your site, you will be able to ensure your website is always on the first page, 24 hours a day, and your budget will be consistent every month because you don’t have to pay for each click. Additionally, I feel that organic will give you better results and more traffic to your site. Most folks do not realize there are marketing firms behind the organic results. They just believe the first page results are the best or most rellevant. I know when I search for anything, I never go to the sponsored links. They both will generate business and if you can afford to do both, then do both. If you can only afford to choose one, I would choose first page organic results anyday over PPC.

  • http://www.businesscards.net.in ajnaz

    SEO is the right way…

  • http://www.best-seo-tips Dominic Anderton

    I prefer SEO over PPC, because PPC can deplete your budget pretty quickly, especially if don’t know what you are doing. I often tell my clients, with persistence, SEO pays off in the long-term. That’s not to say that PPC can’t benefit you. However, you should weigh your options first (i.e. if you getting high number of clicks from PPC, is your site converting after searchers land on your site?).

  • http://www.taxfix.co.uk TaxFix

    At TaxFix we use a combination of the two.

    Both techniques have their benefits and they should both be statically used.

    SEO is a slow process which should be looked at as a long term investment and PPC is something that you can see results for much quicker.

  • jumi

    seo is the best

  • http://www.trazavirtual.com dise

    Both they are very necessary and they must go in line together like part of a marketing strategy. At the outset he is recommendable to use PPC to obtain immediate results, while the positioning in finders works.

  • http://seowebdesign-pro.com David Marchioni

    Organic has a better Click-Through-Rate compared to PPC by a factor of 3. PPC is good to help discover keywords quickly and in the beginning of a campaign. SEO will cost much less but tales longer. If you decide to use both PPC and SEO, PPC can be tweaked for or throttled down to save budgets. PPC is great for new sites to be but SEO has better ROI.

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