Organic SEO vs. PPC Advertising

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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 get top search engine placement by “bidding” (paying) for keywords related to your product or service.

“Organic” or “Natural” search engine optimization (SEO) is accomplished by optimizing your web pages and by increasing your “link popularity” by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. This gives you high rankings at the Search Engines for your chosen search terms.

In this article, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of both methods of search engine marketing.

“Natural” Search Engine Optimization

Today, there is a big myth that natural search engine optimization is inexpensive and easy. For example, if you wanted your web site to rank high for the keyword phrase “life insurance” or “debt consolidation” you’re going to need to budget a minimum of $50,000-100,000 a year!

Yet still, natural search engine optimization usually gives you a much higher return on investment than pay per click. This is true for two main reasons:

1. More searchers click the natural search engine results versus the pay per click ads, so you’ll get much more traffic for less.

2. One of the biggest factors to improving your rankings with natural search engine optimization is by boosting your “Link Popularity” by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. These links give you lasting results by giving you top rankings and traffic from the search engines. Plus, the links themselves will provide a significant boost in long term traffic.

With that said, the biggest weakness of natural search engine optimization is the time required to generate links and “tweak” your web pages and keywords to get those prized high rankings you so desire. It can literally take 3 months or more to finally enjoy the benefits of your search engine optimization campaign.

Pay Per Click Search Engine Advertising

The biggest benefit of pay per click is the fact that it will provide you with an immediate boost of qualified visitors, lead and sales giving you fast results within just hours or days. In fact, a pay per click advertising program is your best option if you seek fast results and a good return on investment while you are waiting for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program to “ramp up.”

Depending on your traffic goals, you can budget $100 or $100,000. PPCSEs also give you the added benefits of being able to quickly test your web site and track your conversion rates (leads, opt-ins, and sales) and turning keywords (visitors) on and off easily.

So, as a short term strategy pay per click gives you the clear advantage over SEO. But, the disadvantage is the cost involved. Depending on the market demand for your keywords and clicks, your PPCSE campaign can generate tons of traffic and can cost hundreds, even thousands per day. With various optimization strategies you can lower your costs, but over the long term natural search engine optimization will give you a higher return on your marketing dollar.

In Conclusion

The golden rule in marketing is that you should constantly strive for maximum results and ROI for your budget. In other words, if your marketing is making you a profit – even if it’s a thin profit – it’s worth it. By this model, pay per click is worth doing, but overall pay per click will leave you with thinner margins.

The reason for conducting a natural search engine optimization campaign is to significantly increase your margins over the long term.

*Previously published at ArticleCity.com

Article by Matt Hockin, of Interactive Marketing, Inc.

Interactive Marketing, Inc. assists business owners with increasing their growth and profits with cost-effective, high-ROI sales and marketing strategies.


Organic SEO vs. PPC Advertising
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  • http://www.squidoo.com/advertisingfree Free Advertising

    Good points, ppc is a good way to get a quick boost to your site in addition to your seo campaign.

    Here’s my question: Do you think that pay per click campaigns affect your page rank? I would be curious to know what the difference in  a site’s placement would be with and without ppc.

    • http://www.tag44.com Tom Justa

      Obviously PPC is better & fastest way to get quick hits to your site.
      But there’s no relation between ppc & google page rank.
      I don’t think so that ppc will affect your SERPS.
      PPC will just bring hits on your site & search engine gives page rank when they like ur site, ur site content and the backward links of ur site.
      So don’t worry at all ppc will not affect ur site page rank in anyway.

  • http://www.navsoft.in IT Outsourcing


    Indded a good post and well define Analysis.


  • http://www.siterevamp.com Minneapolis SEO

    Good post with solid advice!

    A recent article by Business Week claimed that about 15% of visitors are acccounted for 65% of PPC clicks.  Also, the majority of these 15% searchers are in the low-income levels.  The chances of these searchers buying products or services are rather slim.  They are mainly doing research or looking for some free information.  This presents a serious problem for those who rely on pay-per-click for sales or sales leads.

    SEO and PPC can compliment each other, insteading working against each other.  For many businesses, such as real estate, it can take a very long time for a site to climb up to the top, if it could ever.  In general, if you are looking for short-term gain, PPC is the quickest way to get there.  However, SEO is a solid long-term strategy for better marketing and stronger ROI.


  • http://www.bulgariasfinest.com Jim

    I see this kind of question all the time, I personally feel there is a place for both, it is difficult to target multiple keywords on a website, at best 3 per page, this is where PPC comes in

  • http://eporiablog.wordpress.com/ Ecommerce Solutions

    There is no question that effective SEO beats PPC hands down in both traffic and conversion rate opportunities. Although PPC should be a part of the marketing mix, it shouldn’t be completely depended upon if you’re serious about building your business online.

  • http://www.business-sale.com Chris

    This is generally a budget issue as both are needed

  • http://www.the-little-things-in-life.co.uk Peter

    I agree a mixture of both is the way forward, funds allowing

  • http://www.rocket55.com Minnesota web design

    I would agree that organic ranking is also very costly.  I look at the time I spend just trying to rank my own site and wonder if my time wouldn’t be better spent making more sales calls and foregoing the attempts at seo.

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

    PPC can definitely boost your traffic in the short-term, but it serves no purpose if your site does not pre-sell well to the visitors who click on your ads. So cultivating your site with meaningful content while employing SEO techniques is imperative for converting your PPC searchers into customers.

  • http://www.seo-1-marketing-services.co Seomul

    Not only there is not competition from an ROI standpoint but Organic rankings inspire a higher degree of trust because it proves a company has invested in the long term!

  • http://www.dataflurry.com/marketing/seo_consultants_experts.html Organic SEO Joel

    I don’t think that I could have explained it better. Great insight in to both industries. Both can be very valuable tools if implemented properly!

  • http://www.harpish.com Harpish

    Good article, interesting addition to the SEO Vs PPC on going argument.

    I like “The golden rule in marketing is that you should constantly strive for maximum results and ROI for your budget. In other words, if your marketing is making you a profit – even if it’s a thin profit – it’s worth it.” – good thing to consdier for when thiking about PPC

  • http://www.dkssystems.com/services/Minneapolis-SEO.asp Minneapolis Minnesota SEO

    I think a lot of people believe that you need a PPC campaign OR an SEO campaign. In reality, they can compliment each other very well.

    You really have to do your homework on ppc as you can lose a lot of money very quickly. I personally prefer SEO, however you can’t get results overnight like PPC.

    Great article, im glad i ran across it.

  • http://www.toporganicseo.com/ Top

    Thanks Matt Hockin for a good post.

    Pls let me know which one is best Organic SEO or PPC for perspective of carrier

  • http://www.optimasemper.com Leigh W

    Great Article Matt. I have just forwarded to a new client so they can get a taste of SEO vs PPC and have reassurance on the work that is being done.

  • http://www.seooptim.net Seo Optimization

    The right choice for website depends on particular needs and desires. Most websites benefit most from utilizing a combination of these two approaches. Using PPC marketing can help quickly identify your best performing keywords, while implementing a longer-term SEO strategy will increase chances of ranking well in the organic listings.

  • http://www.organicseospecialist.net Andrew Wheeler

    Wow, a quick google search bought up this post and what is a better case study for this organic seo article?!

    Its over 6 years old and has stood the test of time, and a lot of the content is still 100% relevant today. Great find.


  • http://www.ravishanker.info Ravi Shanker

    Increased Brand Awareness via PPC and SEO…

    Pay Per Click (PPC): A popular advertising technique used on websites, advertising networks and search engines. Advertisers bid on keywords that are associated with their market. Once a user searches using those keywords, the advertiser then has their ad placed in the “sponsored links” or “sponsored ads” portion of the page and pays when the user clicks on the ad. The largest network operators are Google (Google AdWords) and Yahoo! (Yahoo! Search Marketing.) Like SEO, this field has been narrowed down to an exact science that includes when to bid, how to bid and what to bid on to keep costs low and returns high.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Each search engine has a unique way of ranking or caching pages. By optimizing the structure of the website and improving its content, it’s possible to improve the website’s rankings for relevant keywords in search results. SEO has become an exact science as only when the website’s overall structure and content can be easily read and understood by the individual search engine’s programs, true optimization be achieved.

  • Guest

    I guess it all depends on the time and resources that you have. You can also have both.

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  • http://www.pctech.com onsite computer service

    I like your nice and informative post.

  • http://montrealqualitysitedesign.com Montreal SEO Expert

    PPC – pay per click is good for website owners that have a very low ranking because you pay to get ranked as high as top sites.

    Organic – Good strategy for ranking your site to top page over a short period of time (usually 1 to 3 months depending on how good your expert is and how many quality backlinks you can acquire + Social marketing + website optimization + blogs +….


    SEO Expert and Marketing Manager

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