What’s Better: PPC or SEO?

Pay-Per-Click vs. Search Engine Optimization

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At SES Chicago, there was an interesting session in which a group of search marketing professionals debated the issue of which is better between PPC and SEO. Participants included Dave Naylor, Chirstine Churchill, Michael Gray, and Karen Weber, and Rand Fishkin.

Does PPC have more benefits than SEO? Comment here.

Churchill pointed to a study from Engine Ready on conversion rates by source of traffic (PPC vs organic). The study found:

- Conversion rates: PPC just barely beat SEO
– Average Order Value: Paid won
– Average time on site: Paid won

She gave the following as advantages of PPC:

Christine Churchill- Gives immediate online presence
– Have a new site? Have ads in an hour
– Start getting ROI sooner
– No ramp up time
– Great for seasonal items or time sensitive promotions
– Great for testing
– Easily test effectiveness of new marketing message or site design change
– Quickly gather feedback
– Regulate traffic volume
– Sales pipeline empty? Use PPC to push traffic
– Overloaded? Pause campaigns or cut back spend
– Have limited sales season? Saturate market while demand is high

"PPC is very agile. It’s also has targeting advantages," said Churchill.

For targeting, she says PPC provides opportunity for high visibility in multiple channels (search engines, content sites, mobile phones), expands results beyond search results, and gives you control over placement on SERPs and better control over landing page/message.

It’s often easier to sell PPC to management because the concept is similar to traditional advertising, and provides for direct accountability. It’s easy to track measures of success. It’s an effective way to drive qualified traffic to your site, and it allows you to expand your opportunities.

Karen Weber Weber says the top five reasons why "PPC rules," are: speed, flexibility, it’s unlimited, it’s goal-driven, and it’s controllable. You can quickly manipulate keywords to those that drive conversions, you can quickly change bid prices, and you can quickly get in and out of the market. You can turn your campaign on and off, and change ad copy, keywords, etc. You can target a much wider range of keywords, adhere to a budget, and have an immediate impact on sales.

Fishkin pointed out that PPC gets 10% of clicks, but 90% of spend. He said SEO is more challenging and less controllable, but the spend is there and the fact that people click organic results.

Gray said he believes that PPC could make SEO better, but Google is banning people now, so it makes things more challenging. Naylor said he believes SEO is more "open." Weber and Fishkin both said they would outsource PPC over SEO.

Michael Gray Gray said it’s important to get in the top during the early part of the research phase, especially since Google is personalizing results for everyone now. Churchill noted that Google’s personalization is a better argument for PPC. Like iEntry CEO Rich Ord recently noted, the addition of personalized results could "make people less reliant on organic search results for their traffic and in turn increase their use of Adwords."

Another point was brought up as we recently discussed – that the search engines are pushing organic listings down with mixed media (blended, universal) results.

Certainly there are many advantages to both PPC and SEO, and they can compliment one another. Actually, a recent study from a couple of NYU Stern professors found that organic search engine results can play a direct role in whether or not a paid listing is clicked.

Which do you think is more important – SEO or PPC? Share your thoughts here.

WebProNews reporter Abby Johnson contributed to this report.

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

What’s Better: PPC or SEO?
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  • http://mumbai.citizensindia.com rohnsmith

    Some times you need to be expertise in Ppc .But I want to spend my money on outsourcing .It will coast you less and you can slo train them as per your requirement

  • http://www.fighting-mma.com stan leung

    You PPC when you site is new and u are in sand box and want to get results. as the SOE goes up you lower the PPC. When they are even you lower your PPC

    PPC to me is the filler until SEO is where you want it to be

    but i do believe both as important parts of marketing

    you don

  • http://susmita.wordpress.com/ Susmita

    I always believe in two. For many (almost all) cases I have got excellent results from PPC campaign for new sites. Initially during the launch of any site I design the site confirming the SEO requirements, then optimize the site for SEO. Then start following the site submission, niche marketing submission to online yellow pages etc. At the same time I start circulating PPC ads. All time I got instant response from PPC campaign first and slowly slowly I catch the flow from the organic results.

    Once I did a online campaign for a newly launched Car site. From the very first day we started getting leads from the PPC campaign but from organic search results it took 15 days time to generate desired results.

    Hence I can not ignore the importance of PPC campaign as well as the requiremants of SEO.

  • http://www.playingcardsandmore.com Tom

    I focused on SEO and I am still here. I know folks that chose the PPC path and they did not make it, so in the long run I think SEO is the way to go.

  • http://calusacreek.com Paul

    I was spending PPC money for years and not seeing the results I needed. Now I focus on SEO and things are improving, I wish I focused on SEO earlier.

  • http://www.empowerperformancemarketing.com Spark

    I haven’t really try PPC but have heard of those horrible story on PPC [Google Slap], i am not sure whether will it be a better choice between SEO.

    But as some suggested, i prefer getting long-term result after some hardwork once hit top page and move to other keywords.

    This way, i move on to other keywords knowing that the keywords that i the top page will bring me cash in long-term without spending on it anymore. Perhaps adding a few links here and there. [By there time, we should have more than enough money to outsource]

    But i will love to try PPC one day and maybe it will change my mind on PPC.

  • Brian

    I can see where they both have their place… the thing I find difficult is understanding PPC and how it works. I tried it for one of my businesses but found it to hard to use and to hard understand… a couple of hundred dollars later and no new business; left me thinking that this is just a money grab for the people that run it.

    I have to put PPC in the same scam category… if it sounds to good to be true then it most likely is to good to be true. I always find that people that have to make things difficult to understand have an underlying reason for this and face it… the harder it is for people to learn to use or apply and the longer it takes someone to use it effectively… the more money the owners make.

  • http://www.hangar17.com Multilingual seo

    I use seo the best one compare with ppc. For seasonal trafic and search results then ppc is good one. but life long trafic and search results then absolutely seo is the best one.

  • http://www.pokerpros.co.za Thomas

    I agreed with the sentence money today or money tomorrow. A combination brings very good results but if like me you are in an over saturated market SEO is then the only way to go

  • http://www.wedgeim.com calgarywebdesign

    I would chose seo cause at leats i can do most free unlike PPC which can cost hundreds of dollars per month

  • http://us724.com Mcseol

    Personally I do both SEO and PPC.

    SEO is a MUST for a website (of cos the cost is important), while PPC is an add-on when I feel comfortable.

    Don’t you think that Yahoo PPC is cheating?! The stat of “clicks” is very doubtful and that’s why I only do PPC on Google.

  • http://work-study-abroad.blogspot.com Tamon

    PPc is more important, It’s also has targeting advantages.

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

    Honestly the ROI for good SEO / SEM is far greater then PPC. PPC has a low ROI.

  • http://spartanseo.com Furniture SEO

    Effective and SEO can bring more traffic and sales at a much lower cost than PPC. Anyone that disagrees, frankly doesn’t know better. For example, for competitive terms, PPC costs can easily cost $800 a day to generate traffic (and MAYBE sales). Over a year even at a basic rate like this, you would be spending almost $300,000 a year in clicks… Think about how much better this money could be used in growing your site and optimizing it for the search engines. From my experience SEO wins hands down. If you don’t believe let me know and I’ll prove it to you.

  • kavinscott

    ppc in system is great deal to make your site popular and its results comes in instant. if you have proper strategy the n ppc is beneficial.

    and if you have no strategy then SEO door is always open. and it take more time get ROI.

  • http://afyla.com seo

    Very interesting post – Might be old new, but it was new to me.
    I don’t think I could sit and debate this because it’s almost like saying, “What’s more important: Money today, or money tomorrow?

  • http://www.thomex.com Neelu

    I have been trying to get in PPC…I have done a lot of SEO things but still the position in Search engines is not that well….can anyone suggest me what strategy should i follow for PPC…should i go for yahoo ppc services or Google Adwords…which is better my website is www.thomex.com please visit once and suggest me ideas for better promotion strategy….


  • http://www.bytelaunch.com Orange County SEO

    Thanks for this awesome post. I was looking for this kind of information. Please continue writing….

  • http://www.whitehatseoteam.com/seo-packages.html Michele@affordable seo packages

    There are lots of difference between PPC and SEO .But the major competent are both are same. Both are essential for an affordable seo package. It’s a best part for seo company. If we provide affordable package to our client’s it will be benefited for them.

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