the latest from 2am Media

21 Apr

Which is better Pay Per Click or Search Engine Optimisation?


You know, this is a question I get asked a lot, “which is better pay per click or SEO?” They are both a form of search marketing, they are both integral to most serious Internet marketing strategies and they both have their own unique merits and pitfalls.

They are, however, quite different mediums in many ways.

All search engine marketing is advertising

Pay Per Click is blatant advertising, you put some money in your ad appears and you get your money back in the form of conversions, which may be enquiries or actual sales, it’s that simple, you can see what’s happening straight away and decide whether it’s working for you.

Search Engine Optimisation is a bit more tricky, you play with the page content and with the links to attempt to manipulate the way a search engine ranks your website, don’t be fooled, the organic listing is not free advertising no matter what Google tells you. I’ve been saying to clients for a long time now they have to treat SEO as though it was a traditional marketing medium such as billboad advertising.

Your websites’ search traffic should be separated out from the pay per click traffic, you need to be able to trace it whether the sales come in via the site or via telephone – that means putting in place unique funnels that will filter the visitor, if you’ve got a PPC campaign running you need to make sure there is no leakage from that campaign to the search channel, a good way of doing this is to dynamically change the telephone number or email addresses based on a query string in the destination URL of your ppc keywords.

Nothing is free – if you stop your search engine optimisation campaign you won’t stay in the top stop forever, especially if you are in a competitive market place (and if you need an SEO campaign then you are in a competitive search market).

What are the benefits of PPC?

• Immediate returns
• Visitors are more transactional
• Scalable

What are the disadvantages with PPC?

• Can be expensive
• Google discriminates against new advertisers
• Most searchers use organic listings

What are the benefits of SEO?

• Most users click on the organic listings
• Most searches in Google are long tail searches
• Over 25% of searches in Google every day have never been made before

What are the disadvantages of SEO?

• Long term marketing strategy
• Algorithm changes can affect rankings overnight
• Competitors often have more marketing budget to affect changes
• Diminishing returns as the internet becomes denser

How to think about Search Marketing going forwards

In 2010 you shouldn’t just be thinking about search engine optimisation or PPC – they really are different sides of the same coin.

Also, you need to be thinking about how you can maximize your presence in the search engines. Some people call this search engine maximization although I think the more inclusive term is search marketing is more appropriate, it encompasses everything from search engine optimisation, Pay-Per-Click, Social Media etc – it’s all part of the same thing – getting people to find your site by any means possible which maximizes your return on investment. It’s marketing folks nothing more.

I often meet business people who are starting to come across Search Engine Optimisation for the first time, it’s a buzz term to them, the future – but actually SEO as a marketing tool in the singular is no longer as effective as it once was.

It’s important that as search marketers we all use the right terminology and make the people we speak to begin to understand that it’s not all about one aspect of our craft – otherwise, ultimately the people we deal with won’t see the overall value of what we do and they’ll find it very hard to trust people that talk about search in the future.

One Response to “Which is better Pay Per Click or Search Engine Optimisation?”

  1. James Bell

    Interesting article again guys. I pay PPC for Lake District Prints and I appear on Page 1 position 3 for the same term naturally and nearly all clicks for this term come from the PPC campaign. Usually when in ad spot top 1.

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