Still not sure about search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) programs? Well, you’re not alone… in this corner—the fine-tuned, cost-effective SEO… and in this corner—the trackable, instantaneous PPC.

  • Some PPC specialists will argue that what SEO delivers is too vague, and that PPC is the only way to go because it’s easier to measure.
  • On the other hand, some SEO specialists insist that SEO is more cost effective, therefore SEO in the only way to go because it has a lower cost per action (CPA).

Both arguments are based on empty bias (& desire for your business). To rely on just a single marketing channel is a precarious way to engage in marketing. SEO and PPC are both valid marketing channels, and a company looking to market on the internet should ideally look to leverage PPC and SEO campaigns, among others.

While many passionately claim one is better than the other, the simple facts can be hard to come by as it’s easy to (1) get overwhelmed and lost in the argumentation or (2) just avoid the choice all together.

Some experts believe that businesses get more out of paying for targeted traffic than from PPC advertising campaign; others point out that SEO impacts where a website ranks naturally in the search engines and can thereby increase the credibility of a company.

Fortunately, there is one thing that the experts all agree on: if a company has a website, they need a way for potential customers to find them. So should you spend your marketing dollars on your SEO or PPC arsenal—or both? 

Some people argue that search engine optimization and paid inclusion is a waste of time. Optimization firms can’t do much to improve a Google ranking and with search engines having prominent paid results, SEO will be a thing of the past.

Others argue that while search engine optimization may take longer to achieve results and can’t guarantee placement it is a long term, very cost effective investment, much like public relations, and should be an important part of your marketing mix.

First let’s break down SEO

Search engine optimization is the process of fine tuning (i.e. optimizing) your website to reflect specific keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and attract visitors to your site (when they search for those words).

This optimization relates to a variety of elements—not only on your site’s homepage, but subpages as well. Those elements can include things like meta tags, link structure, link popularity and the content of the site itself.

Once your website is properly optimized, the goal is then to make sure that search engines find your site and add as many of your pages as possible in their indices. These engines will usually start with your home page and then work their way to other pages and subpages on the site.

Now, onto PPC

Pay-per-click is a service in which an advertiser selects specific keywords or phrases and then creates a listing that will show up when someone searches for that phrase. The advertiser selects an amount they are willing to pay for each click on their listing that results in a visit to their site – thus the term “pay-per-click”.

If other advertisers have selected the same keyword or phrase as yours, you then compete against them for the highest position. Whoever is willing to spend the most shows up first with the others following in order.

What PPC has allowed you to do is instantly “pay” your way to the top whereas traditional SEO takes time and effort… so which is best for your business? Keep your eyes peeled for the third and final piece to this puzzle.

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