PPC has been all the rage, with it’s fast return on results. Notice I said results, not investment. SEO has become popular again, likely due to the [wasted] dollars spent on PPC.
I see many blog posts, forum discussion thread, etc. touting one over the other. So the obvious question by those not focused on search engine marketing is “Which should I do?”
Why do we have to choose? It doesn’t seem appropriate.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the act of tuning your site and its content to be more search engine friendly (note I said friendly, not coercive). This, like usability and accessibility, should be part of the overall site and content project plan, as well as ongoing maintenance of the site. Search Engine Optimization ensures that the site is effectively and completely crawled, it’s content is tuned for the site user and is findable via various channels, including the search engines.
Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click (PPC) is the act of creating an ad, either textual or graphical (rich media) for the sake of promoting content. This content can be informational, commercial, or promotional in nature. Marketers are usually charged a per-click rate for each ad. The rate is determined by several factors, including competition for the keywords to trigger the ad, as well as the new Quality Score from Google.
So Which Should Be Used?
Both. Here’s why…
For users, organic search results (those returned under and to the left of the “sponsored” results/ads) usually appear more relevant and trustworthy. Therefore, Search Engine Optimization has this benefit. Other benefits with sound, effective and ethical SEO is good relevancy and ranking for most of your site’s content. And while not free (someone will have to perform the keyword research and implement any changes), SEO is much more cost effective over time.
Pay-Per-Click is perfect for obtaining quick hits and awareness. This is especially important for sites which have just gone live and have not been indexed yet, or obtained inbound links for PageRank and authority. For promotions, it imperative to leverage PPC for placement.
SEO can help PPC programs and visa versa. Some of the same keyword uncovered during research that went into optimization content can be leverage for Pay-Per-Click. And in creating an effective PPC user experience to positively impact conversions via landing pages can positively impact the design of other pages on your site.
SEO should be an integral part of a web site strategy, researching the keywords, optimization and site & content, then maintaining this optimization on an ongoing basis. PPC should be used in a campaign fashion, for a limited period of time, to promote select content, for the purpose of the user taking action.