Search Engine Optimization vs Pay Per Click Advertising

17 Jan 2012
Written by MJ Meyer

So you've heard about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, but what is it exactly and which is better for your business?

The Definition

The best way to define the two, is to show an actual example. Have a look at the image below. The red area indicates paid advertisements (PPC) and the green area reflects organic results (SEO, not paid for).

Now that you've seen what it looks like, here's a proper description.

PPC is an advertising model where you pay only if users click on your advertisement. These paid advertisements appear when people search for the term the advert targets. So you only pay when a visitor actually visits your website.

SEO is the process of optimizing your website for natural search engine results, without paying the search engine companies. So if you're on the first page of Google for a highly searched keyword and a few thousand people click on your result every month, you won't pay a cent to Google.

The Best Option - PPC or SEO?

Each of these online strategies have advantages and disadvantages. The one best suited for you is dependent on both your business and your own current position. Like any investment, sometimes you need short-term gains, and sometimes you're better off with a long-term strategy.

PPC Benefits

PPC is immediate. You log on to Google AdWords, create a campaign, choose your keywords and you're set. The moment you're finished setting up your campaign, your ads will appear. Depending on the quality of your ad you could immediately appear on the first page of Google for a particular search term.

This makes it easier to measure R.O.I. and see whether people searching for that term actually convert to sales. PPC is also ideal for business owners on a limited budget.

PPC is however, not a long term strategy. The more competitive the market gets, the more expensive you'll end up paying for your campaigns. Also, a PPC campaign needs to be consistently monitored and managed to make sure you're getting the best possible R.O.I.

SEO Benefits

SEO is a long term strategy, requires a bigger budget and does not yield immediate results. This sounds very demotivating, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

By consistently doing SEO you grow your online reputation and you get better conversions in the long run. In fact, organic search engine results can convert 20% and more than paid for advertisements.

Once you're in a good position, it's a lot easier and more cost effective to maintain it .

The Final Verdict

Now you know the benefits of each strategy. PPC to get quick short-term results, and SEO if you want sustainable long-term results and completely dominate your competition!

But is there an even better strategy? Yes!

Opt for both. You can focus on one or the other. At least you're getting returns immediately as well as ensuring your business's future is set and on the right course. The only downfall with this strategy is it would be more expensive to focus on both. But if you're serious about business, this is definitely an option for you.

Have you ever had a PPC or SEO campaign done by professionals for your website? What results did you experience? If not, why have you never tried it? Tell us in the comments below...

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