SEO vs. PPC: The Benefits of Going Organic

August 14th, 2013



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Internet marketers often reach a point where they feel they must choose between search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC). Which one is better suited for the business model? Which one is more effective in driving traffic, leads and sales? Should they be used simultaneously or in isolation? These are just a few of the questions we will address in this article. In particular, we will focus on the advantages of using SEO versus PPC.

But first, some definitions are in order:

  • SEO — Search engine optimization is when you modify or improve your website to rank higher in the organic (regular) listings on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. With SEO, your rankings will be determined by such things as link popularity and content relevance.
  • PPC — Pay per click is the paid approach to search engine marketing. This is when you pay a certain amount for every click you receive through a search engine. Your ad will appear in the shaded “Sponsored Results” section of the listing page. With PPC, your rankings will be determined by the amount you bid on keywords and the click-through rate generated by your ads.

SEO and PPC have certain traits in common. They both capitalize on the broad reach of search engines. They both involve using keywords and phrases to drive targeted traffic. And they can both be used by all types of companies, big and small. But the similarities end there.

Organic Benefits: 3 Areas Where SEO Beats PPC

When considering the SEO versus PPC question, you must weigh the pros and cons on both sides of the fence. Pay per click has the advantage of speed. You could start seeing click-through traffic within minutes of launching a PPC campaign. But search engine optimization has even more advantages. Here are the top three advantages of SEO over PPC:

1. SEO provides lasting benefits.

Pay per click comes on like a light switch. You’ll get clicks and visitors as soon as you activate the campaign. It goes off like a switch too, the minute you stop paying for those clicks.

Search engine optimization works differently. It offers lasting benefits. To improve your organic search engine rankings, you need to develop keyword-rich content and a strong linking profile. It may take a while to accomplish these things, but the results outlast the efforts. So in the long run, SEO is a better value than PPC.

2. SEO forces website improvements.

With pay per click, you get the visitors you pay for. With search engine optimization, you get the visitors you earn. This is a key distinction between paid and organic search marketing. With SEO, you attract visitors by developing a high-quality website that meets their needs in some way. It takes work to accomplish such a goal. At first glance, this may seem like a disadvantage. But it’s actually a good thing. SEO forces you to do things you should be doing anyway (things like content development, website usability and online networking). Your website will come out of it better than when you started.

3. SEO can capitalize on social media.

Nobody can deny the extensive reach of social media. The $16 billion IPO of Facebook underscores this fact. Business owners and Internet marketers are wise to capitalize on the seemingly endless reach of these websites.

Social media can’t do much to support a PPC campaign. But it can do wonders for your SEO program. It can help you promote your content to a targeted audience, increasing the number of links you acquire from other websites. Link popularity is a key ranking factor in all of the major search engines. Social media sites can help you increase your link popularity and, by extension, your search engine rankings.

The process can be repeated an infinite number of times. It’s a pattern. Publish something interesting, useful or insightful on your website. Tweet about the new content, or share it through your Facebook page. This will drive instant web traffic to your new content. And some of those visitors will be bloggers, journalists and publishers who end up linking to you.

Pay Per Click Still Worth Considering

This article focuses on the benefits of SEO versus PPC. But we are not suggesting you should ignore pay per click entirely. Here are some general “rules” to keep in mind:

  • If your website is part of your long-range marketing plan, you should incorporate SEO into the plan.
  • Make it a regular part of your website development program.
  • With SEO, you are planting the seeds for long-term visibility.
  • If you need more search engine traffic in the meantime, you can always implement a PPC campaign as well.
  • Use pay per click in addition to search engine optimization, not in lieu of it.

PPC marketing can help you drive targeted visitors to your website in a hurry. So it certainly has its place. You just have to remember the downside. With pay per click, you will always have to pay for those clicks. The moment you cancel the campaign, the traffic stream dries up.

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