SEO vs. Pay Per Click. Which one would you choose?

Two of the most talked about internet marketing strategies are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising. One of the questions we here at Vertical Measures get asked the most is, “Should I invest in SEO or should I invest in pay per click (PPC) advertising?” The short answer is “yes”.

Everyone is after the same goal: how to get more people to visit your website. And how do you do that? Well, you have to be more visible to those who are looking for what you are selling. The best way to do that is to get onto page one of Google. But how? Is it better to be in the top 10 organic listing or the number one sponsored link position?

First let’s talk about the different between SEO and PPC. SEO is all about traffic: you’re focusing on driving traffic to your site. Offsite SEO, including link building, is meant to get more traffic. We like to say, “PPC is renting and link building is owning the house”. Why do we say that? Because strategic SEO, including link building, will generate permanent, one-way links from relevant, related websites. That will help with traffic. That’s a good thing in Google’s eyes. PPC on the other hand will give you links as long as you’re willing to pay top dollar when bidding for those top search terms. When you stop paying to be top bidder on the terms, you drop down on the sponsored ads links; stop your pay-per-click campaign altogether and those links go away. No links, no traffic.

Organic search results are considered to be much more reliable than PPC. Roughly 4 out of every 5 internet users will click on natural search results before they click on PPC (sponsored search results). In other words, 80% percent of internet searchers will click on a natural search result prior to or instead of a sponsored listing.

So that means SEO over PPC is the way to go, right? Not necessarily. Pay per click does have value when used in conjunction with other SEO tactics. First of all, the results are much more immediate. Pay today and see results tomorrow. Second, you have complete control over which keywords you’re ranking for because you’re bidding on specific keyword phrase. Third, you can also change your results on the fly: want to change how your sponsored ad appears? Log in, change it, and hit save. The results are immediate.

When it comes to SEO vs. PPC, it’s like anything else in life: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If your pay per click campaigns are converting into paying clients, why would you shut it down, even if you’re ranked #1 on Google in natural search results? If your link building and other SEO efforts have gotten you on page one of Google and you’re seeing the increased traffic, why would you stop driving traffic to your site? Focus on your overall internet marketing strategy, and you’ll see the two tactics can live in harmony. But I would choose SEO over PPC any day because it surely is a long term strategy! The effects of SEO are both longer lasting and cheaper than PPC. With PPC, the moment you stop your campaign the traffic dries up entirely. SEO on the other hand will continue to bring in traffic even if you stop SEO work on the site, although you will need to ensure that your SEO campaign keeps abreast of changes in the search engine algorithms.