There are two main branches of search engine marketing –
- Organic SEO – the practice of getting a site to rank highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs) by optimizing its content for targeted keywords, increasing its presence in social networks, and getting other relevant sites to link back to it.
- PPC (pay-per-click) Advertising – the practice of paying to have contextual ads displayed within the “Sponsored Results” section of search engine results.
Although many bloggers and marketers have tried to draw comparisons between the two, attempting to deem one better than the other, the fact is they both have a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. So how do you know which one would yield the best results in your situation?
It really comes down to your budget, advertising objectives, and time restraints.
Long-Term Standings vs. Instant Gratification
Organic SEO can require a lot of persistence and patience; there are no guaranteed timeframes and there is always a possibility that you simply won’t be able to rank in the #1 spot for the keywords you’re going after. However, when done consistently and properly, organic SEO can position your site at the top of the SERPs for years to come, with very little ongoing investments required. The permanent benefits offered by SEO can lead to an exceptional long-term ROI that can’t be achieved through any other online or offline marketing channel. After depositing funds into a PPC account and configuring the campaign settings all you have to do is let it run and you’ll have traffic coming to the site at a measurable pace within the same day. However, once the campaign stops running there are no residual rewards.
Control and Analysis
Adjusting a PPC campaign is as simple as analysing stats and changing a few preferences in the campaign configuration. You can measure the results of changes instantaneously and react accordingly because everything that is happening is transparent in real time. On the other hand, changing course in an organic SEO campaign requires a lot of research and patience. Extracting useful interpretations from monthly traffic reports is much more difficult than comparing two ad copies to see which one creates a higher click-through rate (CTR). Furthermore, the effects of changes in on-site optimization or off-site linking do not truly become apparent for at least a few weeks to a few months.
What Situation Are You In?
If you’re running a campaign that is time-sensitive and you need to boost traffic levels as soon as possible to capitalize on a current industry trend, PPC advertising would be the most suitable solution. You only pay when someone clicks on your ads, and you have the tools needed to measure conversion rates and increase your ROI in the short-term. If you are looking for a way to build long-term presence in your industry and advertise your site at a lower cost over a longer period of time, organic SEO would be more ideal.
Author Bio: Lance Schommer is a search engine marketing expert with expertise in PPC data analysis and organic SEO. He currently blogs for IronMonk Solutions, a New York-based SEM firm that specializes in content distribution, social networking, and SEO.
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