Many companies have trouble deciding whether to invest marketing dollars in paid search marketing (PPC primarily) or organic search marketing (SEO primarily).
For many companies, the correct answer is to spend money on both, because PPC and SEO are complementary marketing activities, not competing ones.
SEO often takes a long time to “kick in.” Your company may not see significant improvements in organic search visibility until a program has been in place for several months – possibly longer if your niche has a lot of strong competition.
PPC, in contrast, works immediately, allowing companies to “jump the line” and become visible on Google and Bing literally overnight. However, relying exclusively on PPC could still be a mistake, since many users are more inclined to click on organic results than ads.
2. Conversion Potential
Even though SEO is likely to garner more clickthroughs than PPC, people clicking on ads tend to be more likely to make a purchase or generate a sales lead. No matter how well an SEO’s keyword strategy accounts for user intent, organic results attract users with many different levels of interest or types of interest. In contrast, users attracted to a PPC ad are very likely to be in the market.
Although this data point makes a strong case for PPC alone, SEO complements ads by attracting buyers who are earlier-on in the buying cycle, or who may not be in the market at all today. A well-rounded Internet marketing strategy reaches out to all types of prospects to keep the pipeline full and flowing.
3. Establishing Credibility
Well executed PPC and SEO campaigns not only produce leads and e-commerce revenue, they also potentially enhance your company’s image -- “potentially” because users react differently to ads. Some see them as signs of strength, a few may react negatively, and perhaps the majority has no strong opinion one way or another.
In contrast, there is little doubt that users regard high organic search visibility as a big positive. Being on page one of Google for a relevant term leads users to conclude that the firm is an industry leader, that it is doing something right. Greater organic visibility means greater credibility means more qualified clickthroughs on organic and paid links – when users see a strong organic presence, they have more confidence to convert on your ads.
How Much PPC, How Much SEO?
If this article has opened your mind to the idea of conducting both PPC and SEO campaigns, the next – and perhaps more difficult – question is: How should we divide the investment?
We’ll answer this question in an upcoming article, but for now, keep in mind that PPC and SEO campaigns are highly fluid, meaning they can be ramped up, ramped down and refocused quickly. Thus, regardless of how you set up your campaigns initially, you always have the ability to shift dollars and effort toward the components that are delivering the best results … assuming, of course, you are accurately measuring your incoming leads or e-commerce revenue.