Do you know the important differences between organic search results achieved through SEO, and those achieved through PPC? If it’s not clear to you or your business, this post is a must-read.

Our good friend Steve Pitchford from Search Optimizers (a top-notch SEO agency in Southern California) has done an incredible job laying out the differences and relationship between them in the post below:

SEO and PPC: Opposing Forces or a Match Made in Heaven?

SEO and PPC: Opposing Forces or a Match Made in HeavenThere are two main ways to achieve visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs): organic listings achieved through website search engine optimization (SEO) and paid listings achieved with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Many businesses erroneously believe that the front page of a SERP is the only page, and it doesn’t matter how you get there, but studies consistently show that search engine users know the difference between organic results and paid ads, and that the traffic sources are separate markets. So how do you know which one is right for your business (or none or both!)? In fact, they are highly complementary options. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each.

PPC has many benefits; it is extremely well-suited to short-term campaigns, both due to the instant results and the highly detailed trackability of the data from start to finish. Every keyword choice, very specific (or broad!) target audience, click, call, site visit, and conversion is measurable. PPC campaigns offer a great way to test and fine-tune marketing strategies and landing pages, and to increase brand awareness quickly. It provides a quick and straightforward way to get the visibility you want for the product or service you are offering. But PPC has downsides, too. Every click costs, so the only way to lower your cost per acquisition is to improve your conversion rate by optimizing the way you purchase keywords. In our experience, most SMBs don’t have the time, passion and knowledge to do this. Therefore, we recommend they get referred to a capable and proven outside resource to manage their campaign. Another often unknown fact to consider is that the PPC traffic pool is much smaller than the organic pool; so you are working with a more limited audience the majority of which is aware that the rankings are advertisements. Click costs tend to rise over time with the auction system, especially for popular and competitive keywords, so even the same campaign can steadily cost more to maintain the same visibility. And of course, should your company’s PPC budget shrink or temporarily disappear, there is an immediate and commensurate drop in visibility.

SEO’s strengths are numerous; the ranking positions and resulting visibility gained are lasting. Searchers trust the organic results more, and the volume of organic traffic is significantly higher on Google, Bing, and Yahoo As search engine credibility grows over time, more rankings and better, more valuable and competitive keywords become accessible, requiring only patience and a good strategy. Once the ROI tipping point is reached, the cost per lead/conversion tends to go steadily down with organic traffic. Rankings attributable to SEO, if cultivated and maintained, become part of the website’s value. SEO’s weaknesses include a long lead time to get significant results; rankings can sometimes take months of expert cultivation to appear and then must be maintained to prevent rankings slippage. For SMBs who cannot afford a 6-figure SEO expert, an outside company is usually employed to keep up with search engine algorithm changes (400-600 per year) and your competition’s strategies. The most popular free tracking tool, Google Analytics, also masks much of organic keyword data, so detailed tracking and reports (outside of rankings information) must be focused on pages, not keywords.

Due to those opposing strengths and weaknesses, SEO and PPC are great together. Using them in tandem gives you the opportunity to:

              • Invest in both short- and long-term visibility; run marketing blitzes for new offers or products and have ongoing, affordable, great visibility for your company’s bread-and-butter products and services
              • Fine-tune website pages for user experience with PPC tracking
              • Perfect content strategy and offers for both strategies using PPC testing and results
              • Test and research SEO keywords in PPC (this has limits, but valuable insight can be gained)
              • Long-term, more control over online marketing budget with high-impact results

Ultimately, have the ability to dominate the entire SERP as needed, providing unmatched opportunities for brand awareness and PR campaigns

Want to learn more? Get in touch with SEO Expert Steve Pitchford from Search Optimizers to discuss SEO. Or, contact us to learn more about PPC.