SEO vs. PPC: Choosing or Sharing for a New Site

SEO or PPC? The decision is a marketing conundrum for many businesses wondering which will provide the best ROI. Is it better to increase the spend on PPC campaigns or should the focus be on optimization? There are no easy answers, but if the intentions are to create a significant online presence then both methods should get some attention.

According to a report by Jupiter research, 81% of all Internet users find what they’re looking for online by using a search engine. That’s a significant number given the hundreds of millions of people in this country who use the Internet daily, and if you’re competing for real estate on page one of search engine results then strategy is the name of the game. Most Internet marketing firms will tell you that in order to achieve gains you need a balanced mix of SEO and PPC. Both aim to drive traffic, and if you’re launching an enterprise ecommerce site, or any site for that matter, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and hurdles of both.

So here’s a little high level discourse to help identify the pros and cons.

If you’re looking for quick traffic and immediate exposure look no further. PPC campaigns are easily adjustable and provide the ability to start and stop efforts based on the success of your placements. Using paid search also makes it easy to track and analyze click through and conversion rates, which offers good insight into how well ads are working so it’s easy to monitor and modify accordingly.

Making quick gains in traffic also comes with a hefty price tag, which is why the marketing spend for paid campaigns is significantly higher than what generally gets allocated for SEO. Once you stop spending, that qualified traffic also goes away, meaning the long-term value diminishes greatly. Finally, when considering sheer volume, paid ads only represent about 10% of the total click through after any search engine query.


If paid search only accounts for 10% of click through then the remaining 90% are there as a result of organic (seo) optimization and site design/content. Simply stated, better organic optimization means more traffic. It doesn’t matter if you operate an eCommerce store or manage the site for your local library; higher positioning from search results means more site visits. Don’t expect immediate results from SEO though. A thoughtful and well-researched optimization campaign has to be paired with a quality site in order to have a chance of breaking into the top 10 search results. Even after months of effort, there are still no guarantees.

The Implication
When considering a site’s long-term stability it’s surprising that more companies don’t dedicate additional resources to SEO efforts. While it’s true that even a well-constructed optimization plan will take months to produce substantial results, many companies still focus on immediate satisfaction rather than spending time and money on keyword research and good link building.  While it might seem ominous to compete for organic positioning when so many big brands rein the first page of placement, the gains that can be made by a successful SEO effort can solidify a prominent ranking. Down the road that means saved money that can be put to good use elsewhere.

The long term cost benefit of good organic optimization is that you will ultimately drive a significant portion of all new visits through this channel and those visits will cost much less then paid visits. The benefits of a PPC campaign make it ideal for supplementing the success of site optimization, and pay-per-click is a great way to test new keywords and spread promotional messages, especially for products.

Bottom line, there’s a difference between balance and priority, and in this case priority takes precedent as the better value in search marketing.

Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.

DATE: Dec 28, 2010
AUTHOR: HotWax Systems
Enterprise eCommerce, SEO, PPC