Posted January 26th, 2007 by Pablo Palatnik
So, you’re asking yourself the question online marketers are asking themselves today. Where should I spend most of my time, money, and efforts — SEO or PPC? The battle has begun.
The conflict begins with too many choices. It’s easy to feel lost when new forms of online advertising are constantly emerging. So, where do you start? You hear about social media networks, pay-per-call, blogs and innumerable others as they develop into bigger markets, but do any of these choices make sense? Here’s the reality – no matter how many other avenues pop up, the engines still maintain the largest market share of all searches online. It is there that you’d be wisest to invest your money.
Round 1 – Time. When considering which form of Internet marketing to choose, your biggest determinants should be time and efficiency. Depending on how time-sensitive your objective is, it is important to know that the quickest way to drive traffic is through PPC (pay-per-click). You build your campaign, and with the click of a button, you’re getting traffic. Changes are immediate, and you have control. SEO (search engine optimization) is quite the opposite, although certainly worth the effort. A couple of things to keep in mind — it is very important to be patient. Due to the dynamic nature of the engines, time projections are difficult to make. You make a change, and it often takes months to see results. Also, you need to keep in mind that optimizing your Web site is an ongoing effort. As the nature of search engine algorithms, your site might need “adjustments.” But the end result — the possibility of increasing your site’s natural rankings and getting a high volume of free traffic — is well worth the time spent
Round 2 – Money. You often hear people saying that “SEO is so expensive!” But is it really? Let’s compare it to PPC. Granted, SEO often requires a considerable upfront investment, but consider the payoff. An optimization professional recommends (and often makes) changes that are intended to increase a site’s natural rankings — which translates into free traffic. Although you can control your site’s rankings via PPC, you will always have to pay for them, which most often ends up being many times more expensive than the SEO investment. Anyone can start a PPC campaign, but the challenge is getting your site ranked in the first pages of the engines. Having the first spot or even the 5th or 6th in Google for your keywords is like having a huge billboard in the middle of Times Square. The traffic is intense and the exposure is priceless! We can say the same about a great ranking on a PPC campaign, but remember one thing — you will always have to pay for it. Free clicks in sponsored search? Never.
Round 3 – Effort We know SEO takes more time and effort than creating and maintaining a PPC campaign. Yet, it’s important to recognize that a considerable effort is required with both. Optimizing a Web site is like trying to climb to the top of a mountain. Once you start, you can’t stop until you reach the top. You work for hours at a time on optimization, with your goal in sight, and then rest while the engine crawlers find and assess your improvements. You see the results of those changes via movement of your site’s natural rankings, and then start up the mountain, again. The creation of a PPC campaign takes only a few steps — but to make it successful, consistent maintenance is required. Rather than investing hours of work at once with down time in between, PPC requires almost daily attention and maintenance. It may look simple from the outside, but there are so many small things can make a huge difference in the success of a campaign. This is the rivalry of the Internet marketing world and getting more and more intense. Who’s watching? We all are.
Each tactic, whether it is SEO or PPC, has its positives and negatives. Consider the following:
1 – Business Growth. SEO and PPC have opened the doors to small business and fueled fast- growing enterprises. A company can make a name for itself in no time if it pays enough per keyword to be in Google’s top ranked positions or has a better optimized Web site than its competitors. For e-commerce clients, this has been an incredible way to market and sell their products. Think about how much renting a locale can cost a business per month and how much traffic will actually go into your store. Now, think about the traffic that exists online, in which you can target either by city, state, region, or country, and how much more affordable it can be!
2 – Brand Awareness. When launching an Internet marketing campaign, you’re not only marketing your product or service but acting on a form of public relations. Many PR firms are reaching out to Internet marketing firms to help their client’s efforts. When deciding whether or not PPC is viable, consider both the cost per click, and the number of people who will see your ad (whether or not they clicked). It’s free exposure, and what’s better?
3 – Traffic. Traffic will make or break your online business. If you’re not generating traffic, you’re not generating sales. The engines can deliver the highest volume of traffic if positioned in the top rankings. You already know this! Now, the important factor is driving qualified traffic to your Web site. This all comes down to the SEO and PPC determinants, such as choosing the right keywords, ads and other elements that are driving the traffic you want to ensure your online efforts are successful. One major factor of failing campaigns is insufficient research. Research is crucial to creating a winning campaign to compete in a growing market.
It’s time to start considering which type of marketing will best suit the needs of your business. If you’re still debating whether it’s the right time to get serious about marketing online, consider that your competition is most likely making their presence felt there already.