Organic SEO and Paid Search: Friends or Foes?

Your online venture entails that you take part in the search marketing industry, but before you delve in, you need to know what you will be dealing with: SEO and PPC.

SEO Vs PPC Basics

Lest we get lost in a mire of confusion and optimization acronyms, let us delve into the basics of the two most commonly used methods for generating search traffic:

Search engine optimization (SEO or organic search) — Basically tweaking content quality, HTML elements, and linking behavior of your website to become more visible to search engines. The main objective is to reach the top spot of search engine results pages (SERPs), as the top results acquire the most traffic from search engine users. SEO heavily relies on keyword research in content strategy for proper traffic targeting. Another crucial facet is link building for improved PageRank – the measure of a website’s authority based on the number and quality of other sites linking to it.

Pay per click (PPC or paid search) — PPC ads are display- (advertisers pay for fixed placements) or bid-based (advertisers outbid each other for placement) ads that appear on high ranking webpages or SERPs. Instead of PageRank, PPC metrics employ a quality score. As advertises pay for the placement, the ads are certain to appear instead of having to compete with other search results as in what happens with SEO. In bid-based PPC such as Google AdWords, however, advertising competition comes from other bidders targeting the same ad keywords.

Both are strategies employed to increase traffic from search engines through keywords and authority or quality. Webpage content drives SERP placement in SEO, while ad bids dictate ad placement in PPC.

Just One or Both?

An evident quandary for the fledgling marketer is which one to invest in: SEO or PPC? SEO can drive as much as 70% of search engine traffic to any website, but its conversion rates are lower compared to PPC traffic, where a well-placed and well–worded ad can convert 1 out of every 2 visitors into sales.

The best approach is to use both, but there may be cases where it is best to focus on one more than another.

SEO Vs PPC: Which and When

It may be rule of thumb to engage in both SEO and PPC to reasonable extents. When deciding in which one to invest more capital into, however, you need to determine if you want to market to a broader audience or to a more specific market.

SEO reaches broad audiences because what search users generally see is content and not sales pitches. You can receive visitors only passively interested in the information you offer in your website as well as people who are eager to purchase online. On the other hand, PPC reaches a more specific audience that is already inclined to engage in ecommerce because what enticed them to follow the ads is a sales pitch.

The debacle on SEO Vs PPC more or less revolves around what search users respond to: SEO traffic responds to content while PPC traffic responds to ads. Keeping this bottom-line in mind, and depending on what you wish to achieve, you can invest more heavily on one over the other.