Is SEO better than PPC?

One of the questions that is often asked with regards to search engine optimization is if SEO is better than PPC.  This question is usually asked by someone who understands the marketing power of search engines, and is interested in exploring how it can help their business.  The reason that search engines are such an effective method of marketing is that the people who are seeing your listing are actively searching for the products or services you offer.  Think of it like your listing on google is an advertisement, and it is being seen by potential customers.  This is the same way that you had to be seen by potential customers if it was on television or in a magazine.  When you use other forms of marketing to position your ad in front of potential customers, there is a large amount of wasted messaging.  This is because you can leverage interests of potential groups of people only so much, and from that link you need to simply rely on hoping that people who are currently searching for your products see the ad with in this medium.  For example, if you sell products that would appeal to hunters you may decide to take out an ad in a fishing magazine, assuming that the large portion of that group of people would also have an interest in hunting.  Some of the people who see your ad are going to be interested in it, and others will not.  When you extend your advertising to publications that are only defined by a geographic area, you are going to get an extreme amount of wasted messaging because not everyone within a specific region is searching for what you sell.  For many years this was the accepted loss portion of marketing, where in order to reach your target audience you had to cast a wide net. Search engines changed that process by filtering results to only be within the confines of what the person is searching for.  If they are looking for hunting supplies, only stores that sell hunting supplies will be returned to them.  The efficiency of this medium has made it become the starting point for around 80% of all decisions that are made today.  Even though people are still exposed to other forms of marketing on a continual basis, we find that when they are deciding on something to purchase, they almost always start with a search engine.  For this reason, businesses have come to realize that they must be positioned on that search engine whenever someone looks for the products they sell.  Whenever you have a person who is actively searching for something to purchase as opposed to simply being exposed to an ad which the business hopes that you remember when you are ready to purchase, you will see that conversion rates are far higher than the person who is actively searching.  This is yet another reason why search engine marketing is so critical.

There are only two ways to be presented in search engine results.  You can have your business presented in the organic sections that are delivered using an algorithm to determine what position you listing gets, or you can pay for the person to see your ad on the top or side of the organic results.  The quandary that many marketing executives face is if they are not showing up in the first few results that are listed organically, then you must pay in order to be presented at all.  Statistics show that most people will choose from the first few results that are displayed for them and make their decision.  They will not go past the first page, and ultimately will choose from the filtered list of 10 web sites that are displayed.  Statistics actually show that almost 50% of people only click the first result it is given.  That traffic percentage it’s cut in half with every position lower on the page, with less than 1% of traffic being delivered to results that are on page two.  SEO is the process of manipulating the website and links in order to gain higher positions within these searches.  The drawback to SEO is that it takes time to build up the trust level from the search engine, and usually first page results will not be seen for a lengthy period of time.  This is why search engine optimization is considered to be an investment in the future, because during the process of gaining those higher rankings you are moving through regions of the search engine listings but still do not provide traffic.  Moving up from page 10 to page 9 is not going to give you any customers, but once you have reached the first page you will begin to get traffic to your website from that listing.  The benefits of search engine optimization are long-term, and will eventually pay off if the company performing the SEO is able to achieve their goal.

Paid search on the search engine listings is an auction system.  This means that if you want to be presented to you are going to need to pay more per click and your competitors will.  This is going to drive a single click to your website and charge you an amount for that click.  You must pay attention if you are paying for too many clicks to turn a profit, and this can become a losing strategy very quickly.  This is because any competitor who is in the same boat as you and not able to develop organic rankings, this is their only other option.  This means that the prices that are paid per click are usually higher than they should be.  In highly competitive industries like personal injury law, you can find the price per click approaching $200, and people are willing to pay it because if they had a single client with a large settlement then they make money.  What must be decided is how much you are willing to invest into search engine optimization for a future pay-off vs. how much you are willing to pay to get a single person to call you.  Statistics have shown that the organic listings on search engines will converge to actual customers at about twice the rate paid listings will.  We have to assume that this is because people believe that the search engine is deciding which businesses are the best at what they do, and not trusting an ad on the same page to be a vote of confidence.  All of these factors can determine whether you believe that SEO does better than PPC for your brand.  If you are only interested in an immediate click through, then there is a good chance that PPC will achieve your goals.  After the budget has run out, your ad will no longer be shown to potential customers, so branding and people remembering who you are is not able to be factored in to PPC.   SEO on the other hand will present your brand to all customers who search, every time they search.  This stands to the name recognition for people who are performing multiple searches or at different times.

There is no definitive answer as far as which is better SEO or PPC.  Each has pros and cons that must be considered in order to effectively achieve the goal you are searching to achieve.  PPC has the ability to achieve results far faster, but in the long run you are going to pay significantly more for those positions.  If you would like to know more about how we can help your brand to be positioned on search engines using both SEO and PPC, contact us today.

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