Internet Marketing: What Works Best – SEO or PPC?

What’s the best way to drive more traffic to your website, SEO(Search Engine Optimization) or PPC(Pay-Per-Click)?

Small business owners looking for the best way to drive more prospects to their websites and blogs often find themselves caught between choosing PPC advertising or investing in search engine optimization. So which is right for you?

Does PPC Advertising Still Work?

Many small business advice and marketing columns have slammed PPC(Pay-Per-Click) advertising in the last couple of years, asking why anyone would pay to advertise on the web when there are so many ‘free’ options out there today.

Sadly most of the other choices being promoted really aren’t free if done right and done on a large enough scale to be effective and produce any significant amount of revenues.

In fact many online marketing ‘gurus’ still swear by PPC advertising as one of their best and favorite channels. Those who are experienced at using Google Adwords and Facebook ads love the predictability that they offer. These types of paid internet ads allow entrepreneurs to market based on hard stats and metrics and accurately calculate ROI.

However, the real beauty of Pay-Per-Click is how easy it is to turn on traffic and generate instant results. Set up a campaign today and you can have leads today. Need more leads tomorrow? Simply increase your bid rate for each visitor to your web pages. Have too much business coming in to handle effectively or going on vacation? Just reduce your daily budget cap.

These features make PPC an excellent and virtually necessary component for business owners promoting upcoming events or who are launching new startups and who need to get money flowing in the door as quickly as possible. Plus it makes a good filler to make sure sales teams always have some hot leads coming in.

Those who still aren’t convinced of the effectiveness of PPC simply need to perform a couple searches and see who is actually still using it. Search for ‘PPC’ on Google and you’ll find giants like Microsoft and Google itself coming up in the ads sections. You will also frequently find lead companies using it for generating internet leads which they sell to businesses for big bucks.

PPC advertising doesn’t even have to be that expensive, with some keywords going for 50 cents or less per click. Of course if you want all of the traffic for a given keyword in a certain week you may have to crank up your bid quite a bit but that means being able to block out the competition entirely.

Unfortunately, one red flag which popped up in the last couple of weeks was GM’s pulling of over $10 million a year in Facebook ads, saying that at least 50% of users never click on those types of ads at all, much to the frustration of Mark Zuckerberg and his looming IPO. However, GM is still forking out $30 million to maintain its Facebook pages, which we all know are critical for good SEO.

Has SEO Replaced PPC as the Best Online Marketing Strategy?

There is no question that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is becoming increasingly important and has certainly been the dominating strategy of many companies marketing themselves on the web in the last two years. It is no secret that consumer shopping habits and responses to marketing are changing rapidly. The public is generally fed up of being bombarded by advertising and go out of their way to avoid it, no matter how sweet the promises being made are. They would rather just be able to quickly find the products or services they need wherever they are, whenever they want them. This is what good SEO achieves by getting businesses to the top of Google and Bing search results for the most commercially valuable search terms.

Free SEO is Essentially a Myth

Sure solo entrepreneurs can post their own articles online for free set up free WordPress blogs, negotiate backlinks and do their own keyword selection for free with Google’s Keyword Tool and even write their own SEO rich web copy. However, in order to do this effectively and in a large enough volume to have a big impact while keeping up with the search engine’s almost daily changes to ranking algorithms it requires an investment. That is unless a business owner has nothing else to do but SEO and doesn’t need to be involved in any other tasks. At a minimum the help of a quality freelance writer and a couple of assistants to handle data entry is highly recommended.

Don’t think about going cheap here or thinking you can scam the search engines with ‘Black Hat’ tactics either. Representatives of both Bing and Google have openly said they are actively hunting down and punishing those involved in these techniques and are continually rewarding those with the most original and valuable content with better rankings.

One main difference between PPC and SEO is that while some businesses can launch themselves on the web and enjoy a windfall of organic traffic from the search engines SEO is generally slower to produce high volume results. It can certainly deliver a much higher ROI in the long run when the benefits are added up but it can require patience. Blog posts, articles, press releases and backlinks can continue to produce leads and traffic as well as constantly boosting SEO and branding month after month once created and published but new startups need to allow some time for the effects to kick in.

SEO vs. PPC: The Final Bout

So which is right for you?

Both PPC advertising and SEO have their advantages and a truly unbiased marketing professional will tell you that both should have a place in your marketing mix. PPC can help you get more business now and provide regular bumps and an avenue for quickly capitalizing on trends and buzz, while SEO and a solid content marketing schedule can help bolster ROI and lower the cost of marketing in the long run while helping to build email opt-in lists and social followers and fans.

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