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SEO vs. Pay Per Click

Traditional Search Engine Optimization vs Pay Per Click

So you’ve created a Web site. Now what? Developing an online marketing campaign is much more involved than simply having your name out there on the Web. There are literally thousands of people offering services just like yours and it is important to develop a strategy that lends credibility to your online presence and sets you above your competitors. If your Web site is not generating leads or reaching targeted traffic that results in clients, your Web site is not functioning as the effective marketing tool it could be.

In the world of online marketing, search engines rule. Search engines provide Internet users with the ability to find specific information based on an index of available Web sites that are ranked according to the relevancy of what a person is searching for. In other words, search engines are the vehicles through which people will find you. Search engines, therefore, have the potential to drive targeted traffic to your site if you rank high on their results pages (see Helping Spiders Crawl Through Your Web Site: What You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization).

So how do you secure a top ranked position with the search engines? The truth is, you can’t. Not unless you are willing to pay the search engine money to display a link to your site when search engine users type in a specific set of keywords. And even then, your site will not be listed with the sites that rank high organically (without having to pay). Rather, your site will be set apart and labeled as a “Sponsored Link.”

Having sponsored links as part of an Internet marketing campaign is not a bad thing, but it is important to know how Internet users view paid results listings and how they view organic listings. It is also important to understand the differences between optimizing your site to be found organically and paying to have your site rank high as a sponsored link. Both of these strategies may be utilized in your online marketing efforts.


The process of purchasing a high-ranking position on a sponsored links list generated from targeted keyword searches is called Pay-per-Click (PPC). PPC costs you nothing unless someone clicks on your sponsored link—hence the name. The amount you pay for each click is determined before your site is listed and you often have to bid with other businesses that are seeking to be ranked high for certain keyword searches. While the cost of each click can be as cheap as $.01, bidding for competitive keywords can quickly run your bill to upwards of $50 per click. For a small business, or a company with a limited marketing budget, this price is steep.

But is it worth it?

That depends on what your online marketing strategy is. PPC will get you a lot of recognition and targeted traffic fast. But that traffic will end when you cease to use PPC advertising as your site will no longer be listed when people type in your keywords. PPC can be an effective strategy to use if you want to start building brand recognition and begin to establish a significant presence on the Web, but it is generally not a long-term online marketing strategy.

One reason that PPC is not a long-term marketing strategy is because Internet users tend to view links generated organically as more credible than links that pay to be recognized by the search engines. This is due to savvy surfers who recognize that PPC advertising is just that—advertising. Most Web users are not looking to be “sold” a service as much as they are looking to “find” a service. This does not mean that those seeking to find are not willing to buy. Rather, it is a subtle difference in how Web users perceive the intention of Web sites that pay to be seen versus those that do not pay to be seen.

Other reasons that PPC is generally not an enduring strategy of online marketing is that it can get expensive and is easily abused (see Don’t Get Clicked Off: Understanding the Risks of Buying Pay-per-Click Advertising). PPC gets expensive when you have to pay each time your link is clicked; this adds up to a significant amount of money every year. It is also not cost effective if you have a large number of people clicking on your PPC link that don’t translate into clients. When this happens, either your keywords need to be better defined to generate more targeted traffic to your site or you need to think of a new strategy to reach potential clients online. When employing an online marketing campaign, it is important to measure the return on your investment to see if the venture is, in fact, worthwhile.

PPC advertising is also easily abused. Your competitors, and even firms that offer PPC advertising, can click your link an indefinite number of times to either generate money for themselves or force you to run out of money so that your competitor can take your place. These are highly unethical practices and search engines are getting better at detecting this type of behavior, but PPC abuse is a risk you take when you invest in this type of advertising.

Search Engine Optimization

The process of optimizing your site to rank high organically on search engine results pages is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To design a site that ranks high on search engines, you must understand how search engines work. Search engines utilize spiders that crawl through known Web sites to determine what a site is about. Once this is determined, search engines catalog the information and rank each page by a perceived relevancy to keyword searches. A lot of targeted traffic can be driven to your site for free by the search engines if your site ranks high in these organic search results listings.

Optimizing your site for search engines is a strategic process of creating strong content, design and function. This not only makes your site easy to catalog by the search engines, but it helps ensure that visitors to your site have a positive experience.

Since high organic search result rankings are associated with a strong relationship with the search engines, optimizing your site takes time. It takes time to develop a quality site that is appealing to search engine spiders and search engine human users. It takes time to develop a strategy to draw a targeted audience to your site. And it takes time to see results for your efforts.

While the main drawback of SEO is that it takes time to see results, the main advantage is that you see long-standing results. A strategically developed SEO plan can place your site in the place that is most likely to be clicked by search engine users—at the top of organically generated results.

While the initial cost of optimizing your Web site for search engines can be expensive, there is no additional cost for the traffic that visits your site. In addition, you can track the return on your investment dollar-for-dollar, see who’s visiting your site, what pages they’re looking at and determine the conversion rate of your visitors.

When optimizing your site for search engines, it is important to understand that there are ethical and unethical ways of achieving high organic rankings in the search engines (see The Black Hat of SEO: Unveiling the Bogus Claims of Bad SEO Firms). Web sites can be penalized for utilizing unethical SEO tactics on their sites. This can indefinitely impair your ability to develop a strong Internet marketing campaign.

As you develop your online marketing strategy, it is important to realize that the leading methods of generating targeted search traffic to your site are PPC advertising and SEO. Each method serves a different purpose and functions in a different way. The main differences between PPC advertising and SEO are:

  • PPC advertising charges you each time someone clicks on your link; SEO does not.
  • PPC advertising generates temporary results; SEO generates lasting results.
  • PPC advertising is initially cheap; SEO is initially expensive.
  • PPC advertising will generate targeted traffic to your site through paid listings; SEO will generate more targeted traffic to your site through organic listings

Combining PPC advertising with a site you just developed for SEO is often a useful strategy. This allows you to generate targeted traffic to your site while it is being optimized for organic search. As your site begins to show up at the top of organic listings, you can stop purchasing PPC advertising and rely on the traffic generated by your organic ranking.

Remember, now that you have a Web site, it is important to make sure it is accessible to people who need your services. This is where SonicSEO.com comes in. Our professional team of SEO experts will help you not only design a site that will appeal to your potential clients, but also make sure your site ranks high in the search engines’ organic listings. Developing a long-term strategy for online marketing can help you increase the number of people who see your site and maximize the return on your investment by reaching targeted audiences that are seeking your services. Contact us today at 888-437-3737 to get started on your Internet marketing campaign today!