I have heard the connotation that PPC (pay per click marketing) is like crack, that once you start you can’t stop using it, and for many businesses rightly so.
In all seriousness, the notion of the action / reward modality “if you pay/ your website ranks here” is so simple with its deep-rooted psychological and monetary advantages; the exorbitant investment is secondary to the results it produces. Quite simply, people pay for results…
Let’s just say that something about the monetary transactions and conversion that occur as a result of PPC (pay per click marketing) has a way of persuading those with the budget to keep on “renting those spots“ vs. “investing and owning those keywords and positions organically” in search engines.
It is fair to say that those who identify organic search as a preferred method of choice are in fact addicted to SEO?
Let’s investigate this further:
- PPC provides instant gratification for advertisers eager to drive traffic to their landing pages / paths or marketing message.
- It’s relatively easy to implement and testing keyword continuity can range from selecting an “exact match” or “broad match” phrase and then testing the consumer dynamic.
- The pages do not always have to have contextual relevance, therefore many of the elements of organic SEO and organic rankings *(which depend on relevance) can be eliminated; making PPC ideal for commerce.
But what About the Cons/Disadvantages of PPC?
- Pricing is not fixed and is driven on competitive variables such as the bid price of other competitors.
- You pay for every click “whether or not it converts to a sale, lead or quantified objective” which means that search engines win and you only win half the time when traffic converts.
- Once you stop paying, your ad gets pulled and it was as if you never existed until you have money in hand (ready to gain entry back in the VIP conversion club).
The Benefits/Advantages of SEO:
- It is the same search engine result pages consumer use to click through from PPC.
- Eight of ten clicks are on the non-sponsored “natural listings”.
- Getting there takes time, but once you’re there, remaining buoyant becomes less difficult.
The Cons/Disadvantages of SEO:
- The competition for natural results can be fierce (and unyielding).
- Not every site is willing to make the changes necessary, has the budget to compete or has a platform flexible enough to be conducive to SEO, so often aside from on page changes, information or site architecture requires enhancements or modification (which is costly).
- You will require a significant amount of time, money, content and links to gain competitive keyword positioning (which takes time, trust and authority); and each site gains and / or develops “domain authority” based on its own tipping point and time-line.
The reasons why someone would need either (SEO or PPC) is apparent, but just because one is easier than the other, does not make it a superior choice for positioning.
So, What’s Next, Both?
Rather than argue to infinity about the pros and cons of PPC or SEO, the reality is simple, they both stem from search engine traffic. The fact is, visibility and positioning equate to probability for conversion.
It’s either your competitors website or page ranking for a keyword or it is your website or web page! Based on the search phrase, your relative position, the snippet you use (either the PPC call to action or organic search engine snippet) mixed with the mood of the consumer determines how welcoming your page is for them to engage. Business goes where it is most welcome.
Most consumers equate a top ranking position with relevance; and where you rank directly correlates to basic principles of conversion and how high on the click-through hierarchy your landing page is. Most consumers impulsively click the top 3 positions, so its just a matter of getting there…
Those in the golden triangle (in range of the top 5 search engine results for a query) exponentially have a greater chance for conversion compared to pages below the fold (the positions 6-10, below the scroll line in search engines).
In a world of what you click is what you get, top rankings still capture the lion share of visibility and user engagement. The most coveted position is the top 2 rankings for any given keyword, the only variable here is just that “the keyword itself”.
The objective, acquire and /or pay for the most coveted positions; and with no shortage of content emerging on the web any time soon, grading and scoring each metric is a constant work in progress.
PPC is quick, clean, concise and ever present; SEO on the other hand is methodical, calculated, relevant and looming. Both in their own right are formidable when considering alternative marketing modalities to television, print and radio advertising.
With over 84% of people starting their browsers with a search engine as the homepage, visibility in search engines is critical for businesses online.
Quality comes at a price. As the quandary between PPC and SEO plays out, regardless of how you pay for it, positioning matters. With SEO, there is an air of editorial comfort of knowing that others endorsed your product or service and are “passing it along” as a resource for others vs. just paying for a slogan or tag line and then appearing on a search page.
The choice between which one you use is ultimately is up to you. Just keep in mind it is the same customer behind those clicks; so why should you have to pay, if people click for free?
If you could spend 20,000 on pay per click in one month or you could spend $20,ooo on SEO, which would you choose? One gives back in the short-term and can potentially become a crutch and the other is like giving a hungry man a fishing pole.
Long term benefits and equity or instant gratification with a tinge of risk and dependency, with the stakes for consumer attention at it highest summit, ROI is the definitive yardstick to measure results.