13 January 2009

SEO vs. PPC: The 2009 SEO Uprising

. 13 January 2009 .

Search engine optimization (SEO) reaches the people who are looking for you right now, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising reaches a back-of-mind market similar to billboards and television advertising. Cost considerations and increasing market competition positions SEO for a huge uprising in 2009. Although it is likely that both SEO and PPC will continue to see big gains against all other marketing methods in 2009, my prediction is that the 2009 SEO uprising will be substantial and swift in the first half of the year and carry through the end of the recession. SEO and PPC Comparison

Both SEO and PPC each have a strong place in Internet marketing, but let us look at a very simple comparison of SEO and PPC and how they each work for or against you. I will give you a description followed by pros and cons of both SEO and PPC.
Search Engine Optimization a.k.a. SEO

SEO focuses on bringing your Website to the top listings returned by search engines based on its relevance to a search engine user’s query. As quoted from my recent article “SEO in a Nutshell“, a simple decription of SEO is as follows:

“SEO is, the practice of improving the qualities of a Website in order to be better indexed in search engines. In very non-technical terms, SEO makes it possible that when somebody goes to their favorite search engine, usually Google, and searches for something, that they find your listing at or near the top of the list.”

Considering that the focus of SEO is to be found by customers rather than finding customers, it has a much higher conversion of lookers to buyers. Because of SEO’s very nature, it is the most targeted approach to the market.

SEO requires quality Website content that people want, and search for using a search engine. The content should be on-topic, which is to say that if the Website is about beauty products, you do not try to optimize it for fishing lures and tractor tires.

The Pros of SEO - SEO lasts a very long time. Once the content is produced, optimized for search engines, and reaches a high search engine placement, the cost stops while the reward keeps coming in. SEO provides residual benefit, and the return on investment (ROI) of SEO increases over time.

The Cons of SEO - The best results come from paying a writer and SEO professional to research the most effective keywords and achieve the proper search engine placement. This will generally have a higher upfront cost.
Pay Per Click Advertising a.k.a. PPC

PPC is generally based on a bid-rank system, whereby companies place a maximum bid for the position and frequency that their advertisement will be displayed, as well as a daily spending limit. For simple comparison, I am also grouping pay-per-impression advertising and other methods of online display advertising into the mix. They all have much similarity in that they display the advertisers message alongside the content that users were actually seeking.

There are many variations to the pricing models, but the basic principle is that the advertiser pays for each time somebody clicks on their advertisement, or in the case of pay-per-impression ads, every time the ad is displayed to a visitor. A key to PPC or display advertising success is in the ad placement strategically reaching the proper demographic.

The Pros of PPC / Display Ads - PPC and display advertising in general can provide greater exposure to a back-of-mind market that may not have considered your product or service until they saw the advertisement. This can prompt users to buy when they were not already in the market.

The Cons of PPC / Display Ads - Each method of PPC or other online display ads have a termination point. When you stop paying for the ads to run, the benefit is gone. There is not a residual benefit, and the return on investment (ROI) of PPC stops when the spending stops.
SEO vs. PPC / Display Advertising Summary

Each Internet marketing method has a place in Internet marketing, and they often work nicely together. With greater consideration given to the return on investment (ROI) of online advertising and marketing during recession, SEO has a leg up for 2009. While the ROI of PPC and display advertising drops sharply when the investment stops, the ROI of SEO keeps growing.

In either case, 2009 will bring changes to Internet marketing. It is most important that whether you use display advertising or SEO, you should do something to assure your place in the 2009 Internet market.


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