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PPC vs. SEO: And The Winner is....
There are two major search engine marketing strategies being employed by companies/webmasters in the market to date: PPC and SEO. Learn the pros and cons of each strategy and find out what works best for your online business

by Alexander Teru
Contributing Author


Search engine marketing is undoubtedly the best source of targeted traffic on the Internet currently. As most people use the search engines (up to 80% of surfers use a search engine to find info or products), the battle for search position only heats up from day-to- day.       
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There are arguably only two major marketing strategies being employed by companies/webmasters in the market to date: PPC and SEO.

Two schools of thought have emerged, an inevitable process in the continuing evolution of the Internet. SEO has been there since the beginning of the Internet, while PPC is the "new kid on the block".

PPC or "Pay Per Click" refers to text-based marketing, where companies/webmasters get charged by the click whenever a surfer clicks on their paid ads. Search rankings are usually based on bidding prices. These are usually designated on the engines as "sponsored listings".

SEO refers to "Search Engine Optimization". This is search ranking based on many factors like link popularity, page rank, etc. The listings for these appear on the main search results of an engine, also called "natural or organic search listings".

The main engines offer these as free submissions (though many smaller engines are finding ways to "charge" website submissions nowadays).

So, who's better? Let's do some weighing of pros and cons, and let's see the overall result.

PPC Advantages

  • PPC traffic, ranking and results tend to be more stable, more predictable than SEO.
  • PPC is the more popular advertising medium on the Internet. Because it's popular, you can more easily convince your employer/boss to spend some ad budget on this, as the risks of trying out other less popular marketing methods are higher. Since PPC is more popular than SEO, your boss will probably play it safe and go PPC first, before SEO.
  • Ability to rank high on the search engines, without having to do tedious work involved in SEO like finding link partners, posting links, etc. As long as you have the budget, good to high ranking is yours.

Also, PPC listings get posted much faster, usually a few days (after editor review).

PPC Disadvantages:

  • Unfortunately, popular also means "competitive". You'll find that costs are usually rising nowadays per click. As more companies compete, the "law of supply and demand" naturally will increase bids over time, similar to an auction in a way.

SEO Advantages

  • The primary advantage of SEO is that it can be done entirely free, without any cash outlay. Who doesn't like free traffic?

SEO Disadvantages:

  • SEO has less stable, more unpredictable traffic and ranking. This is because search engines tend to vary their ranking algorithms on "natural search listings"

SEO specialists would have to "guess" and adapt to ever-changing strategies and tactics to either maintain their positions or improve their rank. One month could mean you're out of the top ten with no warning.

  • SEO is slower in terms of ranking your site on a lot of chosen keywords. You would have to make numerous link requests, multiple pages, press release, etc. Also, it takes a lot more time for search engines to index new sites' domain names (it can take months).

So, who wins? It depends on the situation of the webmaster/company. If they have some cash to spend, PPC is their first choice (usually because results are faster). For those on lower budgets, SEO would be their first choice.

The acme of skill is on the advertiser who knows how to use both methods to his/her advantage, a combination is the best. Say, use PPC on keywords within your budget range, and use SEO to target more expensive keywords on the natural search engine results.

Or use PPC accounts to scout which keywords are competitive and which are not, using their "keyword search tool". Just be creative and innovative, and both methods can be combined to your advantage.


About the author:

Alexander Teru is the owner of http://www.homebizowners.com . He has been a successful E-commerce Entrepreneur since earlier days. His site focuses on reviewing/recommending only home business opportunities that have good standing with the FTC and BBB.

August 22, 2004