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
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
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
So, who's better? Let's do some weighing of pros and cons,
and let's see the overall result.
- 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).
- 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.
- The primary advantage of SEO is that it can be done
entirely free, without any cash outlay. Who doesn't like free
- 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
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
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
About the author:
Alexander Teru is the owner of
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