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PPC versus SEO

14 December, 2010

Pay per click or PPC is an online advertising model where advertisers pay the hosts every time their ads are clicked. PPC is used to derive paid or inorganic search engine results as opposed to unpaid or organic search engine results derived from search engine optimisation or SEO.

Both SEO and PPC are methods used in search engine marketing, also called SEM. SEM is the process of driving traffic to a particular website and converting them into customers.

Websites that use PPC will show ads that match the keyword entered by the user. This form of advertisement is called sponsored links or sponsored ads, which are displayed alongside organic search engine results. Meanwhile, websites that use SEO use different factors such as web content, website code, inbound links, and others to gain decent search engine results position or SERP.

Which SEM method is best to use?

It actually depends on the website owner what SEM method he prefers or can afford to use. No option is free of cost, but both can drive relevant traffic to the website.

The benefits of using PPC over SEO are:

  • There is little to no changes needed for the website.
  • It brings results faster, usually within hours of starting the PPC campaign.
  • There is the freedom to choose which keywords to bid on.
  • The expense is only equal to the number of clicks multiplied by the cost per click.
  • Results can be monitored for future website improvements.
  • There is the freedom to choose which web pages users are directed.
  • The website can be targeted specific countries and regions.
  • The website can rank at any keyword if the budget is sizeable enough.

Meanwhile, the benefits of using SEO over PPC are:

  • The results are unpaid, so traffic that reaches the website costs literally nothing.
  • The SERP of the website can continue longer even after the SEO campaign is through.
  • It is a more cost-effective SEM approach than PPC.
  • Users trust organic results more than paid ones.

PPC is the way to go for a website backed by large SEM budget, especially if the owner wishes to see results right away. But PPC has to be continued because the moment it is stopped, the ads are stopped and there are no long-term results to expect. Meanwhile, SEO is great for those who can wait at least a month for their SERPs to go up.

There is no single best SEM strategy. That is why many online marketers would do both SEO and PPC in order to take advantage of both strategies. One can seek the counsel of experts to draft a sound SEM plan.

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