SEO vs PPC: Do they help or hinder each other?

by AlexG on May 13, 2011

SEO V/s PPC

Ahh, the good old fight between SEO and PPC.  As an SEO, it can be frustrating to see PPC diverting valuable clicks from keywords you are at number one for.  It can seem daft; why pay for a click when you could have got it for free if you had forced that visitor to click on the natural search listing instead of the paid?

But would you have got that click at all if the paid listing had not been there?  The user might have clicked on a different paid ad and not your number one natural listing at all.  The line between paid and natural has been blurring over recent years – now the background colour to highlight PPC is so light that on some monitors they are virtually indistinguishable – so those who don’t like to click the paid ads may do so unintentionally.

However, there is still a bias towards the natural listings, although the exact statistics for the click share of natural versus paid are somewhat muddy.  I looked around for a while and found three different percentages – 65%, 77% and 85%.  It really depends on what the search is for, of course, as people are learning that the paid ads are often quite helpful if they are looking to buy a product but less so for reviews, research or advice.

Why natural?

Natural search has the obvious advantages of being completely free, having more space to invite clicks and potentially bringing you lots of traffic from long tail terms that you had not predicted.  Unless you are running a PPC campaign on ‘broad’ match , which tends to be very wasteful, you would never even think to bid on these terms.  I once worked for a company that got around 8% of its natural search revenue through a keyword that I suppose must have been peoples’ attempt at the brand name, but in fact was completely incorrect.  Not even a typo – the wrong words altogether!  Without organic search, I would never have guessed that one.

Why paid?

Having said that, there are some benefits to PPC that natural search cannot provide.  The immediacy is great; want to run a test?  You can get results in hours.  You can check on keywords that you think will work but which turn out not to, saving you many hours (or days) of wasted SEO.  You can use negative keywords to weed out the dud traffic, streamlining and honing your web visitors into a relevant army that is ready to take you up on whatever you offer.  You can get traffic in for competitive keywords whilst you reach the top spots through the natural listings.

There is no one winner between SEO and PPC.  Both deliver separate streams of traffic that work better for some businesses than others.  They can aid each other to dominate the search results.  It doesn’t really matter whether a click comes through natural or paid search (unless you are on a tight budget), as long as that visitor is ending up on your website.  Have strength in both areas and you can ride the storms of algorithm change or sudden rises in click costs, giving you a solid base from which you can build a powerful web presence.

This is a guest post by Alex, check out our guidelines to guest post on this blog

Image Credit: Austin SEO

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Article by Alex G

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{ 18 comments }

Web Developer May 14, 2011 at 4:51 am

PPC can be costly if not monitored closely, while it does well to sell the product if you have a good landing page

ery @ link building for SEO May 14, 2011 at 8:58 am

Hey Alex
SEO and PPC are weapon of internet marketer. Both are just the way to get traffic. Which one is the best? I think it is depend on the purpose of the campaign.
Thanks for sharing

Regards
Ery

Arun @ dailywiki May 15, 2011 at 1:17 am

I always vouch for natural ways for getting clicks as they are free and get more conversions.

ZK May 15, 2011 at 4:58 am

Natural linking is great but takes time to rank high. That’s why PPC is a great way to get your site rank high on search engines.

Alex May 16, 2011 at 6:16 am

So you find natural listings convert better? Paid has always had a much higher conversion rate for me because the terms the ad appears for are more targeted. Natural traffic can be a bit random when you accidentally rank for something irrelevant!

Allan May 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm

The truth above all, both have its cons and pros, definitely both are to consider but what is free, is free. Always do a little effort on SEO anyway, you may get passive income on the comming future.
Thanks.
- Allan

asp .net developer May 16, 2011 at 1:15 am

SEO gets visitors from search engines and other web sources, PPC from direct advertising. Looking at the areas each covers, we see that main difference …

Sandy@How Many Calories to Lose Weight May 16, 2011 at 2:40 am

SEO and PPC are both different ways to get traffic and i think it’s better if visitor click it naturally.

Promotional Products May 17, 2011 at 12:25 am

SEO and PPC are both different, PPC is more costly than SEO, if we have strong SEO than there is no need of PPC.

asp .net developer May 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

PPC will give you traffic but it will take money in return

Ajith Edassery - Make Money Online May 18, 2011 at 2:22 am

Not sure about the relationship in the general sense. But my own experience is that, the moment you start PPC advertising with Google for a particular niche blog or landing page, Google seems to downgrade that (or not upgrade) page’s PR. This will probably continuously give them the PPC advertising income. On my landing pages (under PPC campaign) I tried to do a lot of link building but it never increase the search visibility.

Alex May 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

That’s an interesting observation Ajith. I have never really noted that happening to the PR. I did have the opposite happen once – I was nowhere for a single word phrase, did a few days’ PPC on it and suddenly the website was on page 1 – and has been now for several years. It never happened again so I’m inclined to think it was just a coincidence.

Hsnstore May 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Ppc is real time and seo … is like wysiwyg wwhat you pay is what you pay. Seois different

Terje Sannarnes May 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

I would like to say that both SEO and PPC are both highly effective online advertising solutions, so it is better to combine these two methods in a single whole. So, in my opinion it is expedient to use both SEO and PPC in an online marketing strategy of online business.

Adam Gilbert May 24, 2011 at 5:31 am

SEO and PPC are both different ways to get traffic, but SEO is more preferable as PPC is costly.

amit@ best website design company chandigarh May 27, 2011 at 3:43 am

I would like to say,if you have money and you want to get instant traffic then go for PPC.SEo is a long process it ll take some time but the results from SEO are really effective for long time.
So both are useful but I ll prefer SEO than PPC.

Allan October 5, 2011 at 2:54 am

As you know it has it pros and cons, so you have to be very selective when deciding what is going to be your outcome.

Thomas October 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm

SEO is by far the best traffic source, yes it may not be instant and can be painfully time consuming but in the end the pay off is huge and the postives far outweight the negatives, you can literally set and forget when you reach page 1.

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