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.
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.
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