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Search Engine Optimization Can't Replace Paid Online Advertising

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July 24, 2012

I frequently speak to fellow business people who tell me that they don't use per click advertising because it's "too expensive." Instead, they focus 100% of their website marketing on search engine optimization because it's "free."

I say "wrong!"

First, let's be clear about what we're talking about. Pay per click advertising or PPC advertising as we frequently call it, consists of text and banner ads that serve (or display) to internet users based on the search terms they use and based on the content of the websites they visit. Advertisers pay for the ads only when an internet user clicks on their ads, hence the term "pay per click." (Think of Google Advertising or Yahoo Advertising.)

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the art and science of making a website more visible to search engines, so that the website appears near the top of search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

So why do I say, "wrong" to the assertion that pay per click advertising is too expensive and SEO is preferable because it's free? For starters, search engine optimization is by no means free. In fact, effective SEO work has significant hard and soft costs including programming costs to ensure website coding is clean and visible to search engines and copywriting costs to ensure website content is relevant to targeted keywords. Moreover, effective SEO is a process that can take months to generate results because it requires a critical mass of content and back-links to earn the top results most people want.

How much does it cost? It depends on how competitive the search terms are that the website owner is seeking to optimize. SEO efforts can range from $500 per month to $10,000 per month and higher.

Now, what about PPC advertising? Unlike SEO, a pay per click advertising campaign especially one developed by a professional PPC management company can generate results immediately. In addition, the cost of pay per click advertising is completely scalable and controllable. You determine the bid you're willing to pay for an individual click. And you set your own daily budget so that the expenses never exceed what you can afford.

You can typically take advantage of professional Tag.Link.Page.PPCservices to provide Google AdWords management as well as to create your banner advertising for less than 20% of your total PPC budget.

Which is better, PPC advertising or SEO? Neither. They both have their advantages and work best in concert with each other. Pay per click advertising services can quickly generate visible results. The budget of a PPC management program is highly controllable, and the ROI can be easily tracked and measured. The downside is that some people may be more inclined to click on an organic search result than on a sponsored link.

For some internet users, SEO-generated search results have greater credibility than pay per click ads. And once a website has earned a high place on the search results rankings, it can be more affordable to maintain that position. Of course, it can take months to get there, and the hard and soft costs are significant.

Bottom line, pay per click advertising and SEO both have their place in a well-planned, strategic online marketing program. Both have their benefits. Therefore, the most effective campaigns should use PPC management and SEO together.