In this article I hope to answer the age-old question, "is PPC better than SEO?" Yes, we are going to settle this once and for all.
But first… I think the best way to get this party started is to talk more about business models than about paid and organic search.
There's something alluring about being able to spend 30 minutes or so on content and know that it will bring free traffic to your website over and over again. At least, that's what SEO professionals get paid for right? Who wants to pay for advertising? Of course, after about 300 blog posts you start to see that marketing through content isn't as easy as it seems.
Well, since content marketing takes time you might as well just throw money at paid search engine marketing right? I mean, it only takes about five minutes to set up a campaign and then you can throw money at it and watch your sales soar.
Well… Not so much.
Paid search marketing is hard too. Plus it's very easy to see hundreds of dollars disappear over the course of a few weeks without any results.
So which is better? Is PPC better than SEO? Well, it's all in the business model that you find the best suited for your goals.
The pros and cons of SEO
Let's say that you decide to focus primarily on SEO. Let's look at some of the ups and downs that you can expect to face with this business model.
The good news is that with good content marketing and search engine optimization you can drive a ton of traffic to your site with very little long-term costs. Once Google or other search engines find your content relevant and valuable, they will continue to serve that content over and over to their user base. That means a lot of free eyeballs on your business.
Also, one of the really cool things about content marketing and search engine optimization is that you'll typically find conversion rates to be higher than paid advertising. There are a number of reasons for this but the primary reason is that you are adding value before asking for the sale.
The downsides of search engine optimization aren't as easy to see for most business owners, but can be pretty severe if overlooked. The first major downside is that you have no control over how, when, or where your content is displayed. That means that it's very hard to forecast your sales over a long period of time and to build an entire business model off of organic search. Depending on search algorithm changes, your site may drop in traffic by 98% or rise in traffic by 1000% without you having any control over it.
Another thing to consider is that it takes a long time to develop good content. Unlike 10 years ago when search engines were relatively new and you could slap up any article, pop in a dozen keywords, and then start spamming a ton of different sites to start ranking well in Google and other search engines - it's much harder today to rank organically in search. That means that you either have to pay a content marketer big bucks in order to develop a 3000+ word blog post or do it yourself and spend a few hours at it.
The good and bad of pay per click marketing
Now, I don't think I have to tell you the most obvious Pro of using PPC - but I will anyway. One of the greatest things about PPC is that you can throw money at it and get instant traffic. That's right, you don't have to go and find a content writer, don't have to understand how search engine optimization works, and you don't have to develop affiliate relationships and start doing fancy link building back to your website. All you have to do is pay up.
The other major advantage, and I think the best part about PPC, is that you can build a business off of it. This is something that a lot of people overlook, but think about it… If you spend $100 on advertising and you get back $150 consistently you can scale that business. The same cannot be said for organic search since there really is no way to scale other than to continue to write and publish content.
I'll give you another example of how this works. We recently purchased a fitness website that drop ships different types of equipment. By by setting up various search campaigns and tracking the conversion rates off of those campaigns, even though we are paying for the advertising we can get a 15 to 30% margin from the sales. That's huge because if we are only spending $100 a month if we wanted to grow the business we would just up the budget $2000 a month and so on and so forth.
Of course the major downside of paying for traffic is that you have to pay for traffic. I know a number of people who use Google Ad Words and other different types of PPC and got burned. Unless you know how to test each of your ads and keywords that you are competing for, you can lose money very quickly.
Is PPC better than SEO?
I like to think of business models in a very simple way in order to determine whether or not they are good or bad. That simple way is this - can I sell it to another person?
As an investor, if I see a site that is doing $1000 in net profit organically versus $1000 net profit with paid advertising I will always go and try to buy the site that's using paid advertising. Why? Because it's extremely scalable and all I have to do is optimize the paid advertising campaigns so they earn more and then sell the site for more than I paid for it.
In the next article we will look more deeply into how you can use both search engine optimization and pay per click to deliver an amazing marketing strategy.