Search Engine Optimization vs Pay Per Click - Which is Best for You?

Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click are the best ways to increase your online visibility. Both come with many benefits, but it can be confusing learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Below, we've described advantages and disadvantages of each, and when they may be best for your website.

Search Engine Optimization

Pros Cons
We can make optimization changes up front or on an ongoing basis to help increase and maintain visibility in search engines. We must make changes to your web site. Normally this is easy to do and the changes are usually transparent to visitors. However, if you have invested heavily in a search engine-unfriendly site, you may not want to implement workarounds to make it more welcoming to search engines.
Over time, SEO is usually less costly than PPC. In fact, it can be free of charge after the upfront work is done. Results (rankings, traffic) sometimes start slowly, though they do build over time. It may take 3-4 months to see consistent, measurable results.
There's a credibility factor, since the site is listed in search engines' natural results. This is a sort of third party endorsement -- savvy searchers know that the site didn't buy their way in, so the ranking is viewed as "earned." There's no guarantee for results. Because search engines are dynamic, we can't predict or guarantee top ranking in search engines for all of your keywords, nor can we predict how much traffic we'll get.
Broad coverage on many search engines worldwide. You may even get traffic from search engines you've never heard of. We are limited as to the number of search terms we can target based on the size of your website.

Search engine optimization is your best bet if:

  • You want to invest now to improve your search engine rankings in the future.
  • You have a budget to work with now, and you want to save money later on.
  • You are willing to wait a few months for consistent results.
  • You want to concentrate on improving the content and usability of your website.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pros Cons
Pay per click advertising is fast to implement. It takes two to three weeks for us to do our work, including time for you to approve everything along the way. After that, Google AdWords are up and running within minutes and Yahoo ads are live within a day. Clicks can be expensive for more competitive keywords. As more companies learn about PPC, more enter the fray and bids go up.
We don't need to make any changes to your web site. You must keep paying for clicks every month. If your marketing budget is ever cut, your listings will disappear along with your search engine traffic.
The only limit to the number of keywords your site will be visible for is your budget. Some searchers ignore sponsored listings since they know they're ads, and skip down to the natural search results.
PPC is great for special promotions, as we can turn your campaign on and off whenever you choose. It requires time to monitor and adjust listings on a constant basis.
Placement of PPC ads are usually higher on search engine results pages for sponsored listings than for editorial listings. While your ads are displayed on the most popular search engines, your visibility is limited to roughly 90% of online users.
It's very easy to test different keywords, ad copy, offers etc. and measure the results. Testing is costly and time consuming outside of Pay Per Click advertising.

Pay per click advertising may be best for you if:

  • You want to get up and running quickly.
  • You have a promotion where you want to be able to turn a campaign on and off.
  • Your site is search engine-unfriendly and you don't want to invest in changing it.
  • You're confident you'll have the budget to spend for the long haul to maintain positions on a regular basis.

You don't need to choose between
SEO and PPC if you don't want to. Many of our clients do both!

  • Run a PPC campaign first, while you wait for visibility in search engines generated by your SEO program.
  • Test keywords with PPC first to see which ones people respond to most, before undertaking SEO.
  • Go with SEO first. If you're not happy with your rankings for some keywords, supplement with a limited PPC campaign.
  • Use both to achieve the best visibility possible!
2219 Edgewood Ave S.
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
763-450-3900 • 888-234-5071

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