When you purchase visitors or "clicks" from a search engine, this is called "pay-per-click" (PPC) search engine advertising (or PPCSE). Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Advertising allows you to quickly get top search engine placement by "bidding" (paying) for keywords related to your product or service.
"Organic" or "Natural" search engine optimization (SEO) is accomplished by optimizing your web pages and by increasing your "link popularity" by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. This gives you high rankings at the Search Engines for your chosen search terms.
In this article, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of both methods of search engine marketing.
"Natural" Search Engine Optimization
Today, there is a big myth that natural search engine optimization is inexpensive and easy. For example, if you wanted your web site to rank high for the keyword phrase "life insurance" or "debt consolidation" you're going to need to budget a minimum of $50,000-100,000 a year!
Yet still, natural search engine optimization usually gives you a much higher return on investment than pay per click. This is true for two main reasons:
1. More searchers click the natural search engine results versus the pay per click ads, so you'll get much more traffic for less.
2. One of the biggest factors to improving your rankings with natural search engine optimization is by boosting your "Link Popularity" by acquiring or paying for links that point to your web site. These links give you lasting results by giving you top rankings and traffic from the search engines. Plus, the links themselves will provide a significant boost in long term traffic.
With that said, the biggest weakness of natural search engine optimization is the time required to generate links and "tweak" your web pages and keywords to get those prized high rankings you so desire. It can literally take 3 months or more to finally enjoy the benefits of your search engine optimization campaign.
Pay Per Click Search Engine Advertising
The biggest benefit of pay per click is the fact that it will provide you with an immediate boost of qualified visitors, lead and sales giving you fast results within just hours or days. In fact, a pay per click advertising program is your best option if you seek fast results and a good return on investment while you are waiting for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program to "ramp up."
Depending on your traffic goals, you can budget $100 or $100,000. PPCSEs also give you the added benefits of being able to quickly test your web site and track your conversion rates (leads, opt-ins, and sales) and turning keywords (visitors) on and off easily.
So, as a short term strategy pay per click gives you the clear advantage over SEO. But, the disadvantage is the cost involved. Depending on the market demand for your keywords and clicks, your PPCSE campaign can generate tons of traffic and can cost hundreds, even thousands per day. With various optimization strategies you can lower your costs, but over the long term natural search engine optimization will give you a higher return on your marketing dollar.
The golden rule in marketing is that you should constantly strive for maximum results and ROI for your budget. In other words, if your marketing is making you a profit - even if it's a thin profit - it's worth it. By this model, pay per click is worth doing, but overall pay per click will leave you with thinner margins.
The reason for conducting a natural search engine optimization campaign is to significantly increase your margins over the long term.
About The Author
Matt Hockin is President of Interactive Marketing, Inc., a small business marketing consulting company and the editor of the Interactive Marketing newsletter, one of the Internet's leading free small business marketing newsletters. Subscribe now at http://www.interactivemarketinginc.com.