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If you have a small or medium sized budget for internet marketing your first decision is typically would you spend it on organic search engine optimization (SEO) or a pay per click (SEM / PPC). Both sides have their own benefits as well as disadvantages which I will go into more depth below:

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Pros:

  • Long Term ROI – Typically with organic SEO the work will continue to increase rankings for months or even years after the campaign is ended. Meaning you will have a long term ROI.
  • Compounded Interest – Google will continue to give more credit for links that have been linking to you for a longer time meaning the longer a back link is pointing to your site the more authority it builds and the higher you rank even if no more work is done.
  • Increase Traffic Without Budgets – With PPC you must spend money to receive more traffic while since organic SEO has a longer shelf life it adds more traffic every month even though the budget doesn’t change.

Cons:

  • Longer Time to See Results – While organic search engine optimization takes lasts longer then PPC it also takes longer to see an increase in traffic.
  • Larger Upfront Investment – While PPC can be started on a shoestring budget organic SEO typically has a higher point of entry.
  • No Guarantee – Because you are not simply buying advertising you don’t know how many clicks or impressions you will receive.

Pay Per Click (SEM / PPC)

Pros:

  • Instant Traffic – Since you are purchasing advertising you will notice traffic within minutes of activating the account.
  • Split Testing – You can split test several ad copies to see what add copy converts better.
  • Better Tracking – PPC campaigns typically have better tracking where you can track each campaign to the penny and get very accurate estimates on CPL (cost per leads) and CPA (Cost per action)

Cons:

  • No Long Term Benefits – While campaigns to show results quicker there is no long term benefit to running a SEM campaign. When the money stops so does the traffic.
  • Smaller Audience – The search engines clearly mark their sponsored listings and many people do not click on them because of this. This means you are hitting a much smaller audience then organic SERPs (search engine result pages)
  • Click Fraud – Because search engines also buy traffic from other sources there are many cases of something called “click fraud” which basically means you pay for a robotic to click your link but shows as real traffic.

Of course these are just a few of differences when comparing organic search engine optimization to pay per click optimization but should give you the basic idea of the main differences. In order to find what type of internet marketing campaign would work best for your company you should contact a respected internet marketing company that can analyze your goals and give more in-depth advice.

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Director of Operations|Director of Operations at Eyeflow Internet Marketing Chris has been involved in digital marketing since 2005 and has performed hundreds of SEO audits. He's also presented at local Pittsburgh events on various SEO topics.

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  • Val Johnson

    Probably the biggest mistake people make when doing their own PPC advertising is choosing the wrong keywords just because they want to get traffic. A couple of things to know are 1) General keywords get lots of searches and traffic but are less qualified and less likely to buy. When you’re paying for visitors, you want results, not just traffic. 2) The keywords that are being bid on must be extremely relevant to the product/services you are offering. If it was a retail store, would you want to pay for male motor bikers to walk into Victoria’s secret? Nothing against bikers, it’s just not the target market – and that’s what happens when you bid on general, broad keywords. You get lots of untargeted visitors so your ROI doesn’t work. If anybody wants help with this, call my buddy Simon here: 240-455-3886.