People often get confused over whether or not they are better off spending their marketing budget on search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search advertising through Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google Adwords Support. There are a lot of different considerations to be made in comparing these options, and there is room for varying opinions. Some will be better laid out than others.
Often people don’t have a great understanding of the contrast between SEO and paid search advertising. They think that SEO is a free endeavor, while paid search is anything that costs money. That’s not really accurate. The actual difference is where the money is going. Someone has to be working on your web presence to boost your SEO, so you are still paying money. You’re just paying it to someone else, whereas in a paid search campaign you are paying Google (or Bing, or another search engine).
There’s also a big difference in when you spend the money and when you get the results. With search engine optimization, you spend the money up front and then it takes time before you see the results. In paid search marketing, you spend the money as the results come. They should start coming almost immediately, too. It is a lot easier to analyze and adjust with regard to paid search, because the results are easier to track and quicker to be seen.
Since you are paying for the advertising, Google returns the favor with a lot of information on that traffic. You’ll be able to compare your various campaigns and figure out what is working and what is not. It’s an ongoing task, but you’ll always have enough information to really go at it aggressively and have a good idea where you’re standing. There are best practices for SEO, but you can’t know exactly what you should be doing or how long it may take to yield results.
One drawback of SEO is that even though you may be able to take an educated guess on the amount of traffic you’ll get from a certain keyword or the value of that traffic, you won’t know for sure until you’ve already spent the money and seen the results. Sometimes you may get a ton of traffic, but convert it at a very low rate. In those cases, you may have wasted your budget on keywords that aren’t even helping you. When this happens in paid search, the expenditure is usually lower and the change back to another strategy can happen a lot quicker.
One great way around this is to launch your marketing efforts with paid search, which will teach you about your most valuable keywords. You can then spend your money to optimize for those keywords in particular, bringing SEO in down the line.