Debate as much as you want regarding organic search engine optimization or SEO versus paid advertising or PPC and you will find out it is a hot topic with people fighting on both sides of the fence that one is better than the other. A third option we see all too much is to be completely lazy and do nothing as you've vested so much money that you expect that money to also be heard by the search engines that you didn't even pay because your site is just "that great". The question comes down to which one will work best for your brand, your time frame, target market, what your budget is, how patient you are, and whether you have truly great content. We've re-written this several times and are going to lay the pros and cons to each.
Organic Search Engine Optimization or Organic SEO
- You have most likely invested in higher quality content.
- The more content you add (that's quality) your audience will continue to grow.
- Your website is updated monthly, or more, for the latest search engine recommended standards.
- Targets high traffic keywords.
- Websites are typically higher quality with a core focus on the user.
- It takes more time to be indexed and found.
- It takes a time commitment even if you pay someone to run your search engine optimization.
- Major algorithm updates will set you back and you'll have to update to the latest standards.
Pay per Click or PPC
- You are seen in the top and bottom of the search results for the exact phrases you want to be found.
- People that click are more likely to convert.
- When you are getting started and want to get found quick and not wait this is a great option as a kick starter.
- Protection from major search engine algorithm updates.
- Really good to use in highly competitive markets.
- Can be quickly turned on and off once it is setup.
- Pretty much guarantees you results that will show on page 1.
- Show on websites that have opted in to display Google ads (ever see those ads on websites that seem to follow you everywhere? This is the power of Google AdWords).
- You probably won't invest as heavily in high-quality content as you are spending it on "clicks".
- There's more than just Google. You have to do paid advertising on all of the major search engines.
- Pay per click is only 1/10 of 1% of searches. This means that you are missing 99.9% of your marketing if you focus only on PPC.
- When you stop paying the search engines your traffic decreases.
- The bigger your budget the better. We tell people to expect $30 or more per day (at a minimum) for each search engine (this doesn't cover the administration costs).
- You tend to not update your website for major algorithm updates.
- Savvy users are more likely to skip your brand and click on an organic listing.
- Paid ads do not directly affect your organic listings.
- Lowest cost option (or is it???)
- You paid a lot up front most likely it is very "pretty".
- This is the lazy persons approach.
- You will fall into page 2, 3, and then the search engine graveyard.
When it comes to the search engines you need to think like a runner and not a sprinter. No matter what solution for performing search engine optimization is something your business does. If you want to fail then "do nothing" as that will get you the results you want – nothing. If you have a new site and want that quick adrenaline rush does PPC in conjunction with organic. If you are patient, not in a rush (3-4 months) do organic solely.
As with any marketing for your business you need to determine what is best for your business and brand. You need to do what is best for your company which will not be the same as everyone else.