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The Optimal Blend of SEO versus PPC

There are two ways search engines display the search results: the organic (natural) search results, and the pay-per-click (paid advertisement) search results. As a business owner, what gives you a better return on investment for your advertising dollars?

To answer this question, we should examine the pros and cons of each. Statistics show that 75% of web users click on the organic search results while only 25% click on the pay-per-click advertisements. The reason is that people inherently believe the organic results are better, because you cannot “pay” your way there. You have earned your position.

As business owners, we know that you can in fact get very high rankings on the organic search results by hiring a search engine optimization company. The problem is that getting up high in the organic search results, especially on highly competitive keywords, is not an instantaneous process. For instance, it typically takes 4 to 8 months to get your web site onto the first page of Google on a competitive keyword. Unless you are optimizing some obscure keyword nobody uses, you probably won’t get onto the first page of Google in a week.

In contrast, you can get onto the first page of Google (in the paid advertisement section) right away if you bid enough money on Google’s pay-per-click program known as Google Adwords. You are charged a certain amount of money every time your ad is clicked. How much money? Well, the highest bidder gets the ad. If you want your web site to appear when people are searching for a highly desirable keyword, chances are you will pay a good amount of cost per click.

So where does this leave us? Well, think of pay-per-click as an ongoing advertising expense. If you don’t want to spend the money anymore, your ad no longer appears. In contrast, think of SEO as a one-time investment into your web site. You own the investment because it is your web site that is up there on the first page of Google’s organic search results. You may need to do some ongoing SEO maintenance to keep it there, but it is nowhere near the ongoing expense you can incur with pay-per-clicks.

In conclusion, we recommend you start by doing both SEO and PPC. Since SEO doesn’t give you instant results, you want the exposure coming from your pay-per-click ads. Once your organic rankings start to do well, scale down your PPC campaign. Eventually, you can eliminate the pay-per-clicks entirely and only do some slight SEO maintenance to maintain your high organic rankings. A great example of this is one of our clients that used to spend $150,000 per year on PPCs. By helping them get to the top 3 positions in the organic search results for these extremely competitive keywords, they eliminated the $150,000 per year of ongoing advertising expense entirely.

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