I run across companies that get into search marketing with misconceptions about how SEO and Pay-per-click (PPC) relate to each other. I’ll deal straight away with a dubious practice I’ve seen where PPC campaigns are run on the premise that it directly helps a site’s SEO. It doesn’t. If you have a site that is well SEO’d, it can help your PPC campaigns, but the reverse isn’t true. The unanimous view of those who watch search engines like google is that PPC has no impact on your organic rankings.

The other misconception I see is firms looking at SEO and PPC as a case of Either/Or. The chief error I see these companies make is pitting their website’s organic traffic head-to-head against their PPC traffic; assuming that their whole marketing program can rely on just one of these traffic sources. Neither extreme on this free-vs-paid traffic source continuum works.

Neither PPC nor SEO are Standalones

It’s wrong to think that PPC can be used all by itself. Assuming your site has poor organic rankings and you choose to buy all your visitors, I have bad news. Platforms like Google & Microsoft would force you to pay such a premium for the clicks, you may go broke paying for visitors, rather than getting enough visitor purchases to repay the money your PPC ads cost. It’s true that PPC may give you access to visitors you could never get organically, but there are ways of using PPC ads to elicit action from people in a way that organic listings never will.

Similarly, the belief that you should only focus on SEO because organic search visits are free is also wrong. SEO on its own can be expensive. There’s already lots of good content on the web, so for your content to draw visitors, you must spend a significant amount of time producing it. Furthermore, search engine algorithms are designed with time-delays, so it can take months before organic rankings change due to new content on a site. Firms waiting for a high ranking to realize revenue targets may need to resort to PPC traffic until they receive all the traffic they need from organic search.

So if you must use both search marketing techniques, how do you find the right mix? I can’t categorically say how much Pay-per-click traffic you need, without knowing how much organic search traffic (aka SEO-drawn traffic) your website gets. But unless organic is over 2/3rds of your total site traffic, there’s more search traffic out there that you could be getting. Using SEO tactics, you can eventually get that traffic, but obtaining it in the short term is best achieved through Pay-per-click advertising.

Analyze the Value of Marginal Demand

You’re best to go into this intending to be successful with your SEO and PPC efforts. This approach recognizes that to achieve ROI with either one means an investing of hard and soft costs. With limited resources; you’re forced to balance the demands of each of these search traffic sources. Having looked at your analytics & seen differences in the kinds of buyers/buying stages that come from organic and paid search, you must answer this question: To get a single additional prospect to your site, which of the two audiences would you choose from? It’s hard to figure out where that ‘marginal demand’ should come from; especially as you near the optimal SEO-PPC mix. The payoff in crunching all this data is that your CFO, and any economist for that matter, will acknowledge your marketing ROI, and they’ll leave your budget intact to keep on optimizing.

The real solution to the issue is to ask “what amount of each do I need to be balanced?” This is a level-headed approach, because you’re running both PPC campaigns & applying SEO best practices over a long enough time that will yield lots of visitors who are truly interested in your offerings. Finding out the right blend of traffic sources will be good to know, but the ensuing increase in your revenues is what will really make you smile!

See how Pay-per-click (PPC) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns generate leads by clicking below.