Combining PPC and SEO
By Tom Dahm
Monday, October 04, 2004; 3:00am EST
There are two
ways to get to the top of the search engine listings: using search
engine optimization (SEO) to boost your rankings, and buying your
way to the top with pay per click (PPC) listings. Which method
should you use to promote your web site?
Instant Gratification With PPC
PPC advertising programs such as Google Adwords and Yahoo's Overture
place a small text ad for your web site in the Sponsored Links
section of the search results. Each time someone clicks on your PPC
listing, you pay a certain amount of money. Prices are set by
competitive bidding and can range from surprisingly cheap ($0.33 for
"java book") to insanely expensive ($12.98 for "web hosting").
The search engine optimization process is much slower. You have to
work your way to the top of the free search results by tuning your
web pages so the search engines can better understand them. Services
like NetMechanic's Search Engine Power Pack can guide you in
optimizing your site by analyzing pages for problems and telling you
how to properly emphasize keywords.
PPC and SEO have very different flavors. The biggest advantage of
PPC listings is that you can immediately reach the top of the search
engine result listing. In contrast, it can take 3 months before you
get the full benefit of your SEO campaign. Compared to that time, a
PPC campaign feels like instant gratification.
But be prepared to pay for that leap to the top. You have to pay
cold, hard cash for your listing, and your listing disappears as
soon as you stop paying. Running an effective PPC campaign can cost
you thousands of dollars each month. Compared to that, the $99 a
year price for Search Engine Power Pack looks like a bargain.
1 + 1 = 4. Really!
So PPC is quick and relatively easy, but can cost significant money.
SEO is inexpensive, but requires you to invest time and effort in
tuning your web pages. Which approach should you be using to promote
your Web site?
For most people the answer is to use both. Consider PPC as a
short-term solution and SEO for the long term.
Some of the advantages of this combined approach are obvious. If it
can take 3 months for SEO to show maximum results, why not run a PPC
campaign during that time?
But there are other, surprising synergies you can get by combining
both methods. In particular, a PPC campaign is the best way to find
the keywords you should be targeting in your SEO campaign.
Finding the Right Words
Wouldn't it be a shame if you put a lot of effort into your SEO
campaign, only to find you chose the wrong keywords?
For example, suppose we run the web site for a Colorado ski lodge.
In our SEO campaign we decide to target the keyword "ski resort."
Search Engine Power Pack's keyword popularity tool shows 24,804
monthly searches for that keyword, and that certainly looks
attractive. You spend weeks optimizing your pages and working your
way to the top of the free listings, but then something funny
happens - you get lots of visitors, but very few sales.
Why? There are many reasons why a keyword can fail:
Perhaps your lodge is rustic and people are looking for an
all-inclusive luxury resort. Maybe you should be including
"Colorado" in your keyword phrase. Maybe people using this phrase
are in the early stages of their research and aren't ready to book a
The important thing is that you just spent 3 months fighting your
way to the top for a keyword that doesn't work. All your effort was
A PPC campaign lets you experiment with a wide range of keywords.
Since it takes only a few minutes to create a listing for a keyword,
it's easy to experiment with many of different words. It's common
for a PPC campaign to target 100 or more keywords. Both Overture and
Google include conversion-tracking tools that help you understand
which keywords are generating sales. Once you've seen which words
are working, you can target them for search engine optimization.
My preferred approach to running a search engine marketing campaign
is to start with a small scale PPC campaign. Your PPC budget doesn't
have to be large, since you aren't trying to buy all the clicks
available for all your keywords. You want just enough traffic to let
you learn which keywords are working. Within a month, you should
have enough data to start your SEO campaign. Once that starts to
show results, you can lower your keyword bids or drop them entirely.
There is one other advantage to this combined approach: it helps you
quantify the value of your SEO work. If your company spends $5,000 a
month for PPC listings, then an optimization campaign that cuts that
spending has clear, tangible value. Suddenly your boss can see why
SEO is worth the time you are spending on it!
Source of Article
The author of this
article is Tom Dahm, writes for NetMechanic, Inc.
NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking,
search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For
more information visit