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PPC Versus SEO – Where Do You Get the Best Value

Pay-per-click (PPC) online marketing is much like conventional marketing where you pay for exposure; once you set a budget you can expect to have your ads shown and clicked on a “predictable” number of times.

PPC marketing is very conventional and very predicable except for the fact that you still cannot predict your cost per acquisition (CPA).

If you spend a determined number of dollars per month with PPC and you make money, that’s great and it may be worth it to consider spending more money to produce even more profit…that is, until you hit the limit of what that market can deliver of course.

Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget on PPC or SEO?

You have the choice of spending your advertising dollars on PPC (sponsored links) or SEO (organic optimization) but how can you know which one offers the best value for the money.

This is a crucial decision and something you need to decide early so let’s look at where people (online searchers) click to help us answer this question.

Organic Listings Get Searched on More Often

When you do a search, where do “you” click more often?

Do you click in the middle of the page from the organic results? Or do you click on the paid listing results (the sponsored links found most often at the very top or in the right column of the search results)?

Statistics show that most people click on listings in the middle of the page…from the organic search results. The general feeling is that organic results provide content that is far more relevant than the sponsored listings.

Although the statistics can vary, depending on the market and the products being sold, we have witnessed as much as 3-5 times as many clicks in the organic listing results as compared to the PPC listing results, in several markets.

Although the sponsored listings in the paid search section do get clicked on (and can sometimes deliver a slightly higher conversion rate) the traffic volumes for sponsored listings are significantly less than those for organic listings.

In addition, if your advertising budget cannot sustain the top spots in the sponsored listing results, as soon as you stop paying, your listings disappear completely.

Public Perception of PPC

Anyone with money can buy PPC ads (sponsored listings) so unfortunately for PPC, public perception is that these listings have not been rightfully ‘earned’ like the top listings on the organic search engine listing results, therefore most online searchers tend to favor organic listings.

With the added exposure that top search engine listings can bring, where do you want your pages to be listed?

We feel that top listings in the organic search results are paramount for any company doing business online…even companies that already have a strong PPC marketing campaign.

Getting listed at the top of the organic results will give your pages maximum Internet exposure. Having listings in both the organic and paid ‘sponsored’ listings can provide an even stronger marketing campaign, since your pages will have two chances at hitting your target audience and convincing them you have what they want and need.

Getting Ranked in the organic Results

Getting listed well in the organic search results under competitive terms is not an easy task.

The highest ranked websites have good content that describes concisely what they offer. They have plenty of good quality inbound links and the architecture of the website is ‘search engine friendly’, making it easy for search engines to crawl and index the content and follow the links.

Search engines endeavor to list the most relevant and most authoritative web pages for that particular topic.
We like to think of this as search engine reputation building and as we know reputations are not easy to build and take a long time to establish.

Getting Top Rankings is a Progressive Process

A new website will need to crawl before it can walk and walk before it can run.

Getting top rankings in organic search results is a progressive process where it’s important to determine where you currently stand and where you want to go, and then take the necessary steps to get there.

If your website is not properly developed to be search engine friendly, your pages won’t rank for competitive keyword phrases, however an experienced SEO can help you create a solid base and build up to that top ranking level by improving your website in stages.

If you have a more developed, established and search engine friendly website you could consider setting your sights higher to further improve your rankings on your more competitive keyword terms.

PPC & SEO Costs

In general, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising tends to be an ever increasing cost issue, simply because advertisers with top PPC rankings do not want to give up their exposure in the PPC search results, even against mounting competition.

In effect, PPC costs tend to keep increasing over time, as more and more advertisers move into that market.
Existing PPC advertisers tend to view search engine optimization (SEO) with some level of uncertainty, especially if they are new to SEO, yet the cost of SEO is generally a lot less than PPC marketing.

Comparing the two side by side, what you might expect to pay for PPC for a popular keyword term is far greater than targeting that term using SEO to achieve top organic listings.

PPC results can be instant if you are willing to pay the price, however your listing disappear completely if you pull your PPC marketing budget.

Top search engine listings through SEO may take some time to build but the results can be long lasting and over time, can significantly out-perform PPC marketing.

While it is not unusual for some companies to spend $5000 to $10,000 (per month!) on their PPC marketing campaigns, some of these same companies can be very reluctant to spend $1500-2000 a month on SEO…
even though statistics show that the long term benefits are far greater and costs a lot less with SEO.

The perception of some companies who invest heavily in PPC marketing is that SEO won’t be able to provide the same ROI as PPC marketing, but this is simply not true.

There are many companies that have established a strong presence in the organic search results and can easily argue that organic listings produce a significant volume of sales for considerably less than what they would spend on PPC marketing.

SEO and Server Related Issues

SEO Technical AdviceWhen website owners refer to search engine optimization (SEO), you will often hear about keywords, content development, meta & title tags and building their link popularity.

Rarely will you hear them mention server setup or how their server could be keeping them from ranking well in the search engines.

You may ask “Why would the search engines care about the server I select or how my server is set up?”

The truth is, the search engines have a lot of advertising dollars riding on your servers’ performance … and so do you.

Should the search engines find your website to be relevant for high traffic phrases, the search engines have the potential to dramatically increase your traffic and your server load.

If the amount of traffic sent to your site overloads the server or causes you a lot of downtime, this affects the user experience. If the user begins to think that a search engine shows results that aren’t working, this can cause the user to decide to turn to another search engine for better results.

SEO Server Checklist

When reviewing your server setup with search engine optimization in mind, there are a number of key areas to look at.

Many of these areas are not something you can personally fix, and often times you will need to contact your web site hosting company for assistance.

The best resource we have found for checking server related issues is www.dnsreport.com. They offer a wealth of information that can help you in determining if there are server issues that need to be addressed.

When you run the reports from DNS Stuff & DNS Reports, you will want to concentrate on the following areas:

  1. DNS Server A Records
  2. NS Records at Nameservers
  3. All Nameservers Respond
  4. CNAMEs
  5. Open DNS Servers
  6. Reverse
  7. DNS Timing
  8. Shared IP addresses

If you run these free server tests and find that these areas are not working properly or have failed, you will want to contact your website hosting company to have these issues resolved.

Often times many of these errors do not cause issues for the average website owner; but when it comes to search engine optimization, these server issues have the potential of keeping you from being listed for your most important keyword phrases.

Server Issues & Hosting Volatility

Before doing any search engine optimization on a client’s website, a search engine optimization company should always ensure that the server is working correctly.

Most professional SEO companies have had many dealings with website hosting companies; working with the web site hosting companies to educate them on how some of the areas listed above can hinder search engine optimization efforts.

Some SEO companies go through website hosting company nightmares, where they must fight tooth and nail for each area that they feel needs to be addressed.

A search engine optimization company is generally a third party company trying to do what is best for the client, but as a website owner you are the hosting company’s client; so if you meet with resistance you can simply take your business elsewhere.

How to Fix Server Related Issues

If you are told that any of the server related issues cannot be resolved, find out why. You may be told that it is your package that doesn’t cover it, or that the server that you were put on doesn’t support it. It is your job to ask them what you would need to do to resolve the issues. If they say you will need to upgrade to a higher package you may want to consider it. If they say they need to move your site ask them to do so. But don’t stop following through until the decision is in your hands. If the cost is too high for you or if your existing website host is not willing to address the server issues properly you should look at other website hosting companies.

What’s the Bottom Line?

The bottom line is if you want top search engine rankings or if you want your search engine optimization campaign to be successful, you need a unique IP address, closed DNS servers, reverse DNS working properly, Nameservers working properly, fast server response, and a clean IP.

Read about our in depth SEO Site Audit.