No matter how successful we are with either SEO or PPC, we recommend that our clients use a comprehensive strategy that includes both tactics. Although they have the same basic purpose -- to get prominent listings in the search results for key terms and attract qualified leads to the client's website -- each has advantages that go beyond this primary purpose. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Some clients who are running successful PPC campaigns and generating a fair number of leads at an acceptable cost think that it's not worth it to try improving their positions in the organic results, especially if they have been buried several pages down. We believe there are a number of reasons to start practicing good SEO as soon as possible:
SEO improves both search position and site quality.
When done well, SEO will have both an immediate and long-term impact on search position. While no one can guarantee an instant jump to the top, most sites can start climbing the search results right away, and Epoch Online has helped many reach the first page in only a few months. Also, optimizing web pages for search engines will improve them in other ways. For example, it usually makes them more compliant with current standards so that they load quickly and correctly in all browsers. It also better organizes their content to be more useful and appealing to visitors.
PPC neighborhoods can suddenly get very crowded.
The more productive a keyword is, the more competition it will attract, and the faster its cost can rise. Price wars can erupt without warning, making it harder to keep the top spots for desirable keywords within budget range.
Organic results have a special quality.
First of all, organic results are free; there's no cost-per-click to pay for the leads they produce. Secondly, searchers prefer them. All things being equal, people are more likely to click on an organic listing than a PPC listing. Finally, an organic listing lends credibility to a site by demonstrating that an impartial authority (like Google) considers it a relevant response to the search query.
Someone with high rankings in the free results may question why adding paid listings would be a good idea. In fact, there's a number of reasons why PPC ads make sense even in a case like this.
Organic results can change anytime.
SEO is a tricky business because the search engines are constantly modifying a set of rules that no one gets to see. They mostly make small adjustments, but over time these can have a big impact, and every now and then the search engines introduce sweeping changes that fundamentally alter the way things work. Companies like Epoch Online are very good at responding to these changes, but no one can guarantee a permanent position.
PPC Offers almost total control
With a PPC campaign, you determine your budget, write your own copy, and choose your keywords. The only thing you can't control is the maximum bid price, but you can decide if you want to match or beat it and go to the top of the listings for any keyword you want. When you don't appear in the organic results for an important keyword, a PPC listing can make sure searchers know you're there. Even when you do get a top spot in the organic results for a particular keyword, you may still want to supplement it with a PPC listing. Why should you do that? Read below.
PPC listings have a special quality.
PPC results offer a credibility all their own. Organic results often include irrelevant listings because the automated systems that produce them make mistakes. People know that PPC results are almost certainly relevant to their searches because the advertiser is willing to pay to have them there. Even more importantly, while it's true that people in general are more likely to click on an organic listing, that may not be the case for those who are ready to buy. Organic results are full of sources of information about particular goods and services, but buyers are looking for someone who supplies the thing itself. They know that PPC listings represent suppliers.
PPC listings provide free branding.
We've repeated over and over that search marketing and PPC ads in particular are cost effective because you only pay when someone who is looking for your product or service is referred to your site. However, that doesn't mean that your PPC listing doesn't influence people who don't even click it . . . yet. People are creatures of habit, and many will search for something that really interests them over and over. They may see your ad several times without following the link, but it makes an impression on them, telling them that you are always there, always ready to do business when they decide to move forward.