If You’re Running PPC but Not SEO, You’re Missing The Boat

Clearly the power of paid search is no secret anymore.  Google is making
billions as the world’s most valuable media brand, and marketers everywhere
now have woken up to the fact that a well managed paid search campaign can
often blow away any other advertising form in terms of its return on your  investment.  But what a whole lot of people have not woken up to is, if paid search is giving them a good return, it is almost guaranteed that organic search will deliver even more for their investment over the long term.  And, both strategies used in combination creates greater results then either used alone.

Vanessa Fox (the creator of Google’s Webmaster Tools) recently wrote a great book called Marketing in the Age of Google detailing why Organic search is the great missed opportunity in marketing today.  Outlined below are some
of the facts from her book as well as other hard data points from other sources as to why you might want to get on the SEO bandwagon.

1)  The advantages of “Owning” (Organic) vs. “Renting” (PPC).  Paid search is “instant on”. You spend your money, can see results right away, and can measure everything you do. The reality is though, the minute you stop spending money, you stop getting results.  An analogy we like to use is the concept of renting a house versus owning a house.  When you rent, you can get a great place to live, but stop spending rent and you are out.  SEO is like owning—everything you’re building (optimized content, links, etc.) is yours, and the results (if seo is executed well) are the gift that keep on giving that will last well beyond the initial investment.

2)    A hedge against the risks of paid search’s market pricing.
Paid search is a real-time auction, which means your marketing is subject to
sudden increases in keyword prices.  If your business model is built on a certain return, that could change overnight.  That’s why smart marketers hedge their bet with SEO.  As Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shaw write in their book Inbound Marketing:

You are vulnerable because the price changes constantly based on competition.  The prices can spike and do so very quickly….so our advice is to appropriately balance your investment in PPC and SEO. In the early days of building web traffic, it might be necessary to buy traffic.  Or, you might be running a short campaign to collect valuable data about which keywords work.  However, over time, you should work towards establishing your organic rankings.  This investment has a better rate of return in the long-term and is much more defensible.

3) 56% of Google Queries don’t show any paid ads at all.  Which means if you rely only on paid search, you could be missing a major part of your potential market (source: comScore).

4) Research shows that an organic listing on the first page of a search result are between two and six times more visible than a paid listing.  Enquiro also found in their eye-tracking study of searchers, that 100% of users look at the very first organic search listing, but only 50% look at the first paid result.

5) Appearing both in the paid search listings and top organic listings increases your results significantly.   A study by the search agency iCrossing found that when a brand appears in both the organic and paid search results, the user clicked on that brand 92% of the time, compared to 60% of clicks when the brand appeared in only one location. Another study by the USC and NYU Schools of Business found that click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue are all higher when both organic and paid listings appear for search.

6) Appearing in Paid and Organic increases brand lift. A Google sponsored Enquiro study found a “significant correlation between companies in the top organic and sponsored ad placements and consumer brand affinity, brand recall and purchase intent.”

Understanding the differences between paid and organic search is now a fundamental part of knowing how to market today.  Implementing them effectively in combination is one of the most powerful tactics you will ever use.



John’s digital experience dates back over two decades, to before the web was born. He is currently VP Marketing for Advance Digital, and is a regular writer and speaker on topics including Search, Social Media, Content Marketing, Local Media and the Digital Marketing Revolution.

2 responses to “If You’re Running PPC but Not SEO, You’re Missing The Boat

  1. Pingback: The Power of The Search and Social Combo Meal | John H. Denny

  2. Pingback: Excerpts From ILM East: Paid vs Organic Search | John H. Denny

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