Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Paid (PPC) Search versus SEO

Increasingly I read and hear about people in the Internet marketing business arguing over whether paid search (pay per click ads) is more valuable than organic SEO, and vice versa. While there are some fascinating and relevant arguments on either side, research shows that marketers are quite satisfied with both.

A report from the SEMPO State of the Market Survey from about 18 months ago shows that 83% of respondents were using PPC compared to only 11% using SEO. Other reports show that the value of SEO is rising as user sophistication increases (according to Chris Boggs in the Spring 2007 edition of Search Marketing Standard). Marketing Sherpa’s 2005 report showed SEO conversion rates overtook PPC rates at 4.2% versus 3.6%. That’s quite the opposite of what had been found the year before.
The Direct Marketing Association reported in 2005 on a list of “online marketing strategies that produce the best ROI that PPC and SEO were rated equally according to US retailers, behind only “having a website” and “using email marketing”. A more recent study by Marketing Sherpa, though, showed SEO ahead of email marketing, with PPC a close third.
One thing seems to be true: if a given web site shows up in both the organic search engine listings and the PPC ads, that seems to super-validate it as a good choice, which increases the likelihood of a searcher clicking on one of those listings.

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