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Summarizing Natural SEO vs. Pay-Per-Click

Natural SEO
1. Can be thought of as an "infrastructure" investment for your site
2. Involves a one-time fee and minimal monthly outlay
3. Can take months for results to kick in
4. No guarantees for a specific ranking (position)
5. Targets a relatively low number of high-trafficked keyword phrases
6. Has the highest conversion rate and best ROI of any online marketing method
7. Highly ranked sites are perceived as being more credible
8. Over the long-term is much cheaper than pay-per-click
9. Produces long-lasting results – good optimization may last a year or more
10. Must continually work on site content, change keywords, revise content.  Results not readily visible.
11. Optimized pages should minimize Flash and never allow frame sets.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
1. Is a regular, recurring expense.  Traffic stops when you stop paying.
2. Monthly outlays will vary with the changes in the program, as well as based on traffic.
3. Can get you visitor traffic in as little as an hour after setup
4. Position is determined by the cost of the ad.
5. Is best when the goal is to target a large number of low-bid-cost (niche) keywords
6.  Conversion rates and ROI are influenced by the cost of the ad, the call to action on the site, and the allowable budget.
7.  Ranking, or position is solely based on the cost of the ad.
8.  Can be expensive, especially in some industries with highly competitive ads.  Can also be very attractive for niche phrases, and missed opportunities in keyword selection.
9. Is time consuming to monitor in-house.  Must be updated monthly at the very least.
10. Is easy to measure and track performance and effectiveness
11. Is good solution for "problem" sites that use Flash or dynamic content
12.  Is a solution for exposure on competitive search terms where you can't get a top ranking
13. Is excellent for seasonal sales or other time-dependent promotions
14.  Is a perfect interim measure until your Natural SEO results show up in the search engines


The choice of Natural SEO vs. PPC comes down to a few factors:

  • Is your site "good enough" for Natural SEO?  Or do you need to "fix" your pages so you can limp along with PPC?

  • Do you have the skills in house to maintain either program.  Would it make sense to outsource?

  • How bad does your business need traffic, and how fast do you need to get traffic?

  • Can you find niche keywords and keyword phrases that will allow you to target lower cost PPC keywords?

  • Do you have the short term budget to invest in PPC, while at the same time honing your keywords for a longer term parallel investment in Natural SEO.

Comparing the ROI of SEO vs PPC - a Jupiter Research and IProspect Study of 138 Respondents

View Article

ROI on SEO is Higher than PPC 35%
PPC ROI is Higher than SEO 11%
PPC and SEO ROI's about Egual 9%
Did Not Measure ROI 21%
Could Not  Measure ROI 10%
Were Unable to Distinguish a Difference 14%
Results are summarized only for Viewer's information.  NILSEM does not agree with or dispute the findings as a general conclusion.


Organic Search Placement is Vital (according to a recent study):

A study by Enquiro's Gord Hotchkiss in February 2004 observed the search behaviors of 24 Canadians. Searchers seemed to have divided search engines into 4 distinct areas:

  • Above-the-fold (that is, the first screen without having to scroll down) organic or natural search results, which were viewed by all searchers.

  • Below-the-fold organic search results, which were viewed by most searchers.

  • Sponsored links (Pay Per Click ads), which were viewed by only half the searches.

  • Second page and beyond, viewed by only a few of the searches.

If only half the searches look at the Pay Per Click sponsored links, it is all the more important for marketers to rank on the first screen of search results if they want to reach the maximum number of interested searchers. The full 30-page report, " Inside the Mind of the Searcher" (19 Mar 2004), may be downloaded in PDF format from the Enquiro site at no charge. http://www.enquiro.com/research.asp

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