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Yes, PPC is guaranteed traffic, but it's also a guaranteed cost. And it's a cost for each click. And that click is worthless if the clicker doesn't end up buying anything.
After the initial "cost," SEO traffic is free. If a clicker doesn't end up buying anything, that particular click-in didn't cost you anything.
In general, we've found that PPC traffic converts less well than SEO traffic, and some PPC traffic converts less well than other PPC traffic. Obviously, your mileage may vary. That's where continual testing and re-evaluation comes into play.
Now, neither PPC nor SEO is a do-once-and-forget situation. Both require continual measuring and tweaking and testing and re-evaluating. SEO changes take longer to track, whereas PPC changes can be tracked immediately (depending on how you are tracking your results).
In my book, both are required. In some niches/markets, SEO should take priority, whereas in others PPC should take priority.
[edited by: LifeinAsia at 5:13 pm (utc) on Dec. 3, 2007]
I know we strive to improve our contextual targeting in our content recognition all the time. That way, the ads that we serve convert better for our advertisers.
I agree with the other posts here that testing and measuring are the way to go. Some times you will see fantastic results form unlikely places.
Do a Google search for "Adweek Honda search" and it should be the first result. Key datapoints from the article:
"Honda's brand association went from 48 percent when it was not on the results page to 59 percent when it occupied the top slot in the natural results. When in the top ad slot, Honda got an even bigger lift, to 64 percent. The side ad listings increased brand association, but not as significantly as those at the top of the page.
Similarly, purchase consideration rose from 57 percent in the control to 61 percent with the top organic result and 65 percent when Honda was in the first ad slot, too. For aided brand recall, the top organic meant a 44 percent increase, combined with the top ad listing yielded a 63 percent bump."
I have often heard this about organic vs ppc.
Do you (or anyone else) know of any documentation to validate this?
We have a travel site with great organic positioning and most of our ppc campaigns have brought in much less numbers for the same term then their organic counterpart.
Also, the conversions for us are terrible for ppc vs. organic.
[edited by: jatar_k at 9:37 pm (utc) on May 2, 2008]
SEO v/s PPC: Which is better?
I find myself saying this quite a bit lately but "it is all relative".
PPC is only going to apply in certain instances.
SEO is across the board.
I've seen PPC Campaigns that far exceed the revenue generated from organic SEO. And, I've seen vice-versa. PPC budgets are a determining factor.
I typically recommend both in addition to a host of other options. SEO and PPC are just two pieces of the pie, and its a big pie. :)
Simultaneous PPC and natural top ranks will get about 50% more clicks overall than a top natural listing alone, according to a Nielsen-Reel study at least a year old.
Simultaneous PPC and natural top ranks will cause you to be paying for some visits you would have gotten anyway if only the organic listing had been there. With PPC in those cases, you are paying for visits that would have cost you nothing if you hadn't had the PPC running. This is from a Semphonic study last year. The amount of cannibalization varies from engine to engine. In Semphonic's data, Google had the least cannibalization, MSN the most. Their study only looked at branded terms, not generic terms.
Their stats showed that for MSN, you may pay for 100 clicks but 50 of them would have come to your site anyway via the top organic listing. This means, of course, that you are paying twice as much per click for those 50 "extra" visits as you thought.
If you do all the math, you learn you can get more visits if you remove funding from terms where you have top natural ranks and spend that money on important terms where you have no natural ranks. But there's a break point. The "important terms where you have bad natural ranks" need to cost less than the ones you discontinue. Make it more complicated by using the adjusted cost of those discontinued terms, i.e. the cost per incremental visit, not the cost per click.
I know this is complicated because I'm trying to stay brief. The semphonic paper is worth reading (go to their site).
Finally, I don't know about losing natural rank if you buy the PPC term. We haven't seen this happening, but that doesn't mean it doesn't.