Overview of the Ultimate Search Marketing Battle – PPC vs SEO

Feb. 18, 2010 | by julie.hoyle

On Tuesday, I ventured to Angel for the SES London conference and caught an inspiring debate amongst the top SEOs and SEMs in the industry. These included Rand Fishkin, Dave Naylor and Ralph Tegtmeier fighting for SEO and Paul Mead and Andrew Goodman for PPC. It was great to hear their take on the industry and where it is heading as well as a debate over the strengths and weaknesses of both PPC and SEO.

The session was kicked off by looking at the top line statistics comparing PPC and SEO, PPC wins out right!:) PPC had a slightly higher conversion rate, average order value, value per visit and average time on site. Please note though these stats do not take into account if SEO was involved within the users click journey.

Image Credit: CC Flickr User kudumomo

Both methods have the negative points that each team brought up:

Click fraud is an issue in PPC.  Here Dave Naylor quips “that is the great thing about SEO – I don’t mind my friends and family clicking on my organic listings. I don’t even care about people doing click fraud on my organic listings”.  Another concern for PPC is with the market growing more competitive CPC prices are inflating especially around the finance sector. Could it ever reach the state where it is not cost effective?

The main risks pointed out for SEO were getting banned or penalised through black hat methods. Another is uncontrollable drop offs in rankings, which cannot always be explained and tracking revenue generated. It is easy to control paid ads positions and track the results generated. As Mead mentioned from a PPC perspective it is crazy to think of going into a client meeting and just talking about positions rather than the ROI generated!

It is thought that the PPC industry has already matured and is looks likely to stay static in the future whereas, SEO is a rapidly growing industry. It is in Google’s best interest to ensure that advertisers media spend does not decrease in the future. Recently they have brought out new products to help increase the activity on paid ads. These have included site links where it has been said that advertisers have seen up to a 50% increase in CTR%. The plus box is also being trialled pushing the organic search listings further down the page. It was discussed that there may come a time where page 1 is dominated by PPC and Google property listing and that natural search results will not be visible until page 2.  The panel agreed that it does appear to be heading this way and when it happens Google could lose their market share.

It is extremely hard to test PPC ‘vs’ SEO, and in order to get a true comparison it is essential to factor in SEO agency costs, time and manpower put into the results. Many professionals have looked into the effects of paid and natural traffic working together and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Rumours have circulated that when switching off the paid ads the natural search picks up the traffic and as well as the other extreme. In my experience when PPC is turned off the uplift in Natural clicks and conversions does not make up the deficit.

It essential that companies embrace both paid and natural search and use them to their advantages. Look at your rankings together and optimise both. If natural results are strong try moving paid search budget to areas with weak SEO rankings. Utilise Paid ads for terms to assist promoting special offers or quickly getting marketing message out there as well as keywords with high buying intent and high rankings in SEO for the research stage. Crucially the synergy between the 2 must be tested.

The knowledge and intelligence of the 5 speakers at this session shone through and all in all I found it a quick witted and highly inspiring session.

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    Comments (2)

    • SES London blog coverage according to Bit.ly | #KiiPass

      [...] Overview of the Ultimate Search Marketing Battle – PPC vs SEO [...]Apr 22, 2013 04:13 am

    • PPC – ppc products | Hyper Affiliate Blog

      [...] Overview of the Ultimate Search Marketing Battle – PPC vs SEO …13 hours ago by julie.hoyle  On Tuesday, I ventured to Angel for the SES London conference and caught an inspiring debate amongst the top SEOs and SEMs in the industry. These included Rand. – [...]Feb 19, 2010 03:46 am

     
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