PPC vs SEO Debate Quietly Dies

DaveN, well known for SEO, published stats about how PPC ads aided organic conversions. Andrew Goodman's firm, well known to focus on paid search, now does SEO too. It seems the PPC vs SEO debate has been quiet for a year or more. Hopefully this puts a fork in it.

Published: January 9, 2008 by Aaron Wall in pay per click search engines


Dave Keffen
January 9, 2008 - 2:40pm

Hi Aaron

Interesting post from DaveN. I think he's making a very valid point.

To illustrate: In general, when looking at stats for our retail store (not SEO related), we look carefully at the part where clients tell us how they heard of us.

Many tick the box on our enquiry form for 'Recommended by a friend'.

When questioned by a member of staff, they may well expand on this by saying "My friend told me about you, but I first saw you in a magazine".

So in other words, the magazine played an important part in the process.

Likewise there is no doubt in my mind that PPC plays it's part even when organic SERPs are good.

Having said this, our retail store's organic SERPs are good enough for us not to worry over PPC campaigns at the moment. We have carefully weighed the difference in profits that we make with organic only results and for us, the difference is not enough to continue with PPC at the current time.

This clearly is not going to be the case for all businesses. Especially those that exist purely online.

That's my 10 cents worth anyway.

January 9, 2008 - 2:14pm

I do hope this marks the end of the us vs them approach. I've always felt that the impact of combined high organic rankings and PPC placement is greater than the sum of its parts; that PPC and organic listings reinforce each other in the mind of the consumer.

For different business models it's possible to exist on one method or the other, but it's hard to beat having both working in concert with each other.

January 9, 2008 - 4:49pm

Hey Aaron,

Just wanted to give you a heads up. It seems that your google rankings checking tools have been out of commission since yesterday. Just wanted to let you know in case you haven't noticed.

January 9, 2008 - 10:46pm

I will try to get them fixed ASAP.

Megan Carruth
January 9, 2008 - 7:11pm

The PPC vs. SEO debate has always been somewhat faulty.

Although there are general trends that can be observed and that seemingly point to one over the other, the 'best option' or 'combinations of options' should be determined by each business's unique set of circumstances, should they not?

I.e.; DaveN might be seeing an increase in organic conversions from participating in PPC, but can it be soley attributed to PPC in general, for the rest of us, and for the sake of the fork in the argument?

His audience's user behavior, his industry and market position, current organic rankings and domain age; these are among a multitude of factors at work in his case, all of which will be varying to some degree among different businesses. Someone set me straight, please.

January 9, 2008 - 10:57pm

I have seen PPC lead to SEO success as well. As another example, my PPC ads have been seen on a forum, where a forum reader then asked a question about my book. Then the forum community created a testimonial thread that sold a dozen or so ebooks. This has happened multiple times too.

January 9, 2008 - 7:37pm

Interesting point of DaveN. PPC and organic SEO are complementary and I think there is no reason for a rude debate between these two topics.

January 10, 2008 - 12:58am

I thought it was dead! I guess being naive has been working to my advantage for once.

January 10, 2008 - 1:44am

I absolutely agree. And it's not just for base companies either. It's for affiliates too. I frequently found that PPC campaigns have a sluggish time period every so often, and that having a properly SEOed site backing them up can help make up the difference, ensuring everything stays profitable until a better time period for the PPC.
Market from every angle you have, or don't bother.

January 10, 2008 - 2:45am

I have been a big fan of using PPC to drive organic links. That has been one of the cheapest and cleanest link building techniques I have ever used.

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