Organic vs. Paid Search Traffic: Which is Better?

You’ve spent major dollars and hours to get your new website running, what do you want next? Traffic!

As a savvy marketer, you know that the three most important traffic sources are: search engine, direct, and referral traffic. To obtain more search engine traffic, you can employ Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns to generate organic traffic, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns for paid traffic.

The question is: which is better?

The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve the website ranking for relevant keywords. Effective SEO campaigns generally require long-term and dedicated efforts. Results will not appear overnight. But when your website has reached a certain high rank, consistent organic traffic is expected. SEO campaigns do not bring leads directly; however, our experience has shown that organic traffic does convert to a higher ratio of leads or sales than does paid traffic.

Although widely employed, only relying on onsite SEO efforts (which includes optimizing SEO tags, internal links, file names and page URLs, among others) is less and less effective for a website to achieve high rankings. Much of this is due to Google’s ever evolving search placement algorithm, which most recently has put an even greater value on the recency of content, as well as the relevance of the content itself.

The secret to success then is to continuously generate fresh and unique content that will attract a large amount of inbound links deemed more important by “adapted”search engines.

The best way to generate this type of content is through blogging and subsequent distribution of your blog posts through social media networks. Search engines are placing an ever-important weight on social media usage (look at the relationship between Google and its social platform, Google+, for example), elevating the importance of using social media to share content you write for your blog.

On the other side, setting up a simple Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign can be quick and easy. You can get a few ads up and running on Google within a few hours, if not a few minutes. Different from organic efforts though, with PPC you need to consider both search volume and how competitive the terms are when creating your campaigns and budgets. That way you can maximize you PPC budget by not spending too much on highly expensive terms or terms that have high search volume but result in few leads/sales.

Search engines also highly value relevance, so you need to draw a strong connection between your keywords, ads, landing page copy and your business. In other words, if a page on your website does not include a specific word or phrase but you want to use it in a PPC campaign, you’re going to pay a lot more than a competitor that has a nice landing page with that term all over the headline and sprinkled in the body copy.

So back to the question: which is better? Both!

PPC bring quick results, but each visit to your site will cost you. SEO on the other hand, helps improve the authority of your website and bring consistent long-term results – but takes a lot of work to get setup and requires long-term effort. A wise online marketer would consider to combine SEO and PPC efforts. This will allow you to bring visitors to your website in the short term, and hopefully produce revenue that will fuel the content creation and SEO effort well into the future.

To be effective, you can expect countless hours learning how to utilize the extensive SEO and PPC best practices available to you. Not to mention the enormous ongoing investment in time needed to adapting to the changes Google will surely make and staying ahead of future advancement in the field. At least that’s what we do.

* Original post appears on CommCreative website

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