Search engine optimization and pay-per-click

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By Collette Easton

Why is it necessary to spend all this time and money on organic search engine optimization (SEO)? Why can't you just buy the search phrases on Google? Well, they are two very different practices and yield very different results.

Pay per click: The details


Pay per click (PPC) is a complementary channel to SEO and involves indentifying key search terms and bidding for a place in the paid for listings area when those terms are searched.

SEO and PPC keyword advertising are two different approaches for achieving the same purpose: to drive targeted traffic or sales leads to a Web site. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and using a well-defined strategy where both tactics are used in a complementary fashion often gains excellent results.

For example, one efficient approach is to optimize a site for the most important keyword phrases that are searched frequently, and to conduct PPC keyword advertising on those keyword phrases that are less frequently searched. This is economically sound because SEO entails much effort and attendant cost, and should therefore be used on the most popular keyword phrases that will provide a quicker return on investment.

Keyword phrases that do not get much volume of search are in many ways ideal for keyword advertising because they are likely to be overlooked by your competition, and being less competitive, will likely carry lower cost-per-click rates and better ROI.

Organic search versus PPC


Comparing PPC to SEO is similar to comparing advertising and public relations. Advertising is a clear-cut buy, whereas PR seeks to indirectly influence opinion by influencing the objective editorial of media. Unlike PR, which is hard to track and measure, SEO is highly measurable. It does the same thing as PPC advertising – drive targeted traffic to your site through Internet searches.

Results appearing in the organic search results receive the lion's share of user clicks – between 60 to 70 percent, depending on factors such as the prominence of ads, relevance of secondary content, and the type of search conducted. The difference is that while SEO often can take days or weeks to notice an effect, PPC can be instantaneous.

You can use this to your advantage by using PPC advertising for short-term gain, while the benefits of your SEO start to filter through. As your presence within the natural listings start to deliver more tangible benefits, you can then decide how soon and by how much to reduce your spend on advertising.

Key point to remember


SEO and PPC can complement each other and form a robust search engine marketing program. It is essential to understand the differences and the very distinct benefits of each. One is not a substitute for the other.

This is the third of three extracts from the PracticeWEB SEO for Accountants Best Practice Guide.

About the author:

Collette Easton is head of the new search engine marketing division at our sister site, PracticeWEB.

Reprinted from our sister site,

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