Organics versus PPC

Justin Stiles says: “Why do you even waste your time talking about organics when PPC is sooooo much easier?”

Thanks for writing, Justin. I went to a 5 am Bikram Yoga class and it really lowered my blood pressure — too much so, in fact. It was either take up smoking; eat Beef Jerky; suck on a salt lick; or well respond to you…
This whole PPC thing is one of my pet peeves — don’t get me wrong, ILOVE PPC — but for the love of all things holy, ORGANICS ROCKS TOOand technically, it’s kinda-sorta free. (I say kinda-sorta becausethese days, most people pay a SEOconsultant to help them.)
When paid search came into play, many marketers got lazy and abandoned all their organic efforts. As I said in one of my other posts, that’s a shame of epic proportions as for many companies, organic results are their best converters.
Needless to say, there’s room in your program for both PPC and organics.
The best part of organics is that you don’t need to build Rome in a day — doing small things over a period of time can often make a difference. Look at your page titles; make sure your URL strings are simple and static; ensure your redirects are set-up properly; use meaningful links (for example, click here now is NOT good); use H1 heading tags effectively; and check your meta descriptions (aka elevator pitches) to make sure they are aggressive enough to get someone to click.


  1. tom funk says

    I am with you, on this, Amy! For a couple reasons:
    1) PPC vs. SEO is not an either-or. As long as you are making money on it, you should do both. It’s the flipside of someone who asks, “I rank number one for my term organically, why should I pay for it too?” The answer: about 20% of clicks will go to the ads instead of organic results. If you’re getting ROI from a paid ad, keep it up, regardless of your SEO position.
    2) There are low-converting terms you’d never make work in PPC, that make you plenty of money organically. We have a client who ranks well organically for “woodworking tools” and gets significant revenue from it. Every time we’ve tried the same term in the PPC program, we get our heads handed to us — insufficient ROI. Same is true for all those long-tail terms that good SEO brings to the surface. The low individual volume often wouldn’t pay to create even generic ads for these terms, but in SEO it’s all good.

  2. Kim Painley says

    The nails in your vicinity must all have headaches, Amy…you just hit another one on the head.

    Not only does good SEO bring high quality, (practically) free traffic and conversions, it is also becoming a more and more important part of a healthy PPC program. Let’s face it, Google is King, and you could pay through the nose if Google doesn’t like your PPC landing page. And how does Google determine if a landing page is “good”? They use a version of their organic spiders to evaluate the text on the page and in the tags. The keywords you are bidding on – or words that are very closely related – better be there. The penalty could be small or huge depending on how competitive the terms are, but who needs a penalty, period?

    Although bid and click-through-rate are still the primary drivers behind PPC page placement (last time I checked Google was still in the business of making money), page relevance can make a difference…not only in terms of what you pay per click, but also in conversions.

    My final thought on SEO…at least for the moment…

    Search engine spiders can not read all that lovely, fancy-font text that is embedded in images! If you have image-embedded text, repeat the text in your alt tags.

  3. Michael Briggs says

    I agree with everything, and would add;

    Something like 80% of all searches are done for information seeking only, no intent to complete a transcaction. I would sure hate to rely on PPC for those terms as the return on investment would simply not be there. Best to use organic efforts on these low converting, high in the conversion funnel terms. Then use both Organic and Paid Search for the rest.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *