How PPC, SEM and SEO Work Together

Just about anyone who has an investment account, retirement account, 401k, or an interest in the financial markets at any level will tell you that some investments are meant for the short term, while others are meant for the long term. A prudent investment adviser will never tell you to buy stock from only one company; rather, you should spread out your risk by investing in a balanced portfolio consisting of many different types of investments.

What we know about finance and investing goes back over 200 years to the dawn of capitalism, but we’ve had only 10 to 15 years to formulate our understanding of online marketing. But just because Internet marketing is relatively new doesn’t mean we can’t apply sensible principles and logical practices, even if we have to borrow them from another industry.

When we talk about investing in online marketing with our clients, we look at the full spectrum of opportunities. Pay-per-click advertising on search engines has a short-term focus that delivers almost immediate results. Invest in a PPC campaign with the goal of data gathering, testing creative, measuring conversion, benchmarking site content, promoting upcoming events, seasonal or blow-out sales, and other short-term goals. Unless your product or service involves a monthly recurring revenue model, the return on investment in PPC is extremely difficult to prove, especially given the fact that the average cost per click just keeps getting more and more expensive as competition increases. Increasing costs is just one of the many reasons we never recommend that our clients rely exclusively on PPC/SEM. However, the intrinsic reward of a strategically designed pay-per-click campaign includes actionable, real-time, real-world hard data on which to base your more long-term online marketing strategies and investments.

In contrast to the instant gratification provided by a search engine marketing campaign, search engine optimization is a long-term online marketing strategy that can provide an unlimited return on investment. Using the results and information gathered by an ongoing search marketing effort, an SEO strategy can be fine-tuned to include the optimal mix of key phrases, content, links, and offers that proved most successful during the PPC tests. Armed with this knowledge and backed by actual data on what worked best in the short term, a well-crafted SEO campaign will have the greatest likelihood of success with the maximum possible return on investment.

Whereas an SEM strategy focuses on instant traffic to a site, SEO focuses on building a permanent home for the highest response keyphrases. Ultimately, the two strategies work hand in hand. If you’d never make an investment without talking to a financial advisor who understands both your short-term and long-term goals, then so, too, should you never make an online marketing investment without talking to an SEO/SEM expert who understands your short-term and long-term marketing goals.

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