Q and A: Why use paid advertising and not consider organic listings?


Dear Kalena…

What are some of the reasons a person will continue to spend thousands of dollars a day on paid advertising and not consider Organic listings. How would you begin to approach persons like this aside from the obvious question…Why?


Hi Willie,

As you are probably aware, there has been debate for years over the Pros and Cons of  Pay Per Click (PPC) versus Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – with many people holding strong opinions for and against both.  There is way to much info on this topic to cover properly in this little old Q and A, but I’ll try an summarise the highlights and give my perspective on the issue.

Some PPC benefits

  • Fast results – can usually start seeing results within hours (or even minutes) of activating a campaign
  • Only Pay when a user clicks
  • Relatively easy to target the Keywords you want
  • Don’t necessarily have to change your site
  • Good Tracking capabilities (so can monitor, measure, adjust and improve)
  • You get to define where users go (you specify the landing page)
  • Can target Specific regions/localities for your ad to appear
  • Achieve Page 1 visibility quickly and easily (but not necessarily cheaply)

PPC can be a very effective way to promote a website (particularly a new site). However once you stop spending, your ads stop showing, and the visitors stop coming – there is no long term benefit for the expense.  PPC is relatively quick and easy to setup – but it is just as quick and easy for your competitors – if they have deeper pockets, they could ultimately win, no matter what you do.

As long as you know what a click is worth to you, and are certain that the returns are greater than the cost, PPC can be very effective.  You don’t care if it costs you $2,000 (or more) a day as long as it generates $5,000.

PPC is one of the few ways a brand new site can get found in the search results and start to generate traffic (and revenue) while the longer term SEO strategies kick in. The data generated from a PPC Campaign (such as which keywords are converting) can also be an extremely useful source of information for an SEO campaign.

About SEO

Here are some of the benefits of Search Engine Optimization:

  • Visitors from Organic Search are Free
  • The rankings a website achieves through SEO can continue for a long time after the work has been completed
  • On-page changes (which are probably necessary for SEO) can help improve conversions as well as traffic
  • Typically more searchers click the natural search engine results (88%) versus the pay per click ads (12%), so you are likely to get much more traffic from Organic results.
  • Users typically feel Organic Search Results have a higher “trust” level

Of course SEO is not free – it requires effort and investment, often over a long period.  In some competitive niches it can be very difficult (or even impossible) to achieve page 1 rankings, but in most niches it is possible to relatively easily achieve reasonable rankings and traffic. As far as I am concerned, it’s the user that should be at the heart of any SEO strategies. Pretty much whatever you do to improve the user experience is likely to improve your rankings and conversion rates (and ultimately increase sales/enquiries)

I’m actually a fan of both PPC and SEO (and I’m not just fence sitting), there are Pros and Cons to each and depending on your specific needs, one or the other (or even both) could be right for you.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

Q and A: Can running a PPC Campaign affect my Organic Rankings?


Dear Kalena…

I was wondering if you have an active ppc program if this hurts you in natural search optimization since your paying for keyword placement. Why would Google/Yahoo rank you high if your already paying them lots of money. I tested this by pausing my Yahoo ad for 1 month and sure enough my keywords are all on front page when beforehand they were are pages 3-5. Too nervous to do with Google since we spend a lot per month.


Hi Billy,

This is a topic which has been much debated over the years, but the short answer is No, running a PPC Campaign will have no “direct” impact on your rankings.

People have speculated that using PPC might improve your rankings (as a reward by the search engine) or – as you’ve have suggested – decrease your rankings (presumably to encourage people to click on the ads).

It should be very easy to test, and many people have tried to prove it one way or the other – but I am unaware of any conclusive proof.  Even though your test seems to suggest a correlation between your PPC and organic rankings, you only appear to have done a part of the test.  In order to prove the correlation you would need to turn on and off your PPC campaign over an extended period and track this against changes in your rankings.

In my opening sentence above, I emphasized that there is no “direct” effect, because running an aggressive  PPC campaign could in fact have an indirect impact on your organic rankings – in a couple of different ways :

  1. By running PPC you will get extra traffic in a shorter amount of time, and the data that this generates can help you to tweak and improve factors that can influence your organic rankings.  For example, through using a broad range of keyword phrases on your campaigns – and by looking at the impressions you get, you will get an idea of which phrases are being searched most often.  You should also be able to determine which keywords are converting better.  By focusing your optimisation efforts on high volume and higher converting phrases, you will boost your rankings and your sales or enquiries.
  2. Running PPC will also raise the visibility of your brand and your site. You will be getting extra visitors – and if they like what they see they are likely to link to your site.  This in itself will also improve your organic rankings.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing