Is PPC the only “SEO strategy” that works?
This was a question we noticed recently on a well-known search engine marketing related website in response to an article that reported ongoing changes with Google algorithms and its impact on SEO. The question is interesting, despite the obvious paradox, because search marketers now have to seriously consider the cost versus return on their SEO efforts. This is particularly so as predictability of organic search results declines.
In the last 3-4 years, the Google search results page has undergone quite a transformation. Numerous studies have quantified that the space available for regular website listings on a SERP has gone down drastically. Numerous other elements– news, videos, knowledge graph, local listings– etc. have taken up a lot of space, pushing regular results down.
One of the biggest changes to have happened recently is the change to show 4 Google Adwords ads at the top of a results page and completely doing away with the ads on the right column. Not only does this push organic search results down the page, but also has an impact on effectiveness of Google Adwords campaigns for marketers.
SEO companies or marketers who continue to invest in SEO need to take a hard look at their numbers to decide what approach they should take to get good value for money. The flip side of paid search advertising/ PPC programs such as Google Adwords is that the traffic to the website will stop as soon as one stops/pauses the advertising campaign.
However, in some cases one might find that the incremental traffic that one can realistically achieve with organic SEO for a given amount of spend is nowhere close to the traffic that the company could have been getting via paid search.
In no way are we suggesting that investment in SEO is futile and that companies should not spend their marketing dollars on SEO and are great believers in the merits of adopting organic SEO as a key component of a company’s online marketing strategy).
On the contrary, we are suggesting that marketers engaging search marketing agencies should discuss and evaluate in detail the potential of both organic and paid search and take a collective call as to where to invest more.
We reckon that in most cases, investing in both organic SEO and paid search will be a prudent option. The extent of investment in either of these will need to be considered depending on what stage the business is in; what industry/segment it is trying to target (for example, the approach may be completely different if you are addressing a business-to-business (B2B) vis-à-vis a B2C campaign); marketing objectives, expectations and priorities; time frame in which the marketing objectives need to be met; and so on.
The right search marketing strategy will be one that is customized to the unique and specific requirements of a business; a cookie-cutter, standard strategy is a sure shot way to send a lot of marketing dollars down the drain.
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