SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay per Click) are two important techniques used by webmasters and designers for marketing a website. Though both are vastly different beasts there are has been tendency to compare both with one group preferring SEO and another group, the PPC. The question basically is about whether you are looking to build a sustained business with a good steady growth pattern or whether you are looking to make a quick buck.
SEO analyses the core of the business and the purpose of the website and tries to build a marketing campaign around that. It understands what the keywords are for the business, it also understands what the likely similar keywords that the audience of this business would be looking for and then optimizes the website, through its content, images and links so that the search rankings get better and the traffic to the site builds up gradually. PPC, on the other hand, is like the ad on TV which is flashy and instantly attracts the viewers and so gains immediate audience and immediate results but the conversion rates are quite low. It is like a viewer watching an ad on TV and going to the store to look at it and then doesn’t buy it after hearing the price or seeing the product. In other words, PPC would lead to lot of enquiries and increased traffic but the quality of the traffic and the conversion rates would be lesser as compared to SEO.
SEO is a long slow process but it also gives much longer lasting results. The reason for this is that SEO addresses the core of the businesses and tries to build a loyal customer base banking on the core business rather than relying on flashy ads to gain temporary audience. SEO gets to the customer at exactly the time when he is looking for the product (by means of a search) rather than flashing ads at inappropriate times. PPC on the other hand is built on the concept of instant gratification and so it involves using flashy items to grab the attention of the viewer. So, the response would be quick and immediate but once the user enters into the site and understands the business or the product, only if the viewer is interested in the core of the business would he make a buy else all the PPC would go waste. And if the PPC ads happen at an inappropriate juncture for the user, he may not even notice the ad at all. These 2 factors contribute to lesser conversion rates for PPC than SEO.
So, though SEO has some disadvantages like taking longer time for getting results, more effort for implementing it etc., it is built on the foundations of the business and anything that works on the foundation is bound to be more successful and better in the long term than a technique which is based on a quick fix solution for gaining traffic which PPC is. Ideally, the marketing plan should seek to combine both strategies for growing the business but if you had to choose one; it has to be SEO over PPC.