This week I had a conversation with a small business owner who is interested in shifting marketing efforts from pay per click (PPC) to organic search engine optimization (SEO). The company has traditionally spent their time and money on PPC and has not put much resources or funding towards SEO. The gentlemen wanted to know his options and my thoughts on jumping into the SEO arena.

Our conversation made me think further about the integration of SEO and PPC. Can the coexist or are they entities that must remain separated?

Good SEO Takes Time and Resources

Yin Yang of SEO and PPCI am pretty opinionated on both SEO and PPC. I have always viewed PPC as cocaine for marketers, because money is spent in hopes of a quick high and zero long-term value is derived. I view SEO as just the opposite. There is minimal short-term value, but a huge amount of long-term benefit.

I openly acknowledge my ignorance on pay per click campaigns and I do not encourage or accept projects for PPC management. I do this because my background is in organic SEO and our firm is focused on achieving ranking via content marketing and social media efforts.

Because I believe so strongly in organic SEO, I want everyone else to love it as much as I do. The older I get, the wiser I get and the more I realize SEO is simply not right for every business.

Sometimes pay per click (yes PPC) might be the right option.

Is SEO Right for You?

How do you know if SEO or PPC is right for your firm? Is it possible to segment marketers into PPC or SEO? In my opinion it boils down to a few brief, yet critical questions:

Do you have the in house resources available to write quality content?
Can these resources be given a roadmap to follow for creating SEO friendly content?
Can these resources produce enough content to match that of your competition?
Can you and will you engage in social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
If you answer yes to these questions, then SEO is a potential fit. If you state you lack the time and resources for content marketing and social media, then you organic SEO is not for you. In today’s online world, you cannot achieve SEO success without content marketing and social media at the forefront of your marketing objectives. It simply won’t happen because fresh, unique content and social shares and votes are part of the search engine’s ranking algorithm.

Is PPC Right for You?

If you answered no to the previous questions, then SEO is probably not going to be a fit. I’d next ask you questions to see if PPC is a plausible fit. In particular, I would ask:

Do you have funds to devote each month to PPC ads?
Are you willing to pay a firm to manage the PPC campaigns for you?
If you again answer yes to these questions, then PPC might be the best option. As much as I dislike online advertising, I know it serves a segment of the market where SEO is not a good fit. There are companies that simply do not have the time or resources available to create solid content and for these situations, PPC might be the only valid option.

But What About Focusing on Just on Social Media?

Occasionally I’ll speak with a company who is against SEO and PPC. They tell me they don’t have time to write content and don’t want to spend money on advertising. After hearing this I’ll ask them how they expect to bring in traffic and the usual response is social media.

They expect to focus all their efforts on Facebook (for example) and this will drive traffic. My next questions is always about their social media plan and what type of “things” they plan on sharing via Facebook. Guess what happens – silence. Dead, long, painful silence.

Social media works great for driving web traffic and overall branding, but you have to have something of value to share. While you can provide information from other websites or sources, that won’t drive a large amount of traffic to your own website.

Social media should be part of a larger marketing program. It cannot be the entire program.

Blending SEO and PPC

The older and wiser me now believes there are many instances where you can utilize a combination PPC and SEO.

For start up companies or those new to internet marketing, a blend of PPC and SEO might be the best option. SEO takes time and you don’t land on page one of Google overnight. For SEO to work you need to have a strategic, long-term plan in place that is executed over time. SEO requires you to nurture your website. You need to build your authority and credibility with the search engines. At the initial stages of your SEO plan, PPC may be a great short-term option for search traffic while you work on long-term SEO objectives.

Another situation is when you compete in an environment where higher volume keywords are just outside your reach. In this situation you could devote PPC funding to higher volume and more competitive keywords, but use SEO to target long tail keywords that are easier to rank with on search.

Finding Balance

The thing to remember is that you cannot build a website and just wait for traffic to come. You’ll be waiting forever, because the internet is completely filled with website upon website all waiting for visitors.

You need to have some sort of marketing plan to bring traffic into your website. Be it pay per click, search engine optimization, or social media – a plan is needed. Decide on core marketing objectives and create a plan designed around those goals. Then proceed forward in executing your plan and tracking your results.

Find balance in your marketing plan and focus your plan not on what you’ve read or overheard, but on what is right for your specific organizations.