SEO and PPC: Modern warfare made easy

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Tim Schaden
Tim Schaden

Let's face it: Search marketing is an extremely competitive battleground. There is only one first page of Google, Yahoo and MSN for each key phrase, and brands can be blown out of position at any minute. The only way to win the war is by selecting your battles and aligning your resources wisely.

It's too bad Sun Tzu didn't have an air force. He would never have gone into battle without it. Luckily modern marketers have the search equivalent and they would be crazy not to use it. Pay per click (PPC) advertising can reach the broadest possible regions of the search market at the speed of light — and with niche exploiting precision, report back on the results in real time.

PPC requires only strategy, skill, targets and funding. It can be used in reaction to a threat or opportunity. It can be turned on and off tactically with little or no remaining footprint or expense. This flexibility, breadth and pinpoint targeting cannot be matched by search engine optimization (SEO). But like a great air force, it can direct, inform and compliment its slower, more powerful counterpart to achieve maximum impact to the bottom line.

That being said, ground forces, like a well-constructed Web site, can get a lot more complicated and productive work done over time. Businesses can gain more than 70% of their traffic from non-paid traffic. However, like ground forces, they are slower to deploy and require significant initial and ongoing investment to be truly successful. Their long-term success is based largely on how well informed they are before being deployed. Smart search marketers use PPC to test before they invest in any SEO effort.

In more competitive situations, the dominating force uses the fast and flexible resource to direct and complement the slower and more permanent. Here's how it tends to work on the “top page” battlefields:

  • Clients adding PPC to existing SEO campaigns have traditionally seen 40%-50% increases in organic traffic.
  • PPC phrases that produce great prospects but are too expensive often make fantastic SEO investments. For example, for several years we kept the Tropicana Hotel Casino in the number one or two organic spots in Google for “Vegas casino” and “Las Vegas casino.”
  • Sites achieving the top paid and non-paid listing on the first page of a major search engine have been able to draw 92% of the clicks from that search result.
  • Using PPC to test the effectiveness of an SEO landing page can increase the conversions for that page much more quickly and accurately than SEO testing alone.
  • With Google's new Quality Score taking site content into consideration, SEO now helps keep PPC costs in line

When targets are more event- or opportunity-based, one tactic or the other may suffice. But when going directly up against your most fierce competitors (your major markets and service offerings), you must deploy both the fast and the strong in order to dominate each position in the sales funnel. 

Tim Schaden is CEO of Fluency Media. Reach him at


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