SEO is a Diet. PPC is Plastic Surgery

Just a thought I had today when I was trying to explain the difference between SEO and PPC to a customer. Consider it.

You want to shed 50 pounds. You have two choices.

You go on a diet. It’s hard work and there are a lot of different factors that effect your results. . . what you eat, how often you exercise, your mental attitude, and more. It takes time to lose the weight and here’s the kicker, keeping the weight off isn’t easy. It takes ongoing effort on your part to stay in shape. You’ll need to stay up to date on nutrition and exercise.

Okay so you’re not a big dieter. And you’re wedding is in a few short weeks. You need results now. You decide that plastic surgery might be the solution. You schedule an appointment with a doctor who explains how the procedure will work. He provides photos and testimonials from past patients to showcase his work. Maybe you even interview a few doctors. You’re going to be investing your money, and your body, so you want someone good. The day of the surgery comes and there’s some pain, but a short time later, the results are already noticeable. You’ll have to come back for a post-op checkup so the doc can make sure that you are safe.

Let’s Translate.

You want your website to rank in the organic section of Google. It’s hard work and there are a lot of different factors that effect your results. . . website content, keywords, pagerank, authority, popularity, links, title tags, bookmarks, and more. It takes time for SEO to impact ranking and here’s the kicker, staying high in the organic results isn’t easy. It takes ongoing effort on your part to keep the website high. You’ll need to stay up to date on the latest SEO and web strategies.

Okay so you’re not having much luck with SEO. And you’re biggest shopping season is in a few short weeks. You need results now. You decide that pay-per-click might be the solution. You schedule an appointment with a professional who explains how the campaign will work. He provides testimonials from past clients to prove his work. Maybe you even interview a few PPC professionals. You’re going to be investing your money, and it’s your business, so you want someone good. Your campaign starts and there are few glitches to be worked out, but a short time later, the results are already noticeable. You’re campaign will need to be monitored and tracked to continue to prove it’s value.

Get it?

Consider one more thing. Are the doctors who are telling you to eat right and exercise to lose weight the same as the doctors who are on television making people beautiful? Sometimes, sure. In fact, a good plastic surgeon will often promote weight loss before doing their part. But overall, these are very different disciplines. As are SEO & PPC.

The funny thing that I’ve experienced is that most PPC experts promote and encourage good SEO, but it rarely works the other way around. Often, the SEO expert is trying to get you to stop doing PPC. And if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know how I feel about that.

So anyway, it’s up to you. Diet? Plastic Surgery? SEO? PPC? A combination of the disciplines? You decide.

Thanks for reading.
David McBee

Why am I passionate about sponsored links?

I hear it all the time. “But David, I don’t click on the sponsored links.”

To this person I might say, “Someone is. That’s how Google makes money, and Google isn’t short on cash right now. Clearly, people are clicking on the sponsored links, or Google would be broke.”

Well, that’s the easy, if not a little smarty-pants, answer. Let’s look at it a little closer. Let’s look at why a person would click a sponsored link and let’s use a print media to help us translate how this works on the search engines.

You’re reading a magazine – usually for entertainment purposes, right? Let’s call reading a “click” for the purposes of this exercise. So you’re reading this magazine, and you’re probably “clicking” on the articles. That’s why you bought the magazine, right? The articles are the content you’re interested in. You didn’t buy the magazine for the ads. And while you may glance at the ads, you’re not “clicking” on them, right?

Well, when you’re online, most of the time, you are browsing the internet for education, or fun, or information on a certain subject. You’re probably only shopping or looking to actually spend money online a small percentage of your searches, right? So just like when you’re reading a magazine, you would probably ignore the ads and focus on the “articles”. You’re not clicking on the sponsored links because they are ads – they are businesses trying to sell you something. So no, there would be no reason to click on them . . . unless you are shopping.

But when you are shopping . . . when you have an immediate need for something – let’s say you want your deck sealed, and an ad appears that says something like “Deck Sealing – 25 Year Guarantee – Free Estimate”, then you might be inclined to click on a sponsored link – in fact, you probably don’t even care if it’s a sponsored link or an organic link. You just know that the message fits your needs, so you click.

And what if you’re the deck company? Don’t you want SHOPPERS clicking on your link? Isn’t that a little better lead than someone doing research on deck sealing? Isn’t a shopper the kind of lead you hope for on the Internet? Heck yes!

Okay, let me prove this point a little further. Take a second and Google the keyword “GPS”. What you are likely to find is that the majority of results in the organic section of Google are informational. You’ll see gps.gov and wikipedia and a gps magazine and even Garmin and Tom Tom – but they don’t sell GPS units directly from their sites. They just have information available to those who are researching GPS units. For the most part, everything in the organic section is informational and educational. Now take a look at the sponsored links. Every single one of these companies is ready to sell you a GPS unit. Your subconscious has just learned that information can be found in the organic section of Google and that the sponsored section contains many many shopping choices and results.

No, you may not click on the sponsored links very often. But really, of the many searches you did today, how many of them ended up with a purchase? I challenge you to keep track of when you are shopping and see if the sponsored section doesn’t give you the better results. I’m confident that you will start to see a pattern that looks like this: “When I’m actually shopping – looking to spend money on a product or a service, the sponsored links provide the best results.” You’ll become more conscious of this fact. You’ll want your business to appear in this section too.

Is it good to be in the organic section of Google. Of course! Being in more than one section of Google makes the most impact since appearing on the first page of Google more than once increases your opportunity for getting clicked exponentially. But with Google changing their search criteria 480 times in 2008, it isn’t always easy to make that happen, and it can change on a dime. Organic is a very good thing – but it’s a bit of a roll of the dice. (If it were as easy and as permanent as some SEO companies made it out to be – wouldn’t everyone be able to appear on the first page of Google?)

Also, take a look at my last post. You know that sponsored links appear above the organic links. Simply put, the higher you appear on the first page of Google, the better your chances of being clicked. Being at the top is better than not – even if you have to pay a few dollars for the click.

If you still think my logic is flawed, take a tip from some of the big players. A Google search for “sporting goods” has results in the organic section for Dick’s Sporting Goods as well as Cabela’s. But guess who also pays to appear in the sponsored links on this search? Yep, both Dick’s and Cabela’s. How about a search for “refrigerator”? Both Sears and Lowes appear in the organic section of Google. Clearly, they are an obvious result for a search like this. Now look to the top or even to the right of the page. Hello Sears and Lowes. Apparently you feel that customers might be clicking in the sponsored section too. 🙂

Lastly, my team meticulously tracks every PPC campaign we run, and it simply cannot be argued that PPC works. I have seen the results, heard the phone calls, and seen the jobs generated by sponsored clicks.

Would I ever recommend that you don’t do SEO? Nope. But I don’t think you should discount sponsored links.

David McBee, Internet Marketing Strategist

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