"We were asked the question, What provides better results, SEO or PPC, by many of our clients," a representative of WiredIn SEO commented. "Many business people will be approached by pure PPC marketing companies like ReachLocal, and they will be told that the services provided by their firms are superior at providing a better rate of return on investment because of the geographic targeting aspects, when compared to SEO which has less of a geographic control, by nature." The problem is that there is very little evidence provided in these areas because there have been very few studies done which compare the two genres of marketing equally. Usually, PPC will perform better than SEO if the SEO effort has fallen short, or not been fully developed by a company that utilizes effective strategies. In these types of cases, the immediate and localized nature of PPC is far superior in providing results.
Very rare is the case when the two strategies can be compared against each other in a circumstance where they are both working well. WiredIn SEO, which can be found at http://www.wiredinseo.com was given the opportunity to analyze two years of data regarding the actual conversions to customers on websites that were utilizing both an organic SEO strategy and a PPC strategy provided by ReachLocal. The ultimate measure of effectiveness was not clicks to a website, but actual conversions as sales made and appointments booked. What was found provides conclusive evidence that organic SEO, if developed and managed by an effective SEO company, provides far more return on investment as sales and appointments booked than all other mediums tracked.
The specifics of the study compared three mediums of online marketing, organic SEO, ReachLocal PPC and a branded "expert advice" website as the sources of traffic to the target website. The fees associated with organic SEO were $1,000 per month, ReachLocal PPC was $1,500 per month and the "expert website" was $1,000 per month.
Across the three mediums, it was discovered that both organic SEO and ReachLocal PPC delivered a conversion rate of .7% of all traffic, and the expert website delivered a conversion rate of 2.5%. The expert website showed by far the highest conversion rate, but showed the smallest amount of traffic to the site, which brought the actual discussion of comparison to SEO and PPC, head to head. What was discovered was that when organic SEO efforts achieve mediocre rankings for targeted keywords (Google places 6-10) then the two mediums performed nearly identically to produce the same conversions. However, when top positions were gained through organic SEO (Google positions 1-4) the conversion rate drops slightly as the traffic becomes less directly targeted and has greater numbers, and the greater amount of traffic gained through rankings from ancillary terms that are acquired by high rankings for the targeted terms produces so much more traffic at a slightly lower conversion rate that organic SEO overtakes all other forms in it's production of sales.
The final numbers of the study showed that organic SEO efforts which produced top four results for core keywords targeted produced 280% more traffic to the website and 140% more actual sales and appointments than ReachLocal PPC. As traffic increased from the global organic audience to the website, it also increased proportionally from the localized audience which produced more actual conversions. Additionally, the organic SEO efforts are the only ones that had the ability to be expanded in order to gain more traffic, as PPC is based on a fixed amount of money for a fixed amount of clicks. The only way to increase conversions through PPC is to increase the budget or increase the conversion rate (which in this case performed exactly the same way at .7% across both mediums. Increasing the conversion rate would entail website changes, which would increase the conversion rates of both mediums proportionally, as ReachLocal utilizes an exact clone of the website in it's case. Any changes that would effect one medium would equally effect the other.
The take-away of the study is that organic SEO efforts, if approached correctly, in which solid organic positions within the localized market have been gained, when compared to PPC will perform at exactly the same as far as a conversion rate. The real difference comes into play when you look at the ancillary rankings for additional keyword variations which are achieved through rankings for the main targets. Google literally "gives you" these rankings as it views your website as being an expert on the general subject at hand, and therefor your website picks up extra traffic that cannot be gained through PPC. Although the conversion rate will be lower for these ancillary terms, they do produce sales nonetheless, and therefor illustrate that good SEO will outperform PPC in all cases. If SEO is not outperforming PPC, it is because the SEO effort has not achieved it's fullest potential.
WiredIn SEO is a strategic online marketing and SEO company located in Las Vegas, NV. They can be reached at http://www.wiredinseo.com or by calling 702-767-4637.