SEO vs. Keyword CPC

Stephen Yagielowicz

Editor's Note: Like many of you, I am inundated with spam – no matter how I try to minimize the amount or frequency of this unwanted assault on my inbox. While the mailings that bypass my filters are deleted wholesale (along with the odd "important" e-mail that I accidentally erase), they are on occasion read – and sometimes provide content for my adult properties, and if appropriate, even at XBiz. The following is one such piece that came to me as an unwanted advertisement for an Internet marketing firm. While I won't reward their spam with a link, I will leave in the principal's name and company, and present this "interview" for your consideration: ~ Stephen

"An Nsider Interview"
Things have been busy these days, and it's getting harder to find time to stay on top of the ever-changing e-business landscape. Dave Hyers – EVP at Ecisive Corporation, an interactive firm that specializes in SEO strategies, high-end web design and application development – gave TheNsider the following insights:

TheNsider: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) keyword advertising are two different approaches for achieving the same purpose: to drive targeted traffic or sales leads to a web site. So which way is your firm leaning these days?

DH: Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and it is our experience that search engine marketing is most effective when both tactics are used in a complementary fashion. For example, one approach is to optimize a site for the most important keyword phrases that are searched frequently, and to do CPC keyword advertising on those keyword phrases that are less frequently searched. This is economically sound because SEO entails much more effort and should therefore be used on the most popular and timeless keyword phrases that will provide a quicker return on investment.

TheNsider: It seems everyone today is doing CPC keyword advertising, while few are engaged in SEO. What gives?

DH: That’s understandable. CPC advertising is easily understood, at least on a surface level. You create an ad for a keyword, bid it into a position where it will reach consumers, and pay for your click-throughs. SEO, on the other hand, is regarded by many as a mysterious, elusive black art. It also carries some negative connotations because, in years gone by, it was abused by cloaked pages and illegitimate directories. Now the tides have turned, more often than not, consumers will often skip the "sponsored listing" and opt for today’s more accurate organic listings instead.

TheNsider: It’s been said the CPC compared to SEO is somewhat analogous to advertising and public relations. Would you agree?

DH: Yes and definitely no. Advertising is a clear cut ad buy, whereas PR seeks to influence indirectly, oftentimes by influencing the objective editorial of media. But here’s where the analogy breaks down. Unlike public relations, which seems to defy measuring and tracking, SEO is highly measurable and certainly more cost effective. And it does the same thing as CPC advertising, which is to drive targeted traffic to your site through Internet search, only at a better ROI.

TheNsider: So what’s the bottom line?

DH: If we take SEO and CPC advertising as mutually exclusive marketing vehicles, SEO programs provide more value. One huge benefit for SEO it that it is a long-term solution. For a moderate upfront investment, you can climb to the top of the rankings and stay there – sometimes for up to a year depending on competition and market conditions. The drawback is that it can take up to three months to make that climb. CPC is more of a quick fix, instant gratification. The downside is that someone can and will outbid you. Then it takes more cash just to get the same results. In that sense it’s like an addiction. I’ve seen it happen before. It’s sad. What we do is provide a healthy marketing mix. We offer a Complimentary Ranking Report which will help business decision-makers get a better idea of where they are – and where they could be.

While I've made a few minor changes to the copy, the essence of the message is both valuable and informative; and although it was part of one of the best e-mail marketing pieces I've seen, it was at the end of the day just another hunk o' spam – but a tasty bit of spam nevertheless! Enjoy!