When it comes to Web marketing strategies, sometimes it's difficult to know where to start. A question we hear often is:

Should I start marketing my website with search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC)?

The response from our three in-house experts was unanimous! You need both. Here's why...

Stoney (@StoneyD): While both SEO and PPC results are displayed on the same search results page, they operate very differently (and independently) from each other. PPC can be set up much quicker and get results sooner than SEO can. But don't let that make you think you'll "instantly" get ROI out of it. PPC takes optimization before profits are secure. SEO, on the other hand takes along longer to work. My suggestion is, if you can afford it, get started on PPC right away to start bringing in profits sooner. While the PPC campaign improves, be working on the optimization of your website, targeting keywords, building links, growing your social base and improving conversions.

Question-Mark-200x300.pngCraig (@craiggeis): SEO takes time to gain ground, so starting asap is important. SEO also improves site usability because it takes visitors into account. You need PPC because it helps fill the traffic void while SEO is ramping up. Together they generate a synergy effect on visibility and conversions.

Mike (@mflem25): There are going to be keywords up front that you know you want to rank for. Begin both PPC and SEO for those keywords immediately. Your long term goal is to dominate search results pages for keywords that work at growing your business. The best way to do that is to have listings through both PPC and SEO. Each reinforces the other, resulting in overall lift of visitors and conversions. In fact, with the rise of universal search (including product listings, local listings, product extensions and the like), you can have more than two options for the searcher on a page, all with different messages.

After you've ranked well for keywords, you know should be hitting home runs. Use PPC experiment data as intelligence for where to go next and how to proceed. Since SEO typically takes 6-12 months to begin seeing significant results (if done right), here are some advantages that PPC offers that make it a channel you don't ever want to leave behind.


  1. Results - You don't have to wait to see if a keyword, landing page, message or promotion will work. You know what is going on as soon as you get statistically significant data.

  2. Feedback - You're target customers immediately tell you what keywords they are using to find what you offer, allowing you to customize the conversion process for their needs.


  1. Performance - Improvements in performance can be made instantaneously.

  2. Keywords - You decide exactly what keywords you show up for. With SEO, pages can show for many unqualified keywords. Also, how about the keywords you aren't ranking organically for yet, but that are important to your business? You can have a presence there at a profitable ROI.

  3. Landing Pages - You decide exactly what landing pages prospects using specific keywords land on. With SEO, visitors on those same keywords may land on a variety of site pages.

  4. Location - You are able to geo-target your ads to customers to make them more relevant. With SEO, there is no geo-targeting function.

  5. Position - You can decide to pay for any position on the page. Although it's not necessarily desired, you CAN test to find out what an optimal position is for you and stay there.

  6. Spend - You can immediately raise and lower your bids or budget depending on results and other outside factors of your business.

  7. Ad Messages - You can immediately test ad messages to see what resonates with your prospects better.

  8. Promotions - If you want to run a promotion, you can immediately gather targeted customers to that promotion.

  9. Special Situations - If something happens where you need to get a message out on specific keywords right away, PPC gives you this option.


  1. Keywords - Which keywords work and which don't? You want to know before you optimize your site organically for them. PPC gives the added ROI of market intelligence.

  2. Landing Pages - Which landing pages work to convert which keyword markets? PPC gives this too.

  3. Ad Messages - Testing ads is immediate and easy to do, giving you results based on data, not opinion.

Look for our Q&A posts about online marketing each month. Or, if you have a question you'd like to ask our team, just send it to ask@polepositionmarketing.com. We'll be glad to answer via our blog.

August 3, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Useful stuff! Running a PPC campaign on your own can be tricky but there are a lot of great resources out there. I found a few cheap guides and a free informational email series at http://www.portent.com/ that have really helped. I'm still learning and have definitely made some costly mistakes but the benefits have out-weighed the costs so far.

Seo just got alot harder with the google panda slap alot of sites have experienced, so im looking towards PPC for the first time.

No one can walk with one leg! Even some talented does, he/she will be left far behind everybody in the race. Same apply to here. Not only do you need to start with both, the effect of adopting both SEO and PPC is like 1 + 1 > 2. What's more, PPC can often reach audience the organic search can't(adwords displayed on third-party websites). By fine tuning the ad placement, you can maximize the audience coverage. The agility and coverage PPC can offer, the credibility and sheer volume of visits SEO provides, you cannot afford to miss any element of both method, can you?

The best online marketing campaigns never take a "one or the other" approach. You can't rely on one source of traffic to build your presence. Both PPC and SEO have their places and use.

Great article. You answered some questions that I have had in the back of my mind for quite some time. I agree that PPC is what you should utilize first if you have the time and can afford it.

Thanks again and I'll be back to check for some more info soon!

You are totally correct!

PPC is a must for any business starting to advertise online. However it can become very costly and in most sectors does not drive as much traffic.
So SEO is required to enable you to cut down on the PPC until you can stop it all together and enjoy the vast amount of free traffic out there!

My personal opinion is that SEO start first as part of website development stage. Of course this is ideal, if website is already developed, PPC and SEO have to start at the same time, but honestly organic traffic always bring better results and conversion in longer run.

SEO needs to be integrated into your website from the start, or actually just before, with keyword research then on-page and content writing. PPC can definitely produce "instant results", but SEO builds for the mid to end game success and huge profit numbers.

SEO builds for the future and you'll be getting all that organic traffic for free!! Much better than spending thousands on high bid costs and competitive marketplaces. I prefer SEO, but it does take time and you won't be seeing major benefits until 6months or more.

I say PPC should be a segment of your search engine marketing, but don't drown yourself in it. Research intelligently, locate your optimal keywords and bid conservatively until you understand the market and competition.

I always advice my clients to use PPC early (as a Market Research tool) and at the same start with the SEO campaign. With the PPC campaigns we will see which keywords perform better and we will focus our SEO on those keywords.

Definitely using PPC and SEO at the same time is a good idea, both for ROI analysis and for actual results.


Alex Kei.

I use Adwords and existing Google Analytics data to research good lucrative keywords and then create a dedicated SEO campaign. Then refinement can be done throughout. Best to yuse both SEO and Adwords in my opinion.

PPC can give you immediately returns but can cost alot if you dont know what you are doing.
Always set a daily budget.

SEO is a just like a seed you need to plan and plant.
You will see result in months if you are doing the right thing.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Q&A: With Online Marketing, Should I Start with SEO or PPC?