Why PPC Complements SEO

I am often asked the question “I’m on the 1st page organically for my most important term. Can’t I turn off my Paid Search Marketing now?” The answer is undoubtedly “No . . . let me explain why.” Which is followed by most of what is below, give or take a few points depending on the client’s goals.

It’s important for any company to rank well in the organic listings. Organic listings are highly trusted by consumers and get more traffic than paid results when they are listed on the same page. They are coveted pieces of real estate in the search results because they are, after all, “free” customers and there is nothing a business owner likes to hear more than the word free. However, before you decide to pour your life savings into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) alone, let’s look at a few reasons that Paid Search / Pay-per-click (PPC) has a place in every marketing mix.


SEO can take weeks to set up and months to accomplish high rankings for your relevant search terms. In some cases you’ll have competition so steep for a phrase or keyword that you have no chance of ever getting above them organically with your budget or amount of content on your site. With PPC you have the ability to implement a campaign and start getting traffic as soon as just a few minutes after your company’s account is activated. Something is going to need to fill in the gap between when you start working on your SEO and when it actually starts working and bringing in traffic.

In addition to balancing your long term and short term goals, PPC has a fast reaction time. Need to create urgency to clear inventory? You can put dates of your sale or event right into your ad copy and get people on the site quickly. Was there a PR crisis you need to respond to quickly? You can create campaigns around events in a short time and write the ad copy to compel your potential customer to click through to your site instead of a less than favorable news headline.


PPC gives you a very high level of control over who is being invited to view your site, as well as what their first impression of your company is. You can avoid customers you don’t think are worth paying for by simply leaving out terms they would be likely to search for, or going as far as to add negative keywords to your account to ensure no one ends up on your site that isn’t likely to end up in a lead or sale for you.

Your ad message is completely under your control. Instead of seeing a small excerpt of you site your potential customers see a headline, message and URL that are fully customizable in the language you know makes sense to them. If you’ve used Persona Development to find out who your customers are you have an extra chance to speak to them the way that makes the most sense.

Conversion Rates

Organic search results will always be more credible in the eyes of the consumer; they trust their search engines to provide them the best results. Who can fault them for that? Unfortunately being more credible doesn’t mean you’re attracting people more likely to convert.

PPC has a lower click through rate when it shares a page with an organic listing for the same company; however it has a higher conversion rate. People who click on the paid ads are more often further along in the buying cycle and have gotten a lot of their purchase research out of the way already. When paired with SEO, PPC will provide you less traffic, but more of those visitors will complete the purchase with your company. It just seems silly to potentially turn that traffic away to a competitor who is utilizing PPC.


The number of pages on your website essentially dictates how many search phrases you can target through SEO. You don’t want to cannibalize your own authority with the search engine by targeting the same thing in to many places, and you don’t want to lower your chance of getting any credibility by attempting too many keywords per page.

With PPC your ability to be seen for search results is only limited by your imagination, and of course your budget. You can list thousands of keywords for a site that may only be able to target less than 100 using SEO. This widens your audience exponentially and helps fill the gaps your SEO efforts are unable to cover.

Not only will you be getting more exposure to searchers looking for your products, but your brand will be getting more exposure in general. As in traditional media, a user needs 5-7 exposures to your brand name or product for them to remember it and for advertising to no longer have an effect on their purchase decision. If they only do a few searches, you have the chance to get two of those exposures per search when you are utilizing both PPC and SEO.


Paid Search allows you very specific targeting. SEO can target local customers by using geographical modifiers and attempting to rank for the terms as a whole. PPC allows you to use that tactic, combined with geo targeting so specific you can target just a 1 miles radius of your location or the whole world. You can choose times of day to bid more or less, change the language, or even set demographic requirements for your searches. That’s a level of targeting that SEO can’t compete with.

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