It’s a question as old as Goldladder: Should I invest in PPC or SEO? While the question often crops up, some of the reasons around it have changed over the years. However, our answer remains the same. And that answer is: “both”.

Once upon a time, things were pretty simple in Google’s SERP’s. Organic listings dominated the page, and the ads kept to their own on the right, and were viewed with suspicion by the users. However, our early clients at Goldladder came from the travel and finance sectors – some of the first people to feel the squeeze in the organic rankings. Given the choice between PPC or SEO, it seemed wise to do both, and in the early days we really learned the hard way how to make those ads get clicks. And we then learnt a lot more about why people clicked them.

Then one day the SERPs became ad-dominated. With 3 PPC ads straddling the organic results, users found the PPC results hard to ignore, or just got plain confused/didnt care if the advertiser had used PPC or SEO to get those top positions. From all this click activity, Google had a lightbulb moment (in the accounts department). And since then, the march to change peoples search habits so that they love PPC ads has continued at a furious pace. As a recent example, look at our comments on enhanced ad sitelinks.

Now, organic listings look like all but a footnote on some of Google’s SERPs. And when the search is a commercial exercise, quite right too. Who wants to be taken to out-of-date holiday pages when searching for last minute deals?

But SEO still has a huge part to play. And in an indirect way, Google have acknowledged this by commissioning a study on the relationship between Adwords and Organic results. While Google have presented this in a way to justify keeping your ads running even alongside good organic results, the actual study does reveal that the interplay on all elements on a SERP is complex, and no longer as black and white as the ‘PPC or SEO’ question. (btw, this video saves time for those  ‘too long; didn’t read’ people out there).

As an agency, perhaps we see the main advantage of a good combined PPC and SEO program as a way to fine tune PPC against the long tail, increasing conversions and saving money. Also, PPC is in many ways the ultimate SEO research tool – it uses live traffic and real people to show how well matched a keyword is (or is not!) to your business. This lights the way for your copy choices. Finally, the on-page philosophy for PPC and SEO is the same – targeted content based around the keyword. Good for the organic and the Adwords quality score algorithms.

So if you are thinking you need to choose between PPC or SEO, it might be best to think again. Contact us and find out how our combined programs work to save you money and increase performance.