Adam T. Sutton

SEO Raises Awareness and Reputation Better than PPC

October 5th, 2010

Pay-per-click advertising in search engines is a veritable money machine for some companies. They put money in, turn some wrenches, and money comes out the other end.

However, PPC is not a miracle worker. Turning those wrenches can take a lot of work. And there are several marketing goals PPC achieves less effectively than SEO.

Comparing data from MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Reports: SEO and PPC Editions, more marketers reported SEO as “very effective” at achieving the following objectives:

o Increasing brand or product awareness: SEO: 42%; PPC: 34%

o Improving brand or product reputation: SEO: 29%; PPC: 19%

o Improving public relations: SEO: 27%; PPC: 6%

Clearly, more marketers believe SEO is more effective than PPC at changing people’s opinions about their products and brands. However, when it comes to conversion-related objectives such as increasing lead generation and online sales revenue, more marketers report PPC as “very effective” than SEO.

The data lead me to believe that people searching to learn more about a company or industry are more interested in natural search results than paid results. Ads take on a larger role as searchers make purchase decisions or consider other conversions (such as reaching out for more information).

If your team is hoping to lift brand awareness and reputation, you’re better off working to improve your natural search performance than increasing your PPC budget. PPC is not necessarily ineffective, but it’s likely to have a smaller return than time invested elsewhere.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Marketing Tags: , , , , , ,

  1. October 5th, 2010 at 20:29 | #1

    SEO is more effective than PPC in general, but PPC can be seen as just one tactic under a larger SEO strategy. It’s only ineffective when the only online marketing strategy is reliant on PPC.

  2. October 5th, 2010 at 21:28 | #2

    Very true and I am not surprised by this. SEO is free and it can get you to better places. I would suggest PPC only when you really new and want to make an impression. Even then SEO is mandatory. So always have seo on mind. Nice post, thanks for the insights.

  3. October 6th, 2010 at 08:45 | #3

    I think there is also the perceptioin among people searching on-line that paid ads are somehow ‘cheating ‘ the system and are therefore less credible than organic search.

    Good post!


  4. October 6th, 2010 at 09:39 | #4

    Hi everyone — thank you for your comments. They are appreciated.

    I think it’s clear that SEO is a much more effective way to build credibility and reputation than PPC.

  5. October 11th, 2010 at 11:32 | #5

    Very interesting article. It cut be interesting to see the different between B2C and B2B. I think B2B SEO are even more trustful if you have a high ranking


  6. October 11th, 2010 at 13:54 | #6

    I agree with you. Anyone can drive traffic with PPC if they have the budget. But SEO requires that your content is at least relevant, so it builds credibility and brand awareness, which, according to your results, consumers like.

  7. October 11th, 2010 at 13:55 | #7

    Thanks for the article. I like what you wrote and feel you’re right on.

    However, I also feel PPC is a really good SEO tool. A tool in the sense that you can gain valuable data on what people are searching for and what they are clicking on to come over to your website. This data can dramatically improve your site and help your SEO efforts.

  8. October 11th, 2010 at 16:17 | #8

    SEO = PR, SEM/PPC = advertising. Both are very effective in their own way, but the more we as marketers are able to educate companies about their opportunities, and the different uses of search, the better off everyone will be. Agencies will run more effective campaigns (for one objective or another) and clients will benefit.

  9. Joni
    October 12th, 2010 at 10:36 | #9

    Hi there, I do not fully agree here. Yes SEO is effective, if you look it on the long-run. However, PPC is a great tool for short-term visibility and also recognition, lead generation.

    In the world of Google Adwords 2010/11 where the 1st 3 results are prominent displayed ie including sitelinks of promotions and local-based maps and even phone #´s, PPC is getting more and more SEO-like. I believe the combo of both is the key here, not whether SEO or PPC will win, espcially with Google instant and what is to come in the future your SEO and PPC need a professional and long-term strategy alike.

  10. October 27th, 2010 at 23:45 | #10

    Nice topic! I completely agree SEO is more relevant to get the right audience to your site, anyone can drive traffic with PPC.

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.