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SEO Raises Awareness and Reputation Better than PPC

October 5th, 2010
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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.