I don’t know why this has been a more common conversation of late, but it has.
I would counsel that a PPC campaign (usually Google AdWords initially) should be the starting point for any good SEO/organic listing campaign. Here’s why:
1. PPC is instant.
If you want traffic to coincide with the launch of a site or you simply need to demonstrate an immediate improvement in your bottom line, then PPC is the answer. SEO, at best, takes a few weeks but for new sites it can take in excess of 18 months.
2. PPC is cheap
OK, so you have to pay but the cost of trying it out is minimal when compared to the time, money and effort required to execute an equivalent SEO campaign. Done right, the rapid payback you can achieve with PPC, will generate the funds to invest in SEO.
3. PPC is better than any other keyword research
SEO campaigns need to target specific keywords. When investing that time, money and effort you need to be sure you target the right keywords. Failure to do so will mean good rankings but no relevant traffic.
Without doing PPC, you have to base your efforts on keyword tools, all of which have significant limitations.
PPC allows you to accurately determine which phrases result in traffic and more importantly business. That is business for you, not an industry average.
4. PPC acts as a “fitness test”
Probably the most compelling reason of the lot.
To compete in PPC, you need to have a sound offering. That is everything from compelling advert, via persuasive website, all the way through to the product or service itself.
So many times I have seen companies eventually achieve rankings in natural listings, only to gain no business from it. If they had run a PPC campaign first, they wouldn’t be surprised.
Perhaps worse are those companies who get some business from their natural rankings and think the job is done. What they don’t realise is that they could be getting so much more from those rankings.
A company working the PPC space will know how they stack up against the competition (if you can make money in top positions, you are by definition competing effectively).
They are forced to go through the process of looking at how they can make the most of every visitor. So when they achieve natural listings, they will know they are making the most of each “free” visitor given to them.
Meanwhile their SEO-only competitors will be blissfully unaware of the market share escaping their grasp. Amusingly, they’ll even call this state of innocence “optimisation”.
PPC represents a quick and affordable way to test out your proposition. Armed with the data gained from your campaign, you can then progress to other forms of online marketing, including working on your natural listings, with confidence.