Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on September 3rd, 2010

SEO vs. Search Engine Advertising - Which Service Is Right For Me?

children's robot game

When you are ready to launch a search marketing campaign, there are two distinct, results-driven channels to consider: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

Both marketing channels have their own unique competitive advantages. However, depending upon your online goals, it is recommended that you understand the differences between the two channels before committing to a campaign. Some companies prefer one channel over the other, while others like to have a balance between the two offerings. Read on to learn about the differences between SEO and Search Engine Advertising.


organic vegetable

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website in order to rank well in organic search engine results. But the process for prominent search rankings doesn’t happen overnight. A typical SEO campaign takes anywhere from six months to one full year to deliver significant results.

Here at Volacci, your Internet Marketing Coordinator (IMC) implements long-term strategies in link building, on-page optimization, and extensive analytics and testing in order to achieve the goal of SEO: to deliver long-term ranking results at a very low price-per-visitor.

SEO is like eating a home-cooked meal instead of going out for fast food. It may take much longer to prepare, but once you sit down to eat it, it is tastes so much better because you cooked it yourself! An SEO campaign is very similar: it takes much longer to “cook up” rankings, but it tastes so sweet when you start getting conversions from organic search.

If you want to build prominent, long-term rankings in organic search results, SEO is what will satisfy your hunger.


fast food image

Search Engine Advertising, also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is the method of paying to have your ad listed in the right-hand column in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other websites. With PPC, you pay for every single click that comes to your site from the ad. How much traffic you want is directly related to how much money is in your budget.

Search Engine Advertising is much like going to get fast food. You are hungry for something delicious immediately, i.e. sales. PPC is like the drive-thru window or mall food court where you can walk up and have a mouth-watering hamburger or slice of pizza within minutes.

If you want results yesterday, Search Engine Advertising is the channel for you. But the moment you stop paying, the online interstate to your website gets shut down.

The Tortoise and the Hare

tortoise and hare: slow and steady or fast and exhausted?

If that doesn’t help, think about it this way: SEO is the tortoise and PPC is the hare. With SEO, your results are slow but steady, and you will come out a winner in the end. With PPC, you can jump into the lead immediately, but the minute you stop paying, you will fall asleep under a tree and lose the race.

Why Not Both?

messy baby eating cake

In short, companies that need sales yesterday are a better fit for Search Engine Advertising. It is a great way to test out keywords and your product’s marketability. SEO is ideal for businesses that can afford to invest in a long-term campaign. Many clients use both channels at the same time, investing half their budget in SEO and half in PPC. If you are interested in an SEO or PPC campaign, or both, contact us to begin your search marketing success.