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Recently, after working exclusively in our PPC department for close to two years, due to an unexpected leave of absence, I returned to the opportunity to work within our SEO department.

Even though the purpose of our departments are the same, trying to get clicks through the use of keywords – the methods we use to generate those clicks are completely unique.

As marketing consultants, we need to remember Google wants our PPC departments to “succeed”. To that end, the inner workings of AdWords are shared to an extent in order to encourage better performance; and let’s be honest, boost their bottom line by building confidence and encouraging more ads to be posted. It’s no secret Google is offering more advice than ever before on AdWords in order to increase clients’ spend, and to “help” them spend their budget more quickly by encouraging such features as “enhanced bidding” and “accelerated spend”. In addition,  making these options more difficult to turn off by hiding the controls inside the myriad of menus on the “new and improved AdWords”.

This type of cooperation I have learned is not available to my partners in SEO. Google does not want us to know how its organic search algorithm works and certainly does not want us to know how keywords are ranked below the ads on search results. This, I have learned, completely changes the dynamic and the way we work in each department.

Rather than the “What have you done for me lately?” and “Show me results…now!” attitude of many PPC clients, the expectations are adjusted to compensate for the scope of what SEO does and the length of time it takes to see discernible results.

In the two weeks I have been working with search engine optimization, there are more than a few differences between managing paid keywords and improving organic traffic that stand out.


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Cost vs. No Cost

100 dollar bills - the price of ppc is more than seo This goes without saying…there is a considerable difference between spending a client’s budget everyday on a collection of keywords and not paying to do work on the back end of your webpage in order to boost organic traffic.

There is also the question of which provides the most bang for the buck? Is it worth it to spend more on ads and have your content and link appear above everything else in search results; or is it a better investment to invest in organic search results, wanting to ensure your page and its content are relevant to the user after they have looked through the ads? I will try to answer this question at the end of this post.

Less Emphasis On Daily Performance

Performance chart, showing the progression of spending.With no money being spent on keywords daily, it is not necessary to look into the account   every day to make sure budget is being used properly. There is no mad scramble to pull back on spending if we have exceeded spend before the end of the month, or to add more budget if we haven’t spent enough either.

That’s not to say my new colleagues in SEO are not concerned about performance. It’s just due to the nature of how information is processed and the amount of time it takes for an action carried out by SEO to show any discernible difference to the client that the pace of priority is different than I was used to in PPC.

Keywords vs. Titles & Meta Tags

In essence, what I was trying to do in PPC was tell the end-user through the use of keywords was, “This is the page you are looking for”. Now in SEO through the use of Titles & Meta Tags I am trying to tell Google, “This is the page you want to show to the end-user”.

Ads vs. Website

In PPC, we were concerned with optimizing a few lines of text that needed to stand out and capture the end-user’s attention right away. We were very limited in what we could say and how we could say it, given the size limitations of the ads imposed by search engines.

In SEO, we have no such concerns as we are virtually unlimited with regard to how much space or content we use on any given page of content – provided it is relevant to our title and meta tags, and we have the proper density of those words within the webpage, between 2-3%.


men biking in a competition- ppc is also very competitive In Adwords, we are competing with other, similar organizations bidding on the same set of keywords, hoping to increase the likelihood someone will see a relevant ad and choose to click onto their website. The competition for certain high-value keywords in certain markets, i.e., “…lawyer” and “…doctor” can be fierce and can cause costs to skyrocket.

In SEO, we are not competing with others, we are competing with the search engines themselves. Rather than being an “arms race” with other organizations, SEO engages in a game of “cat and mouse” with Google and others. Rather than outbidding competitors, SEO tries to discover the “secret sauce” behind search engine results, often with the knowledge that once a “key” to improving SEO position is discovered and exploited by too many, the lock will be changed again, sending everyone back to square one.

The more time I spend working in the SEO department, the more obvious to me it is that the best practice really is to invest in both PPC and SEO management. This may sound self-serving, but let me explain why.By investing in PPC, you can be sure that your ads will have a decent chance of being the first thing seen by a user when they enter a search query. This is good! However, by taking the time and improving your SEO score, you are ensuring that your webpage will be treated favorably by the search engines and ultimately, become an “authority” in the matter presented on the page.

Additionally, another benefit of being treated favorably by the search engines is paying less for keywords in PPC. Once a website is regarded as an “authority,”  providing information to end-users in the format the search engine wishes to present it, domain owners are “rewarded” with having to pay less for keywords as compared to others bidding on them.

I appreciate the opportunity to be cross-trained in both PPC & SEO. It is my hope that moving forward, I will be able to offer a complete skillset and holistic, overhead view of my clients’ needs and provide better assistance and service to them.

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