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Wondering whether you should pursue paid search campaigns, organic search campaigns or both for your business? Here is a high-level and detailed comparison of the 2 seo strategies:

Paid Search

How it Works: Paid search is also referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) or sponsored search advertising. Popular examples of PPC are Microsoft AdCenter (Bing) and Google AdWords. Facebook and LinkedIn sponsored ads are also gaining traction. In this type of search marketing campaign, companies pay to have their ad included on the search engine results pages for particular keywords. Every time someone clicks on the link in your ad, you must pay Google a predetermined rate, called the Cost Per Click (CPC). The position of your ad depends on several factors including the CPC you set and the quality score Google's algorithm assigns.

Pros: Using paid search guarantees placement of your ads on the first page of search page results for designated keywords.

Cons: Because the CPC increases for competitive keywords, paid search can be very very expensive. WARNING: If you don't pay attention and be VERY careful you could use a LOT of money very quickly. It's also easy to setup campaigns incorrectly if you are not familiar with the different PPC systems. For example Adwords and Adcenter have different ways of specifying networks on which your ads show. Depending on the keywords you want to appear and the competition you face, you may need a very large budget devoted to paid search in order for it to be effective in generating leads.

Organic Search

How it Works: Organic search engine optimization encompasses an extensive amount of marketing  and analytics. A high page quality score is given to sites that include the keyword or key phrase in specific places in the code, so google knows what you have to rank for. have a specific keyphrase density, have cross links from other internal pages pointing to it and has high quality external sites linking to the page (often called backlinks).

Pros: The best reason to use an organic search strategy is that it's free! You do not pay when people click on your search results. It's pretty steady, and if you keep going could turn into way more. Organic results also get much higher traffic volumes and are perceived as more trustworthy and of greater quality than PPC advertisements.

Cons: Attaining a first page ranking is a long and often difficult process. While PPC is an expensive sprint, organic marketing is a patience-testing marathon. While there is no direct financial cost, you must be willing to devote a lot of time to developing a successful organic SEO campaign. And yes, time is money.

If you hire an outsourcer to manage your serps, beware of black hat SEO quick tricks. Some marketing "professionals" will use these unethical tactics to get you ranked highly, but it is only a matter of time before Google will penalize your site delisting it entirely. Then it's very time consuming to regain your former rankings.


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Both strategies have strengths and weaknesses. Each can be used effectively to build a successful search engine optimization campaign. In fact, they work very well in conjunction with one another in the hands of experienced Internet Marketer. You must determine if paid/organic search, or a combination of the two is right for your business based on your budget, time allotment, and overall marketing goals.