Every client seems to ask the same question: should I invest in a pay-per-click campaign or focus on optimizing my website(s) to get found by search engines (more precise: get top rankings for desirable kewyords).
The answer (as always): It depends! – I know, I know that’s a lawyer answer. Sorry! But it really does. And a correct answer can only be given after a thourogh analysis of the specific case. As a tendency though the result will be that any optimization for organic results will not be fruitful due to pre-existing pages whose seniority will be a tough nut to overcome.
At the end of the day though any site should at least do the minimum for organic ranking, that is align title tags, file names (URLs), ALT tags etc. Every web developer that did not come out of school yesterday should know these anyway.
Getting back to basics: you always (always!) start with your keyword research before you even look at any PPC pricing. Do not (never!) relay on the data Google will present- remember: they SELL this keywords. Often times you will be better off buying from the secondary markets anyway. It will be a long time before Google will act on its promises to stop arbitrage, since the make more money tolerating the practise.
Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search results page from top to bottom and left to right (for left to right languages), looking for a relevant result. Placement at or near the top of the rankings therefore increases the number of searchers who will visit a site. However, more search engine referrals does not guarantee more sales. SEO is not necessarily an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be much more effective, depending on the site operator’s goals. A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic traffic to web pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their successes, and improving a site’s conversion rate.
If you manage a website with any kind of history, analyze the existing traffic and implement (organic) measure to enhance the results (i.e. does the landing page have a clear call to action) and measure conversion rates.
Have a PPC Strategy! If you chose a PPC model that employs a bidding procedure (i.e. Google AdWords) use an automated bid management system. These systems can used directly by the advertiser, though they are more commonly used by advertising agencies that offer PPC bid management as a service. These tools generally allow for bid management at scale, with thousands or even millions of PPC bids controlled by a highly automated system. The system generally sets each bid based on the goal that has been set for it, such as maximize profit, maximize traffic at breakeven, and so forth. The system is usually tied into the advertiser’s website and fed the results of each click, which then allows it to set bids. The effectiveness of these systems is directly related to the quality and quantity of the performance data that it has to work with – low-traffic ads can lead to a scarcity of data problem that renders many bid management tools useless at worst, or inefficient at best.