Lee Odden

The Lame PPC and SEO Debate

In yesterday’s interview with Andy Beal, I made reference to comments in a DM News article that cited SEO as on the way out and that SEO is “simple”, positioning PPC as “better” etc. Andy’s response, which I think was not entirely without a sense of humor, invited an interesting response from Richard Ball.

You don’t have to look far to find commentary about PPC vs SEO, some good humor and lively debate.

In a recent article on ClickZ, “Think Organic, Act Paid” Kevin Lee, whom I know and respect as a marketer, talks about how he thinks PPC results will eventually become more relevant than organic results. (Good luck with that) He also makes this interesting comment, “SEO spammers don’t care if they manage to get a high position for keywords and keywords phrases that are less than perfectly relevant…”. I was actually surprised to see the only reference made about SEOs was in combination with the word “spammer”. His position is pretty clear.

I agree with Richard Ball that the genisis of this thread of commentary is an effort to gain attention for the purpose of self promotion than one that offers any real insight. It doesn’t really serve client interests to bash one tactic over another when both are powerful marketing tools. And like any other tool, there is a right time and place for them. I’ve always believed that a tool is only as good as the expertise of its user.

Consumer confidence in search results sways heavily towards organic, yet there is a huge disparity in search marketing budget allocations with the bias towards PPC. Many corporate marketers are waking up to this and finding more dollars for SEO. At some level, it’s logical that Dave and Kevin would take a negative stance towards SEO because it competes for client marketing budgets with their PPC-centric business.

Is it really worth spending a ton of time debating that SEO is not rocket science and that PPC is simple? I think not because these are not accurate characterizations. SEO and PPC initiatives can be as simple or as difficult as the situation warrants. It’s different nearly every time.

While getting PPC and SEO to work together can be challenging, the results of a cooperative strategy can far exceed of any tactic on its own.

As some online marketers are taking sides, others will continue to perfect their ability to use the right mix of tactics (PPC, SEO, Social Media, Viral, PR, Advertising) to do a better job at getting clients results. Watching this meme evolve is good for a laugh though, all the way to the bank.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he’s the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he’s likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.