Having a high ranking in web search results can be huge for a company. As we stated in a previous entry, the first link showed for a Google search has an 18.2% click-through rate. If your website is appealing enough, being high-ranked in search engine results will boost your reputation and your online sales. There are two different ways to be highly ranked in search engine results: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). SEO is a free way to improve a site’s rankings via the content on your website (read our blog post named “Trust your SEO company” for more on SEO). PPC consists of being one of the sponsored links on a search engine for a given keyword by paying the search engine (for Google, via Google Adwords) each time someone clicks on your link via the search engine. Each method offers your website the benefit of ranking high in search engine searches. We’ll try here to breakdown the differences between those two methods and which one to choose.

On paper it seems a great idea to be a sponsored link, since they are often located higher than natural links. However, according to a recent study, 85% of search engine users don’t click on sponsored links. Indeed, sponsored results usually are not as relevant to searches as natural ones, which is why we usually don’t even bother looking at sponsored links. Moreover, search engine users usually have the false idea that sponsored links will bring them to a paying service, so they tend to distrust sponsored links. Although sponsored links offer you much more visibility than being on the fourth page of results for a certain keyword, but being atop natural rankings seems more attractive.  But of course, it’s not as easy.

 

You can set up sponsored links in a few hours; you just need to: create your Google Adwords account (or your Yahoo! Search Marketing account for Yahoo); place your bid for a certain keyword (if someone places a higher bid for the same keyword, your link won’t appear); and choose what link and description should appear. On the other hand, a SEO campaign usually requires months to reach full effectiveness. If you want immediate results, PPC may be better for you.

 

Although SEO is thought of as free, a great SEO campaign usually requires the work of a professional who understands and knows how to manipulate search engines’ algorithms. Hiring a good SEO company can cost thousands of dollars. The long-term value is better in SEO but the short-term returns are higher on PPC.