SEO vs. PPC – Battle of the Affiliate Marketing Acronyms

February 22, 2009 Posted by killerincome
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The following is a guest post by Bill from KillerIncome.net.

There are many different traffic generation strategies that affiliate marketers use from social networking to forum posting, but the two most popular are pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). While there are certainly die-hard PPC advocates and internet marketers who use only SEO techniques, each method has its merits, as well as its drawbacks.

While many affiliate marketers excel at one method or the other, there is no reason that affiliate marketers can not draw from the unique advantages that each method provides and use techniques from one method to complement the other. By effectively utilizing pay-per-click for its unique advantages and search engine optimization for its advantages, as well, it is possible to create an affiliate marketing one-two punch that can really boost website traffic and, ultimately, commissions.

SEO vs PPC

In this corner, we have PPC…

Some of the advantages of generating traffic using PPC are that pay-per-click campaigns can drive immediate traffic to a website’s affiliate product pages. Immediate traffic can provide some valuable feedback that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the landing pages or ‘squeeze’ pages to which this traffic was directed. By keeping an eye on conversions (i.e. how many visitors turn into customers), it is possible to optimize these pages to more effectively presell these visitors and, in turn, convert more of them to paying customers. PPC campaigns can also provide insights into how effective a particular search phrase is at driving the type of traffic that will be receptive to affiliate offers. The immediate feedback that a pay-per-click campaign provides can be consistently evaluated to determine the optimum combination of key phrase and landing page that generates sufficient conversions to offset the cost of the PPC campaign.

One of the drawbacks to PPC affiliate marketing is that dreaded word mentioned in the last paragraph: cost. There is an up-front cost associated with every pay-per-click campaign and every key phrase on which an internet marketer bids. With PPC, it is necessary to invest money up front in the hopes that each effective campaign will generate more money in affiliate commissions than it cost to run the campaign. Another not-so-obvious drawback to using PPC as a primary traffic generation technique is the fact that it appears so easy and yet there is a quite a steep (and potentially expensive) learning curve associated with using pay-per-click marketing, profitably. Finally, there is a lot of testing and maintenance that must be done to keep on top of PPC campaigns to ensure that they remain profitable, including keyword research and refinement, as well as calculating return-on-investment (ROI) for each campaign and every keyword. Many beginning affiliate marketers, lured by this seemingly simple technique, fail at PPC because of the up-front costs, steep learning curve, and testing and maintenance required to successfully manage profitable campaigns.

And in this corner, we have SEO…

Search engine optimization, on the other hand, has minimal up-front costs associated with it when compared to PPC. These costs are pretty well confined to domain registration and website hosting fees, both of which are usually insignificant. While there is also a learning curve associated with SEO in terms of understanding search engine algorithms, optimum keyword density, and proper use of META tags, the main drawback to making SEO a primary traffic generation strategy is that there is a large time-factor associated with this approach.

First off, there is the time between when content is produced and when it is indexed by the search engines. Secondly, there is the Google sandbox effect, which can further increase the time between when content is indexed and when it begins to rank for its targeted keywords. Finally, there is the enormous amount of off-page work that must be done in terms of gaining backlinks in order to have content pages rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Another advantage of SEO is that it has more of a lasting effect in that once a website begins to rank well and has overcome any sandboxing effects; this site and its content can continue to drive traffic for years. PPC, on the other hand, stops driving traffic once the money runs out, which can be sooner rather than later, if campaigns are not managed properly.

The Verdict

So, while there are advantages and drawbacks to both SEO and PPC techniques, they are not mutually exclusive. The immediate feedback provided by pay-per-click can tell an internet marketer a lot about the effectiveness of their landing pages and chosen keyphrases, while search engine optimization can be used as a low cost way to continue driving website traffic for the long-term. By using PPC to determine profitable keyphrases and to measure the effectiveness of landing pages and then targeting these phrases by using traditional search engine optimization techniques to continue to drive organic search engine traffic to these most profitable pages, affiliate marketers can have the best of both worlds.

Utilizing the advantages of, both, SEO and PPC can provide a good one-two punch to drive more targeted traffic to affiliate landing pages and boost affiliate commissions. Instead of shunning one method or the other, make an effort to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and utilize the advantages of one technique to complement the other.  SEO and PPC do not have to remain opponents of one another forever!

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Posted: February 22nd, 2009 under Guest Posts  

23 Responses to “SEO vs. PPC – Battle of the Affiliate Marketing Acronyms”

  1. Leo Dimilo says:

    Way to wussy out and not declare a champion, man….just kidding…I think that it really depends on what you are trying to reach here. Personally, I use PPC to determine keywords and then optimize for SEO because I am a cheapskate…

    then again, that is just me…

  2. Andrew says:

    Hey, great article… look forward to some more articles on ppc and seo.

  3. Splendid Kid says:

    I haven’t tried yet PPC. I am more on SEO. But I do agree with you if you combined PPC and SEO it should be so powerful.

  4. If you’re doing SEO and you see sales coming in for an offer you have, PPC the hell out of it.

    1. You know it’s converting.
    2. You also have a small budget from the sales you made.

    The problem is that there’s indeed a steep and sometimes expensive learning curve.

    There are ways to smooth it out though ;)

    Cheers,
    Alex

  5. Thanks to all for the comments and to Tyler for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post here.

    Alex->Great comment – you kind of took what I said and looked at it from a different angle. Instead of ‘SEO-ing the hell out of a profitable PPC campaign’ like I suggested, your idea of ‘PPC-ing the hell out of a profitable SEO campaign’ is a great idea, as well. The ‘steep and expensive learning curve’ is definitely something any beginner to affiliate marketing should watch out for.

    Oh, and as for being a ‘wuss’ and not declaring a champion – that’s for the individual to decide. My post idea was just to take the best of each technique and capitalize on it.

    Please keep the commenst coming – good, bad or otherwise :)

    • A way to avoid the learning curve if you build a site for seo that’s converting is to monitor the keywords phrases that your site is getting traffic from.

      I have a dating blog for dating offers that is ranked number 1 in google (above the offer itself). When I looked at my awstats I seen what keyword phrases I was getting traffic on. Built a campaign around those phrases. And the results I got were amazing until the offer shut of for the holidays. I was getting 171% ROI right out of the gate with a CTR if 24% in my adwords account.

      Also – SEO may seem complicated and to get ranked for certain phrases is darn near impossible but there is a way to get a site profitable with in the first two weeks so your making money with it right away,then you can do the keyword thing I said above, boost your income via PPC because you all ready know what is converting and work on your SEO for the long haul.

  6. Personally, I think Tyler is right, it is a draw. Both SEO and PPC are Search Engine Marketing techniques and feed off of each other. If your SEO is bad PPC will be more expensive. If your PPC is bad you will drive expensive less qualified traffic. It all works together, more like a fixed wrestling match than a boxing match.

  7. I try to use both techniques myself, but find I always end up going for SEO over PPC. SEO like you said is a cheaper alternative and can generate a nice amount of traffic to your website. Plus – I like the challenge of ranking for a competitive keyword on Google’s top 10 :).

  8. Oops, Sorry Bill. Thanks Tyler.

    By the way, If you are good with SEO and structure and setting up targeted pages then you can use the same theories in setting up PPC. This will give you the PPC traffic as well as great keyword data for use with SEO. I find that in this way PPC is the least expensive market research I can do to really find out what the niche is searching for. I have also found Google’s new Quality Scores for landing pages, keywords, and ads to be very useful in analyzing the sites SEO. I think they go hand in hand, even if your monthly PPC budget is less than $300 there is great information about your SEO to be found through PPC data.

  9. I like to start with the SEO route to see if money can be made in a particular niche as the start up costs are small. If I find that there is money to be made, I might supplement my SEO efforts with some PPC.

  10. Paul Morales says:

    SEO and PPC can both be great. If you have a great SEO campaign, it’s a good idea to pop it into PPC. It’s sometimes better to start a PPC campaign to find the SEO keywords to target. I’m focusing on SEO since it’s much cheaper.

  11. Oddly enough, I just chatted with someone to help them set up a short PPC campaign to gauge interest and the market. It’s such a strange concept. But compared to other Market research methods the stats are better and the cost is probably less. I’ll update this comment stream as to how this goes, it should be interesting. Because, yeah, I would usually start with SEO too…

  12. That is a great Battle which is very useful for Internet Marketing field, I try to use both techniques myself, but find I always end up going for SEO over PPC. SEO like you said is a cheaper alternative and can generate a nice amount of traffic to your website.
    Thanks

  13. It is harder to be successful on PPC. At least, I have difficulties getting nice profits, but SEO… That’s the paradise in earth for unique high quality content writers :)

  14. I agree, don’t worry about which is better just do BOTH if you want to survive in your niche ;) Though I think PPC could become more important in the future.

  15. Joey Logano says:

    If you’ve got the funds, then I would say sure try the PPC route, but in the long run, seo really does pay off, because you have to remember PPC is always a gamble.

  16. Glenn says:

    if you dont have the funds pcc isnt for you but if you do go with it

  17. Great Comparison Tyler! But I think SEO is better than PPC. Aside from the lesser fees associated with it, SEO generates “natural traffic” to sites.

    When it comes to adsense, I believe that PPC campaign is against the TOS since it was not a natural traffic.

  18. gurtey says:

    well, great point, when SEO and PPC are combined ,it been rocking, but SEO is far more powerful than PPC, as far as me.

  19. I like to start with the SEO route to see if money can be made in a particular niche as the start up costs are small.!!

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