Think about this question really quick. Would you rather pay for traffic, or have it come in free? That’s a no brainier! Of course you’d rather pay for traffic! Just kidding! I kill myself with these jokes. But seriously, when it comes to the SEO vs. PPC debate, there’s only one option that can boast free traffic, and that’s SEO.
Now of course there’s no such thing as something being 100% free, but what I’m trying to say is that the rewards of SEO can go far beyond the cost. For traffic to be generated via PPC, there must be a budget for it to come from. Once the budget is depleted, so is the traffic. This is not the case for SEO. It is highly possible for you to invest in an SEO campaign and have the traffic results last months, even years, if your competitors don’t act.
Now obviously it’s always best to run a perpetual SEO campaign, but the best way to think about this, is by using the analogy of buying vs. renting a house.
Sure you could rent a house and move in right away, but if you stop paying rent, your landlord is not going to be too happy, and my guess is you won’t be living there much longer. This is like PPC, if you stop paying for ads, your traffic stops with them.
Now think about if you were to buy a house. Maybe you can’t afford to buy right away because you need a down payment (think of this as your initial SEO start-up phase). But once you have that down payment saved up you can start using that rent money for mortgage money. Every payment you make to your mortgage goes right back into your pocket (minus interest), and once you have the house paid off, you can still keep living in it for free. This is like SEO, where every penny you spend on SEO goes right back into your own pocket.
If you invested $500/month for the next 2 years on SEO, and then just stopped, my guess is that your traffic would still keep coming in. Sure it would slowly die down, but at some point it would level out, and you would continue to receive FREE traffic. But that’s not what’s important. What is important is that the renter (the PPC user), still has to keep paying rent, while you get to use that money to build up your house (your traffic) even more.
While PPC has a minimum Cost-Per-Click that can be achieved, thus putting a maximum amount on the traffic that can be generated for the budget, SEO is endless. If you keep investing the same amount into PPC each month, you will most likely get the same amount of traffic each month. While if you were to invest the same amount into SEO each month, your traffic would continue to rise each month, as once you are ranked #1 for your top 5 keywords, you can move onto the next 5 keywords, and so on.
So there you have it. Simply put, PPC is generally better for short-term, while SEO is better for long-term. You can gain instant access to potential customers without having to invest much time or waiting for results of a marketing campaign to unfold when you use PPC, however it is highly dependent on your budget. If you plan on having the same business for a long period of time, and want to your marketing investment to multiply, then SEO is your best bet, as the results will continue to stack over time.