As click costs rise, many companies who are already investing in active
pay per click marketing campaigns are looking toward hiring a search
engine optimization company to supplement their marketing portfolio in
order to increase their exposure and reduce their advertising spend. In
some cases, frustrated by click fraud and increasing click costs,
marketers are using search engine optimization to completely replace pay
per click marketing. However, these companies will often try to evaluate
search engine optimization using the same methodology that they had used
for pay per click - by figuring out the cost per click.

In almost every case, a campaign created by a reputable search engine
optimization company will eventually garner lower per-click costs than
pay per click marketing for any industry. Yet using cost per click to
compare the effectiveness of these two separate disciplines is comparing
apples to, well, anything other than apples. The crucial difference
between these two approaches is that pay per click marketing is more of
an advertising investment, while search engine optimization is more
appropriately likened to an investment in infrastructure. While both
have their merits in terms of increasing a company’s online exposure, it
is important to understand the differences in the respective investments
and to determine why cost per click is not a fair indicator of the
performance of a search engine optimization company.

Pay Per Click Marketing

Advertising investments of all kinds, from billboards to print ads to
television spots to pay per click marketing, all share a common trait.
They exist in the public eye for as long as a company is willing to pay
for them. Stop paying, and they disappear. True, a print ad may continue
to exist for a while after it runs (until the newspaper or magazine gets
recycled, at least), and a television spot may get attention if it wins
any awards (or winds up on YouTube). But a pay per click marketing
campaign will simply vanish as soon as the budget is cut. This means
that when a company reduces its advertising spend in this arena, it
loses all of its exposure immediately.

What does this really mean? Well, for one, it means that figuring out
the average per-click costs of a pay per click marketing campaign makes
sense because everything happens in real time. A pay per click campaign
will begin nearly instantly after a company signs up and pays, and it
will vanish just as quickly when the company ceases payment. In other
words, there is a clear delineation of when a campaign begins and when
it ends.

This delineation is important, because it excludes many other potential
factors that muddy the waters when you try to apply this same ROI
analysis to a campaign created by a search engine optimization company.

Search Engine Optimization

As said previously, utilizing a search engine optimization company can
be likened to making an investment in the infrastructure of a business
rather than an investment in advertising. This is because with search
engine optimization, there is no clear delineation of where the benefit
from the campaign ends. If a business stops paying its search engine
optimization company at any point after the campaign has been launched
(presuming they have hired a decent search engine optimization company),
there will continue to be results from that campaign for an extended
period of time - usually many months or even years.

Of course, it is not recommended that any business actually quit an
ongoing SEO campaign because a good search engine optimization company
will always be expanding and honing that campaign over time to make it
more successful over the long term. However, budgets get revisited and
revised. Decision makers can change. And if the budget for SEO does get
cut, a business will continue to see results for long after. How, then,
can you determine value on a per-click basis? The simple answer is that
you can’t.

It should be noted that while maintaining ongoing results after payments
have ceased is a big upside to search engine optimization, the inverse
downside is that an effective campaign put in place by a search engine
optimization company can take some time to implement, and the results
may not appear for weeks or months. A search engine optimization
campaign takes patience, effort, and, most of all, time. If a business
needs its marketing campaign to be up and running immediately, pay per
click marketing is going to be a better short-term choice.


It is important to recognize the innate differences in pay per click
campaigns and search engine optimization when trying to quantify
results. A pay per click marketing campaign can have a definitive
beginning and end, which makes cost per click a good way of determining
ROI. Yet the results gained from hiring a search engine optimization
company, although an SEO campaign can take much longer to implement,
will outlast the results from a pay per click campaign if a business
ever needs to cut spending. And this is where the notion of analyzing
the effectiveness of a search engine optimization campaign on a cost per
click basis breaks down

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