Online marketing map and termsPPC has become a major player in online advertising. It gives online businesses more visibility, drives traffic and increases conversions.

But is it more sustainable than organic search?

It’s no secret that search engines like Google et al make huge profits from paid ads. To give you some idea, Google is hitting around $10bn a quarter on AdWord spend.

Search engines will always try and drive companies down the path of paid advertising, but this method of online marketing is not sustainable for every company.

For small businesses in competitive fields for example, it becomes expensive, with some clicks costing in excess of £100 each. You don’t necessarily get more visitors if you pay more, and when you stop your paid ads campaign, the amount of traffic you receive suffers.

The advantages of paid advertising

For start-ups and other online businesses that have low visibility online, paid ads does offer a solution to increase your earnings.

By bidding on targeted keywords and purchasing advertising space, you will be guaranteed visibility on the first page. Furthermore, you are only charged when somebody clicks on your ad.

You can therefore be assured of lead generation. Your advertising budget is not being totally wasted. What does matter however, is that your landing page and sales pages do a good job of converting browsers into buyers.  Reach without action and conversion is expensive and if the user experience on visiting your site for the first time is not as good as your ad led them to believe, you’ll have a hard job of luring them back again.

So what about organic search?

The growth of paid advertising has led to doomsayers in the digital marketing community to announce SEO is dead.

But SEO is far from a thing of the past and is arguably going from strength to strength. As search engines improve their algorithms, websites producing top quality content and high value UX will be rewarded with better page rankings over time.

The downside to SEO is that achieving results is a slow process. It takes time for webmasters to build up trust and authority with search engines. Firms also have to be consistently producing useful, high-quality content that offers value to readers.

Organic search results may take time, but they do offer long-term benefits. Once you hit the upper echelons of search results, click through rates improve dramatically and profits could potentially soar.

But SEO is a game of patience and consistency.  In the meantime you have to find alternative ways of promoting your products and services online. PPC is a good place to start. For many firms, it’s the only place to start.

Social media networks will give you exposure to followers, but followers are not necessarily buyers. Search engines on the other hand drive customers to your website that have an intention to buy.

For firms with low visibility, the solution to modern online marketing is to venture into PPC and gradually build up SEO results by creating and becoming know to search engines as a site with relevant authority on a vertical / niche. Once you start attracting traffic through organic sources, you can lower your marketing budget over time (if you wish to (you may be receiving a positive ROI already via PPC)), whilst increasing conversions.