Archive for March 9th, 2011


Why Buy the Cow if the Milk Is Free?

Every SEO professional has had or will have this conversation with a client:

SEO: You really do need to work on some site optimization if you want to improve your organic Google traffic.

CLIENT: But I’m spending $xxx a month on AdWords and it’s doing great.

SEO: Good for you! But did you know that as many as 60% of Google users never click on the ads? Only on the natural listings?

CLIENT: Maybe, but with AdWords I can make my ad appear on the top of the page if I want to.

SEO: That’s nice, and AdWords can be part of a great marketing strategy. And if you do a good job with SEO, you can get more traffic, only without a cost-per-click.

CLIENT: But with AdWords I can directly measure my ROI! With SEO, I’ll never know just how much those visits cost!

SEO: Meh. Look, you can spend $xxx a month for a $x return with AdWords, and that’s a pretty sweet return. OR, you can pay a quality SEO professional $xxxx once and get a targeted traffic boost that lasts for years.

CLIENT: So, if I pay you $xxxx to SEO my site, I can turn off the AdWords?

SEO: Not so fast, buckaroo. First, the SEO will take up to six months to start seeing benefits. Second, the AdWords traffic and the organic traffic are not mutually exclusive. They compliment each other.

Let’s say you have an AdWords campaign that’s pulling 75 visits a day for your favorite keyword.Your SEO kicks in and that keyword starts showing at high position in the organic listings, so you turn off the AdWords. The organic listing starts pulling 350 visits a day. Sweet! But when you experiment and turn the AdWords back on, you see something strange.

You’re ad is at the top of the results and now gets 50 visits a day, and your organic listing now gets 300 visits a day. That’s a wash, right? Still a total of 350 a day. Except that now, you only pay Google for 50 clicks. The combination strategy means you still get all the visits, but with a better ROI.

CLIENT: My head hurts.

For some reason, this is often a hard notion to get across. So here’s what I usually say:

SEO: How about this. Leave the AdWords on while we SEO your site. When your organic traffic starts rocking, try cutting back the AdWords bids a little at a time and see what happens with your overall sales. If you don’t see a drop, cut it back a little more. Keep doing that until you’ve hit the sweet spot and your Pay-per-click and organic listings are working together in perfect harmony and bliss.