PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle – SES San Francisco 2010 Day 3

Aug 20, 2010 | 1,493 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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The 1st session of Search Engine Strategies San Francisco 2010 Day 3 was on the topic “PPC or SEO.” The agenda of the session was on putting forward which is important search marketing tool PPC or SEO?


  • Mark Jackson (Vizion Interactive)


  • Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz)
  • Melanie Mitchell (Digitas)
  • Thomas Bindl (Refined Labs GmbH)
  • Benu Aggarwal (Milestone Internet Marketing)

The session begin with the first speaker Benu who was in favor of SEO and considered it as the most important and reliable search marketing tool. She continued saying that one cannot construct or build a strong house without a good foundation. Similarly, establishing any successful organization, SEO should be the foundation. This is where Benu sees the maximum return and the most unique visitors in the long haul.

Benu concluded saying that if you do your SEO right, you'll own Google in standard and universal results.

The next speaker in line of the session was Melanie who wants everyone to get along. Though she sides with PPC, she completely does not ignore the importance of SEO as well. She begins by saying that PPC is a quick and easy way to own the space and to support short-term promotions, rather than waiting around for your SEO results to show. According to Melanie, PPC will allow you to own the full experience, from the keyword to the message and to the landing page as well, unlike SEO.

To support her views in relation with preferring PPC over SEO, she gives the example of Toyota and says bad things can happen. The news results on the Toyota recall started owning the SEO results, so they focused efforts on PPC to address the negative news. Melanie then gave another example of Delta. Being Number 1already in SEO, Delta wondered whether they needed to use PPC on their branded terms? To know this, they conduct a test where they pulled back 50% of their PPC spend and saw significant decreases in revenue.

Melanie further says PPC and SEO does not cannibalize each other and initiates on using a Holistic Search Strategy which has the following benefits:

  • Using PPC and SEO will provide significant lift for each listing than only appearing in one or the other
  • Ability to reach the entire search audience
  • Increased revenue from the non branded searches
  • More efficient budget allocation of PPC campaigns based on natural results

The third speaker of the session was Rand. He started by saying that he is not in favor of considering PPC as a major search marketing tool. Rand says SEO vs. PPC is like Spain vs. North Korea in the World Cup. Further, he asks to focus efforts on video SEO as you can achieve page 1 results relatively easily.

According to Rand, PPC may have 1.2 x SEO's conversion rate, but who gets more traffic? SEO gets 7.3 x more clicks compared to PPC. To support his views, he further says, Marketers spend more on PPC; it's a proven channel. Only 10% is spent on SEO but what this means is that 10% of search marketing spend is focused on where 90% of the clicks come from. He'd rather be putting his time and money in SEO, where it's less competitive.

He concludes by saying that PPC is not a competitive advantage because it's for simpletons. SEO is hard and requires actual skill!

The penultimate speaker of the session was Thomas. Supporting PPC, he begin by calling SEOs a bunch of liars and praises PPC because it's cool and it makes money. In order to prove his point, Thomas highlights the importance of PPC which is mentioned below:

  • Full flexibility of budget and spend
  • Adjustments on short notice
  • Results are quicker to achieve
  • No or only small changes to website required
  • Various targeting options to ensure happy visitors
  • Full transparency

Moreover, he also said that PPC and SEO can also be used together for the following reasons:

  • Data generated can be exchanged for optimization
  • Remove space for bad reputation
  • SEO helps for AdWords Quality Score
  • Big PPC spend helps getting answers from Google (on SEO)
  • Less space for the competition


  • By utilizing PPC and SEO together will help in the significant lift for each listing than merely appearing in one or the other
  • For AdWords Quality Score, SEO is of great help
  • Big PPC is known to spend help getting answers from Google (on SEO)
PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle - SES San Francisco 2010 Day 3, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
4.thumbnail PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle   SES San Francisco 2010 Day 3

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle   SES San Francisco 2010 Day 3
4.thumbnail PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle   SES San Francisco 2010 Day 3