These following acronyms are probably two of the most important terms in the world of Internet advertising: PPC and SEO.
First we have PPC. This is also called CPC. This stands for Pay Per Click or Cost Per Click advertising. In other words you are paying each time someone clicks on your link.
The second term, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of building a website that is search engine friendly. Search engine friendly means that Google can find your site and once found it will know what the major keyword points you are trying to make. Also it will determine when to show your URL to prospective web surfers based on your keywords. There are many other search engines but Google is largest for the moment so you should optimize your site for them.
If you are a small business person with limited funds which program should you do PPC or SEO? My answer is both.
A PPC program from Overture or Google is a relatively quick traffic generator. You give those companies your keywords and if those keywords have any traffic at all you will get some visitors. This type of program can be up and running within 24 hours. The huge advantage of the PPC program is the uptime speed and quantity of targeted traffic. The huge downside is cost. PPC programs can get expensive very fast. $0.10 per click doesn't sound expensive until you get 10,000 clicks in a month. That means you just spent $1,000 on that one search term!
A SEO program is extremely slow and very tedious to get going. If you don't know what you are doing it can cost upwards of $3,000 to have your site optimized.
The good news about a SEO program is that you can learn how to optimize your site yourself. It takes trial and error to see what is working. It also takes knowledge of how search engines work to get them going correctly. I personally use LivePerson.com's live chat to watch the search terms for all of my sites in real time. Your server's log files will also help you with your search terms. You can bet your bottom dollar that if you do everything correctly a SEO program will take you 90 days just to start seeing results. In this case results mean getting targeted traffic. You need to have time and patience to give your SEO program a chance to work.
There is no doubt that for immediate results the PPC route is clearly the way to go. You will get immediate results. My suggestion is that as soon as you put your first dollar into PPC you should start working on Search Engine Optimization yourself. The reason is 90 to 180 days from now you can stop paying for some of your PPC terms a s the search engines natural abilities start indexing and showing your web pages to visitors. You need to force yourself to learn the SEO process. A solid SEO program goes well beyond meta tags these days.
The ultimate goal of advertising is to drive targeted traffic. If you can get SEO targeted traffic vs. PPC targeted traffic then you will place a lot of money on the bottom line of your business. Placing a lot of money on the bottom line is probably the ultimate goal of your business.