A question that is asked often from prospective clients and our current clients is, “What is the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC), and the traffic it brings to my website?”  This question is often proceeded by the following question, “why would I want to wait for results with SEO, when PPC can get me the website traffic that I need right away?”

While pondering a clever comparison, I immediately thought of  Aesop’s Fable: The Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise and the hare story bares a striking similarity to the world of SEO and PPC. Search engine optimization is usually thought of as the behind-the-scenes mystical voodoo that is the slower option in achieving results, whereas PPC builds traffic right away. Although PPC has the ability to generate traffic more quickly, it is not necessarily a predictor of increased conversions.

Below is my short rendition of The Tortoise and the Hare from Aesop’s Fable: “The PPC and SEO consultant ”

There once was a speedy PPC consultant who bragged about how quick he could get website visitors to his client’s website by clicking on his masterfully crafted PPC ads. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the SEO consultant, challenged him: Who could get the most conversions after a 3 month period. All the internet marketers in the office couldn’t wait to see the results.

The PPC consultant was seeing great results for a while ..but his ads were loosing relevancy and his ad copy needed to be adjusted and re-targeted. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, “How do you expect to win this race when you are waiting for Google to crawl your website at its slow, slow pace?”

The PPC  slouched in his chair and fell asleep, thinking, “There is plenty of time to relax, PPC works its magic all on its own, unlike that tedious SEO stuff.”

Slow and Steady, the SEO consultant worked his SEO expertise on his client’s website. He never, ever stopped making tweaks and adjustments to his strategy to build organic traffic.

seo ppc race

The other internet marketers in the office who knew about the challenge, saw how hard the SEO was working and decided to wake up the PPC consultant.

The PPC stretched and yawned and began to work on his ad copy, but it was too late. The 3 month period was over, and the SEO consultant had the most overall conversions.

After that, the PPC consultant always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your high click through rate (CTR) and speedy website traffic, search engine optimization converts traffic just as well, if not better than pay per click , it just takes more time and is for clients who have long term, sustainable internet marketing goals.”

So, what can we learn from my crazy rendition of “The Tortoise and the Hare” story?

Well, first of all, and most importantly, SEO is a long term approach to build your business’ web presence. SEO consultants aren’t trying to steal your money every month, it is just the way SEO works. PPC can be used as a long term approach as well, but doesn’t have the same effects as SEO. It can be hard to understand this concept, so it is essential for the SEO or PPC consultant to break down what each is, and how they work as clearly as possible in the beginning to avoid any misunderstandings later on.

There are two really good books that I recommend for anyone looking to gain more knowledge on each of these internet marketing approaches:

SEO: The Art of SEO

PPC: Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords

Both of these books go into great detail compared to many other books you could get on each subject, but the more in depth, the better knowledge you will gain!


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