SEO vs. Paid Search Marketing Clash


If you have not gone over and read about the tussle between Dave Pasternack and SEO pros, you must take a minute to review it, it has been quite entertaining. Our friend Michael Gray has jumped in with both feet, and his post called Dave Pasternack of – How to Fix Your Problem is an excellent place to get a good overview of the feud. Essentially Dave Pasternack has come out saying SEO isn’t “rocket science,” and it has caused a bit of a stir among the SEO ranks. Pasternack claims he gave up SEO years ago, and now considers himself a PPC expert, and co-founded a company that consults and assists firms with their paid search campaigns. It is his opinion that SEO is a “Fix-it-Once” Task, not an Ongoing Service. It is this statement where Mr. Pasternack loses credibility. It would be nice for all of us small business owners if SEO really was a quick, one-time fix, but instead it is an ongoing and unrelenting pursuit. Not only to keep our sites optimized to do well in SERPs, but also to stay ahead of our competitors, competing for the same keywords in the same marketplace. I think this point gets glossed over by many discussing SEO. As a business person first, I personally don’t care if I show up as #1 on a SERP, I just want to show up above my nearest competitor for the same or similar products and services. Some markets will be more volatile than others, but keeping an eye on competitors, and their movements in the SERPs will always be important, and most likely a moving target. The importance of competitor watchdogging will continue to increase as more firms figure out the benefits of online marketing, and begin to implement SEO and Paid Search techniques.

So personally, I have no problem with the use of well researched, and wisely created PPC campaigns, and well managed SEO techniques; there is a place for both practices, and using one without the other doesn’t make much sense. The first step however is to SEO your site and get it optimized for the traffic which the PPC ads will hopefully drive to it. I have noticed Paid Search only gurus occasionally suggest SEO pros use “scare tactics” to encourage long-term service contracts, but unfortunately the Paid Search guys do the same thing, making site owners nervous about doing PPC campaigns themselves, and perhaps blowing their opportunity to do well. PPC isn’t too tough either, don’t let either of the two groups scare you, just realize both take some expertise, and some patience to LEARN. The main reason there is demand for these two services is they both can be overwhelming if you don’t understand them, and they are both work.

As an example, 5 years ago I use to sit down and do my business and personal taxes myself, I even used TurboTax a few times. Even with all the Turbo Tax tools it took quite a bit of time, it wasn’t rocket science, and I got the job done, but frankly I did not enjoy it, even though a sizable refund was my eventual reward. Now with a dozen different business running, and less time, and no patience for our screwed-up tax system, I love the fact I can pay someone, an expert, to do all that work for me. I could do it, but I don’t want to, I have other pressing matters more important to me. There is the SEO and Paid Search services in a nutshell. The tools, advice to do both are out there to learn, but whether someone has the time or desire to learn and do them on their own, is completely another issue. I will also admit there is some increasing art to the SEO process when we consider link baiting, creating a buzz and social marketing aspects into the online equation.

Finally, there will be times when all the SEO and Paid Search in the world isn’t going to get you anywhere, as marketing results will depend on the industry you are marketing within. One of our companies has a very nice site, it is SEOed well, and we have been running solid PPC campaigns for the most appropriate keywords in the industry, but we have gained little traffic and only a few leads a month. We know the industry well, we know our service is widely sought after, we know we are priced nicely, but we still don’t have the business we know we could have. So last week we headed Orlando to exhibit at a large trade show in this industry. The results were amazing, our service was highly sought after and well received. We heard comments like “where have you guys been?” or “we have been looking for something like this for years,” from booth visitors. So the golden question… where were our potential clients looking when they couldn’t find us? The answer… obviously not online. Make sure you know your potential clients, and where they are most likely to be searching to find you, if it isn’t online, then adjust to help them find you some other way.

The world continues to move online, and will continue to do so in an ever increasing pace, but not everyone is there yet. Marketing is the art of getting the firm’s message to potential clients, wherever they may be, even if it is offline. So getting your site’s SEO in line now will pay dividends in the future, but it may not be the end-all, be-all marketing home run you want it to be right now, especially if your future clients just aren’t online yet.

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