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Is SEO Really Another Form of Advertising?

Friday, April 15, 2016
Online MarketingSEM & SEO

Be honest about resources – and expectations.


What is the purpose of advertising on TV? Magazines? Billboards?

What is the purpose of search engine or display advertising?

What is the purpose of SEO?

You’re either going for brand awareness or direct response. Some will argue that online advertising is only direct response, but when you look at click-through-rates (terrible, but lots of “free” impressions), advertisers are actually paying for branding (sorry – online marketing humor).

They all have intermediaries – media buyers, publications, networks and websites – whether it’s CBS, the New York Times, Facebook or Google – yes, Google is just another intermediary with its own indecipherable rules that control SEO, which then affects PPC costs.

They all require resources. Time and money. Creatives, producers, analysts. Approvals. Management.

But the online stuff gives you data – lots and lots of data. Sometimes it’s data that you can use. Sometimes it’s data that tells the real story but gets you fired. And sometimes you pull the data that is fluff but can be molded into a good story.

And, sure SEO can be more effective at driving sales and leads, but not if you need them TOMORROW! SEO is a long game and it requires resources, just like any marketing tactic.

However, since PPC tactics vary in complexity, many businesses simply use it to keep the competitions’ links pushed down the page in their organic SERPs. It’s more of a defensive land-grab. And since it complements SEO, why not cover the brand?

Either way, you’re spending time and money to occupy space in front of somebody’s eyeballs. And you’re hoping either your message sinks in (branding) or the viewer does something (direct response).

The point is that we need to be honest about what we expect from our various tactics. And we need to be really honest about how much we’re willing to spend for a lead or sale.

Let me know your thoughts!