Some Fights Are Just Plain Silly

A Fight About PPC And SEO

By Chris Richardson

Which one of these methods is the most effective when it comes to search engine marketing? Is it a “one or the other” technique or is a successful SEM campaign dependent on prudent utilization of both techniques? These questions have been brought to the forefront thanks to a brewing disagreement between parties supporting each side.

The tension started (this time) when an article appearing in questioned whether or not SEO techniques were a legitimate need of the prospective search engine marketer. Dave Pasternack of wrote the article. One of the points of Pasternack’s is SEO is “fix-it-and-forget-it” exercise that doesn’t need constant monitoring; an idea that left a number of SEO providers shocked and disappointed.

One such SEO provider, Greg Boser, took issue with Pasternack’s article but kept quiet… that is until another article appeared at ClickZ saying essentially the same thing as Pasternack’s work. Kevin Lee, also of and SEMPO, wrote the second article. In his writing, Lee indirectly compared search optimizers to spammers while saying they took a scatter-shot approach to improving rankings. However, in Lee’s defense, it’s never clear whether he is talking about those who spam search engines or the SEO industry in general.

However, Lee Odden and Greg Boser took Lee’s statement the way it was probably intended and they let their feelings be known. Odden’s response was posted a couple of days ago and in it, he indicates such articles are merely self-promotion ploys in an effort to get people to notice the initial writer’s brand:

I agree with Richard Ball that the genesis of this thread of commentary is an effort to gain attention for the purpose of self promotion than one that offers any real insight. It doesn’t really serve client interests to bash one tactic over another when both are powerful marketing tools. And like any other tool, there is a right time and place for them. I’ve always believed that a tool is only as good as the expertise of its user.

Odden goes on to say a robust campaign makes use of both techniques, even though getting the expected results to coincide can be difficult:

Is it really worth spending a ton of time debating that SEO is not rocket science and that PPC is simple? I think not because these are not accurate characterizations. SEO and PPC initiatives can be as simple or as difficult as the situation warrants. It’s different nearly every time.

While getting PPC and SEO to work together can be challenging, the results of a cooperative strategy can far exceed of any tactic on its own.

Boser, on the other hand, is a little bit more combative – taking each writer to task while openly questioning the motives behind these articles. He also pointed out the writers’ combined stance bordered on hypocrisy because of Did-It’s previous support of the SEO arm of search marketing. The thinking is if you are going to trash an industry, you may want to admit you were once apart of it. However, like Odden, Boser seemed to have the biggest issue with SEO spammer statement:

Kevin’s relevancy argument clearly implies that the sites showing up on the left side of the screen are using “risky” spamming tactics that will ultimately cause irrelevant pages to show up. He is pushing the message that allocating money for organic SEO is synonymous with being a spammer…

We’re not talking pills, porn and casinos here. We’re talking mainstream commercial search terms for products and services my Mother would be searching for. And for the most part, the sites that are dominating the organic listings are doing so with extremely relevant content.

There are other issues discussed in his post as well. The one that stood out to me has to do with Kevin Lee’s SEMPO membership. Boser feels Lee is completely disregarding the SEMPO community by focusing on his personal agenda.

To combat these attacks, he proposes (tongue in cheek… I think) an organization supporting the organic marketing approach. The mission? To promote SEO by trashing PPC – something that would probably be pretty harmful for the growth of SEM industry – which was Boser’s point about the Lee and Pasternack attacks to begin with.

Our take on this debate: We’ve seen successful SEO strategies that involved no PPC and we’ve seen successful PPC campaigns for websites that haven’t been SEOd. The key is to do what works for you. It is likely that most webmasters would get more for their money in the long run by successfully integrating both approaches into one overall plan. But, really, it’s nothing to fight about.

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