Google’s recent trend of emphasising paid search results, and giving them more and more room on the front page of search engine results, leaving less space for organic results, has generated considerable debate about what businesses should be doing.

In a similar vein, a recent study by SEOMoz has revealed that PPC ads receive over two-thirds of the clicks when users are searching with the intent to purchase.

Some optimisers are saying that Google is trying to reduce “free clicks,” but doesn’t really take into account the fact that professional level SEO is scarcely free.

To be honest, due to the effort required for SEO, it’s never really been free. And for small businesses trying to get valuable revenue from a different source, they may find PPC is the cheaper solution.

PPC Targets Conversions

The entire purpose of PPC campaigns is to generate conversions. The landing page of a PPC advertisement is the first step in a constructive conversion funnel. If it’s designed properly, it can grab customers from there and move them through the process. The best is, statistically, people arriving on those pages have some intention of buying, based on their choice of keyword.

SEO still gets more clicks overall, but only for general informational and navigational queries (which can constitute as much as 80% of search queries). However with SEO efforts, you’re increasing your presence and exposure, but you may be catching actual paying customers too early and with the wrong entry pages.

Measuring SEO

It can be risky for a small business owner to dedicate a big budget to an SEO strategy that may or may not drive business. The ROI on SEO used to be easy to measure but with the complexities involved with the practice these days, assessing the effectiveness of these projects can be frustrating and sometimes inaccurate.

PPC is directly measurable. After all, you pay for each click which takers a user to a landing page that directly seeks a conversion. It’s a rather simple figure to measure. Those with small budgets can appreciate dealing with ROI rather than more ambiguous KPIs such as company image or web traffic (which shows that you are becoming more popular but doesn’t necessarily equal conversions)

SEO Is a Large Undertaking

Due to the huge influx of competition and algorithm updates, the practice of SEO has become a very complex discipline that can require almost constant tweaks and additions. You don’t just implement an SEO strategy, get a good ranking then forget about it. You will always have to inject resources into it to maintain your rank.

Be it link-building, retaining content freshness or just trying to grab up some new social signals, there is no rest for the search engine optimiser. But there is a lot of value in SEO and anyone trying to lead an industry will need to factor in to their business functions.

For the small business owner however, who’s just trying to increase profits, a well-planned PPC campaign can be a lot more targeted, help you reach markets that have previously been inaccessible and establishing an easily measurable revenue stream.