Ah, the age old question: SEO vs PPC.  Which is better?  There has been quite a bit of analysis on the benefits and detractions of a search engine optimization strategy versus a well-crafted Adwords campaign. It usually breaks down to several distinct characteristics of each method:

SEO: A long -term organic strategy for a business to drive online traffic.

PPC: An immediate implementation to enable a business to get the right eyes on their product or service.

SEO: Takes a creative, qualitative, content driven and socially-aware approach.  (Writing quality content, creating social media conversations, requesting link-backs, etc.)

PPC: Takes an  analytical, quantitative and ‘by-the-numbers’ approach.  (Analyzing data, trends, and traffic estimates to ascertain the best formula for success).

In a sense, the SEO vs PPC debate is similar to the dichotomy of pre-internet advertising models.  Take coupons vs. brand awareness.  Coupons are a great way to drive immediate traffic to a business – simply advertise them in the local newspaper and acquire customers through your great deals and offers.  However, when you stop offering the coupons, you’ll likely cut off the flow of new customers. Brand Awareness is a long term strategy – utilizing print, television and various other mediums to get in your customer’s head and make them suddenly remember your brand when they are walking through the grocery store aisle.  Brand awareness is a long term strategy that often takes the creativity you see in shows like Mad Men.

It’s never so cut-and-dry though.   Coupons need a degree of creativity, and can have a long term effect, just as a branding campaign needs to crunch the numbers and make sense in the short term.  The same goes for PPC and SEO.  Although in general PPC is a qualitative effort, it takes creativity to fit an eye-catching ad tagline in 25 characters.  And SEO may be a long term organic strategy, but it should also take the short term into account by targeting long-tail keywords that will be easier to rank for while the ‘big fish’ are catching up.

So…who would win in a fight?  It would probably go something like this: