SEO More Effective than PPC, Survey Reports

According to a report by online agency, WebMarketing123, search engine optimization (SEO) continues to maintain its top standing for lead generating channels. U.S. digital marketers have also reported a steady decline in pay per click (PPC) effectiveness.

Over 500 U.S. marketing professionals, 65 percent of whom identified as B2B marketers were surveyed. Companies represented included:

  • GE
  • Sony
  • Cisco
  • Olympus
  • Bose
  • FedEx

Respondents from businesses with at least 1,000 employees amounted to 32 percent, while 23 percent came from companies with approximately 50 or less employees.

The 2012 State of Digital Marketing Survey also reports B2B marketers have indicated that social media marketing has also surpassed PPC as a lead generation channel.

Successful Lead Generation

SEO was credited by 59 percent of B2B and 49 percent of B2C marketers as having the greatest impact upon lead generation. Those numbers were a great deal higher than that of social media and PPC. The report indicated that B2B marketers believe social media has a slight edge over PPC, at 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Last Year Comparison

When compared to report results from last year, survey results indicated that Search Engine Optimization was given more credit for lead generation by both B2B and B2C marketers this year, while less credit was given to PPC efforts. PPC experienced a five point decline from the B2B side, from 25 to 20 percent. There was an eight point dip from 34 to 26 percent for the B2C side marketers.


There are quite a few fundamental distinctions between SEO and PPC channels. SEO focuses on driving traffic to websites through natural placements on major search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. The very fact that PPC is concerned with paid listings makes it clearly less “natural” than other online marketing techniques.

PPC may appear to provide some acceptable results immediately. However, as a long term strategy, it takes a great deal of dedication to continue those results and there is no guarantee that they will endure.

On the other hand, SEO utilizes aspects such as quality web content that connects with all manner of media, extending its reach far wider than that of PPC. In addition, the organic nature of inbound marketing makes SEO a far more successful strategy than PPC.

PPC Challenges

It is safe to assume that most marketers know that PPC efforts are a long term project rather than an immediate pay off. Those who are inexperienced with SEO and PPC particularly have found that getting the results they expect can be far trickier than they had anticipated. As a result, they often conclude that PPC is not worth the effort to invest in.

Even still, with a complete understanding and sufficient dedication, SEOs have routinely found, as evidenced by the survey, that the PPC channel can be a very slippery slope to navigate in order to produce desired and long-term results.

SEO Measurement

While respondents designated SEO as the best lead generation channel, they also stated that it is very challenging to measure organic search true ROI. It should also be noted that approximately half of the respondents were reliant upon ranking and traffic (basic) measurements. In contrast, approximately one third of respondents measure SEO by the number of actual sales or leads that were generated.

Over 30 percent of those surveyed indicated that the most pressing issue with SEO results is the complexity in measuring them. This is attributed to the fact that approximately 70 percent of the marketers expressed an inability to accurately distinguish sales or leads to organic search.

That data appears to be contrary to the information concerning SEO’s effectiveness as the most vital lead generation channel. This poses a question concerning whether SEO could be credited with even more effectiveness, assuming more marketers had the ability to track it with more certainty.

While the report confirms precisely what SEO industry leaders have known for some time, the future remains uncertain as to how lead generation measurement methods will continue to progress. Perhaps that should be the next big thing for marketers: to figure out a system that more accurately determines SEO results with respect to lead generation, in less challenging ways.

2012 State of Digital Marketing Report - SEO company, Webmarketing123


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