Question: When do you emphasize organic search engine optimization? When do you emphasize pay-per-click advertising? What is a mix best?

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Answer: Before you embark on a search engine marketing campaign, carefully consider your time frame and budget.

Optimizing a Web site so it is properly indexed and ranks highly within the organic results of a search engine takes time. At the core of the search engine optimization (SEO) effort is a thorough understanding of each engine’s business rules, which encompass guidelines and preferences for content, keyword density, submissions and site-sharing policies, as well as each engine’s structure and audience composition.

Conversely, a strategic pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, featuring paid placement on a search engine’s results page, can drive leads and sales while generating brand and product awareness without requiring time-consuming optimization efforts. However, the competitive nature of the bid-driven PPC marketplace can temper a campaign’s success, especially if you operate within a search-savvy industry or bid on popular keywords or phrases.

The most effective search engine marketing programs tend to combine SEO and PPC advertising. As the SEO effort takes root, it helps ensure a long life for the campaign, which makes it more cost-effective over time. Meanwhile, the PPC advertising may be smartly employed to fill gaps where organic search efforts fall short.

Ultimately, there are several ways to compose an effective search engine marketing campaign. The most successful ones feature clearly defined goals and objectives, a commitment to monitoring and measuring developments and a willingness to modify tactics as needed.

Jim Grinney is a partner at 90octane, Denver. He can be reached at


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