Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Traffic Diversity isn’t just for Protecting Yourself; Each Type of...

Traffic Diversity isn’t just for Protecting Yourself; Each Type of Traffic has a Different Characteristics that Together form Long Term Synergies

The war between SEO and PPC traffic continues to wage every day. Why would you pay for traffic when you can get it for free? Why would you invest in SEO when there are no guarantees? My blog got Dugg but I didn’t get any conversions, social traffic is a waste of time. Bloggers aren’t journalists, I don’t want links from a blogger, give me the New York Times instead. Local traffic is too time consuming.

I’ve created a very basic chart of how I think of traffic. It’s a basic outline, not a detailed look at every advertising medium.

However, before I list out the chart, I must once again share two thoughts.

SEO is not free traffic. I got my start in SEO (almost 10 years ago) and I’m still a fan of SEO. However, if you are a DIYer (do it yourselfer) the monthly cost of SEO is:

  • ((what your time is worth (or how much you would make if you were doing something else)) x (number of hours)+
  • (cost of paid links) +
  • (programmer time in redoing your CMS) +
  • (copywriters) +
  • (other misc items which can range from server configs to paying for diggers)

All this for non-guaranteed results that can go away in a single update. Anyone who lived through the Florida update understands how fast traffic can go away. This doesn’t mean SEO isn’t worth it (I’m a fan of SEO); it just means that it’s a source of traffic that should be integrated with other marketing ideas.

In the below chart, conversions is how good the conversion rate is. Traffic is a measure of how much is possible (on average, some niches and methods will be much more successful than others and there are always exceptions), and Awareness is essentially Branding.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of advertising types. There are also exceptions to every single rule; so this is only a guideline and anyone can easily argue that any one of these can be better than another depending on the circumstances.

  Conversions Traffic Awareness Pros Cons
PPC Great OK OK Amazing amount of control Pay for every click. Very complex.
SEO OK Great Good A successful ranking for a sustained period of time is one of the cheapest forms of traffic. No guarantees. Can gain or lose traffic quickly.
Social for Traffic (Digg) Poor Fantastic Poor Amount of traffic can be staggering. Good for link building. Can be blacklisted from sites, very difficult to control.
Social for awareness (LinkedIN) OK (but more unusual opportunities) Poor Good Helps with reputation management, leads to interesting opportunities Most companies don’t get much traffic from Facebook or LinkedIn. The exception is widgets that take off.
Radio Poor (for web) OK Good Same as TV; but much cheaper. If your audience commutes, test out radio. Hard to measure (use vanity call tracking numbers) for the web.
TV Poor (for web) Fantastic Great TV is not going away. Easier to launch a new mass market product via TV than web (best bet is integrated campaign) Difficult, expensive through traditional channels. Some new companies making this both cheaper and more accessible. Same as Radio.
Blogs OK (but more unusual opportunities) Good OK The social aspect of blogs leads to opportunities that wouldn’t normally occur outside of meeting people in person. Time! I’m a bad blogger and it’s due to the time to properly run and manage a blog.
Speaking Engagements OK OK Great Same as blogs; but the travel is more fun. Time and time and even me time.
Local (Maps & Search) Great OK OK Growing arena of traffic. This combined with YP is a must for local businesses. Inexpensive. Takes a lot of time and research (just like SEO) to find and optimize listings across all the disparate local properties.
IYP Great OK OK The digital form of the YellowPages (which are the original local search) is one of the highest converting forms of advertising. Ongoing monthly cost.
CPM – RoN OK OK OK When you get this right, you can see a lot of traffic and great conversions. Run of network ads are dependent on the creative and dedicated landing page to work properly. Can be difficult to find the right combination.
CPM – Behavioral Great OK OK I love these; but we’ll see how the privacy arguments shape out. The more you segment your audience, the better the conversions, the lower the traffic – a real balancing act.
Mobile PPC Great OK Poor Amazing conversions, very little traffic. Creating a mobile site isn’t hard, but do it. Use both a call tracking number, but also a locator page.
Mobile CPM Poor Poor OK Great if your product enhances a smartphone or is related to a phone in some manner. Haven’t seen many case studies where this worked for a large variety of companies. However, expect the sophistication to grow and become a more viable traffic source in the future.

This is a quick list I wrote on a Sunday morning. It’s not perfect, one can debate every statement. It’s a starting point to illustrate some differences.

It’s also worth nothing there’s a difference between advertising and marketing.

…advertising is the paid promotion of goods and services. Advertising is an outlet for your creative message. Advertising is about reaching consumers. While reaching consumers is important, the message that’s delivered to those consumers is what makes them wish to do business with you instead of your competition.

Advertising is reaching consumers. Marketing is communicating with consumers. We shouldn’t be having conversations about just how to reach searchers and serve ads to them. Instead, we should be having conversations about how to connect with searchers once they have seen the advertisements.

Source: Turn Your PPC Advertising Campaign Into An Effective Search Marketing Machine

If you’d like to see some stats of social vs SEO vs PPC vs Press releases, I think this is a good article:

As you can see, when you balance the Pros, Cons, Conversions, Traffic, and Awareness for each of these advertising mediums – there is no one perfect type. It’s through an integration of different advertising mediums that one can sustain and grow a business model regardless of marketing rule changes.

In the next debate when someone asks you to compare PPC vs SEO vs Social; the conversation shouldn’t be should you do this and not do that. The conversation is how to use them together to create greater results.

Though synergistic advertising methodologies the benefits of each adverting type are enhanced to create marketing campaigns that are far better than any one medium could every produce.

No Comments

  1. Top 101 Blog Directories & RSS Submission Sites
    May 5, 2008 at 9:53 pm ·


    Very thoughtful post with great insight. Your point that SE traffic is not free because of the value of time is right on the money.

    One point of emphasis I would like to add is my view that the best type of advertising with no capital outlay is sending commercial messages to members of your own opt-in lists.

    Of course, communications with your lists should offer info or resources that solve a problem or fulfill a need. Then, 1 in 3
    messages can contain a commercial appeal.

    So, I did not see any mention of list building in your categorization. Mundane resources like traffic exchanges, safelists, and multi level free advertising programs should be listed in addition to PPC and SEO as list building resources.

    It has been said that “The money is in the list” Well,
    actually “The money is in your relationship to the list”

    Best of success,

    Robert A. Kearse

  2. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    May 6, 2008 at 4:56 am ·

    Agreed, I’m also a fan of sending to opt in lists – they are one of the highest converting sources of traffic – once you have the list.

    Of course, the difficulty there is in building the list. It’s some time and money (depending on how sophisticated your email software is).

    I also think of in-house email lists as one of the top forms of customer retention and customer relationship building. The most expensive thing to do is start a relationship with a business; it’s much cheaper to maintain the relationship (via email or other) than to acquire a new one.