Lately I've had a lot of clients who were unsure as to why they should even consider Pay Per Click search engine traffic. I've noticed a stigma around these ads with non Internet Marketing professionals. The common complaint I hear about PPC traffic is that the clients don't see why they should bother with PPC as they are more concerned with SEO. I can understand this concern for obvious reasons, organic search traffic is FREE! The differences between the two types of traffic is not as simple as one might think, however. Many people say "I don't want to buy PPC traffic because I don't even click those ads when I use the search engines, I go directly to the normal links"
The truth of the matter is that the people that do click the paid ads most likely know that they are paid, and realize that the advertiser is not some kid sitting in his basement making a website. They feel that the sites that are in the paid listings are serious about their business and serious enough to shell out money for their traffic. These same people that click the PPC ads also are also more serious about either purchasing something or spending money during their visit, which is why the conversion rates for PPC traffic are almost always higher for in comparison to organic SE traffic. In my career, when I have been lucky enough to see a number one organic listing for a targeted, highly traffic'd keyword, these visitors usually convert at an average 1:200 (or .5%). This has been when the site itself is well constructed and has a good conversion strategy in place. Now when I've dealt with very niche markets purchasing PPC traffic I have seen regular conversions from anywhere to 4-20% (1:25 - 1:5). Of course this traffic is much more expensive then you might think, but the conversions speak for themselves. Of course these numbers will change from market to market and from site to site, but the fact remains that in MOST markets your PPC traffic will convert far better then your organic traffic. I have also noticed among most sites that I have dealt with that the PPC visitor will more often spend more time on your site, spend more per visit and spend more per transaction then an organic visitor. Once again this could underline the opinion that paid visitors are more likely to buy, and more likely to spend more money, both added benefits to PPC traffic. In the below example you can see that the Google organic traffic shown is actually much better the the above example, but still not as good as the PPC, and it there is not nearly the volume of organic traffic that there is for the PPC sources.
The moral of this blog post is that if you don't have a well rounded SEM strategy, you need to consider both PPC and SEO to see what works best for your site in your market, because you may be missing out on a lot of conversions. One last note in closing is that don't shy away from PPC to early, as you will need to build up return visitors, return customers, bookmarks, word of mouth referalls and much more in order to really build a profitable PPC campaign.