For small to mid-sized businesses that don’t have $10k to drop on PPC every month, there is still some search marketing value to be had from launching a PPC campaign, even if you can only spend a minimal amount. In my experience, organic SEO produces much more long-term results than PPC, but certain elements of PPC can actually enhance your SEO.
The nice thing about launching a PPC campaign is that you can get a lot of useful data very quickly that can then be applied to your SEO campaigns, including keyword research. Site owners can test the effectiveness of certain keywords with a PPC campaign and then slowly incorporate those new keywords into their SEO. Instead of waiting 3-6 months to find out if you targeted the right keywords, you can make faster headway and start your SEO off in the right direction. SEO is a long term process, but cutting out some of the uncertainty about choosing the right keywords can definitely give your SEO a boost.
I have found that PPC ads work best for branded searches. When someone is searching for your site directly they are already one step closer to conversion. I’d rather pay the few dollars for that click when I know that someone is actively looking for my company, and not just checking out their options. The further they are in the buying cycle the more worthwhile that PPC ad is.
Having a strong, branded presence in both the organic and paid search listings really enhances your overall online brand presence and helps build your trust factor. The more touch points you create with your website, PPC ads, social profiles, blogs and so forth the more likely you are to connect with your target audience, increasing your traffic and ultimately your conversion rate.
I feel like I should mention that some site owners claim that they’ve noticed a correlation between how much they spend in Google AdWords and where their site ranks; the more they spend the better they do organically. Google emphatically denies they offer any preferential treatment to big AdWords accounts, but that hasn’t done much to quash the rumors. Personally, I have yet to notice any correlation between my or my client’s PPC budget and our organic success. It will be interested to see what happens as time goes on.