Is SEO more popular than PPC ?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Recently, I came across an interesting post from Hit Search Limited, a US British search engine marketing agency, which compared the trends in search volume for the keywords 'seo' against 'ppc in different markets (US, UK, Australia, and Canada) using Google Trends.

According to the graph below, which displays the comparison of search volume for each keyword over the last 12 months in Australia, the volume of search for the keyword SEO overtook the search volume for the keyword PPC in April 2008. On the other hand, the volume of search for the phrase 'PPC' has decreased for a couple of months.

seo vs ppc - search volume in Australia

While this trend obviously reflects a growing interest for search engine optimisation, it might be a little ambitious to assume that SEO is taking over PPC in Australia for the following reasons.

The recent report Australia Online,published by eMarketer in July 2008, shows that the expenditures in search engine advertising have increased by 29% in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to 2006. Google Trends measures the popularity of one keyword, but does not always matches with the actual state of the market

Another factor that could explain the difference between the reality in the market and the trends displayed by Google Trends, is the fact that Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be named differently. PPC can also be referred as Search Engine Advertising, Search engine marketing or even CPC (Cost Per Click) Advertising. In the current graph the search volume of all these phrases are not displayed.
If you add the search volume for all the different ways of naming PPC, and displays it as a graph, the volume of search might still be way over the volume of search for the keyword SEO.
While not reflecting the accurate popularity of the CPC advertising channel, this graph clearly shows that the keyword PPC is not searched as much as it used to be and therefore this reflect a shift in the way of naming this type of advertising.

As correctly mentioned by the author of the post on Hit Search, it would be interesting to see if the Australian market will reflect this trends in the next couple of months. Clear signs in the Australian market would give a more legitimate answer to the question: Is SEO mainstream in Australia?

Another interesting aspect brought by this comparison is the fact that Google Trends actually measures the popularity of one keyword over time. While this information is useful, it still has to be analysed with care as many factors are not reflected with this tool.


Anonymous said...

Glad you liked the's an interesting one isn't it. Mainly because the trend was reflected globally like that.

It's easy to editorialise off the back of these stats but it would seem that the term SEO is attracting much more interest and if you think about it they way the economies are going it makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Oh and PS : We're British not Americans.

Alban G. said...

Oops I have correct the mistake, you are now a British agency :-)

Thanks for your feedback. Indeed, it is an interesting article and even more interesting to see that the popularity of SEO is growing.

The reason I 'editorialised off the back of these stats' is that I received the latest report from eMarketer, which stated that search engine advertising increased again in the last quarter of 2007 in Australia.
I thought it was interesting to see the differences between the 'trends' and the realities of the market.

If you read one of my previous post I am also quite convinced that SEO makes sense :-). One thing I was not fully convinced is the conclusion made based on Google Trends...

As you said in your post, we may find out later on about this assumptions... Feel free to keep me posted!


Anonymous said...

Interesting Article. Just like PPC can be called internet advertising. SEO is also known by a variety of terms like 'search engine optimisation','search engine rankings' etc.

Overall, it is hard to say which is more popular overall, but definitely both of them are growing and will continue to grow for the next few years.

Anonymous said...

Nice Article. Both PPC and SEO are mainly used for making our business more popular and grow...

Brate said...

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