Most marketers who are just starting out want free traffic. They chase after low search volume keywords hoping that their site somehow will be able to squeeze some profit. Building content sites works but I wouldn’t recommend going after 1 single keyword phrase with a thin website (not after Penguin update).
This is why in my opinion proper SEO campaign costs way more money than a quick paid traffic campaign. Free traffic is just an illusion. There is no such a thing as free traffic. You have to spend a lot of time and effort to generate it. Most of the time it costs money too, especially if you can’t write your own content.
SEO is no longer free. It’s not only unreliable and unstable but also extremely expensive. If you are not already established or don’t have funds to keep going for a year or 2 then you are destined to fail.
You need to start thinking about rolling out paid traffic campaigns. Whether it’s solo ads, media buys, ppc, or cpv you can quickly test things and within hours know exactly if you are going to make money with what you are doing or not.
You can still get pretty cheap clicks on Adwords content network. For $50 you can get hundreds of clicks to an offer and see if it converts. How much time would you have to spend on SEO to get hundreds of clicks to your CPA or affiliate offer? Probably months!
So the questions you need to ask yourself is this: Do I want to wait 2-3 months to find out if my site can make money or do I want to spend maybe $100 and find out by tomorrow?
Here is why paying for traffic is better and more efficient
1. It’s cheaper – If you can’t write your own content you need to hire someone else to do it. Good content pieces are not cheap. 1000 words post written in a way that provides value and engages your readers will cost anywhere from $70-$150 each. To rank for a good “money making” keyword with high search volume you will probably need at least 50 of them.
You also need quality backlinks to rank. After recent changes link building is risky and if done in a spammy way can totally ruin your site. So now you are spending money on content and link building but you don’t know if all of this is going to work. You are just hoping for “Google love” and it might never come, or even worse you could be getting a penalty if you are too aggressive with your promotional methods.
By the time your site starts getting any substantial traffic that generates revenue you will have at least a few thousand dollars invested in the project.
If you are building simple product review sites you might still be able to rank them but trust me their time is ticking. Larger authority sites is where the money is at and they are not easy to build.
2. It’s instant – I can create a 5 page site with a landing page preselling an offer and flood it with traffic overnight for $50-$100. I can quickly get the data I need to make adjustments and possibly scale it. Within 2-3 days I know if I am going to make money or not. I don’t have to wait months or years.
So instead of throwing thousands of dollars out the window on an SEO campaign that might or might not work I could take a smaller chunk of that budget and run some tests with paid traffic sources.
I don’t know about you but I like fast results. Waiting months and months to get the search engine rankings you want might not be such a good idea after all.
3. It requires less effort – Some of you think that blogging and writing content is so cool. You post stuff and money just roll in lol …not really! It can be like that if you have already established your brand but to get to that point you will need to put in loads of cash and months of hard work.
“It takes three years to be an overnight success, sometimes more” – Seth Godin
I can outsource my landing page creation for $50 or knock one out in 2 hours myself. Spend some time adding images, good headlines, calls to action, and boom I am ready to throw some traffic at it. By next day I have valuable data that I can use to plan how I am going to scale it up.
4. It’s easily scalable – If you are paying for traffic less than what you are making from it then the most obvious thing to do is to crank up your daily budget. Leverage other paid traffic sources. If you are good a tracking ad networks then you can target the site that converts well for you from multiple traffic sources.
If your text ad gets good ctr on MSN.com for example then see what other ad networks buy banner spots there so you can have your ad show in multiple spots on the same page.
You can’t scale so easily with SEO. To increase traffic you need more pages and writing content takes a lot of time.
There is a place for SEO though and you should do it if you got some cashflow already. If you know which keywords convert well and produce a lot of searches then it makes sense to build content sites around those keywords. The only difference now is that it’s not life or death situation for your business if it doesn’t work out.
You can build large content sites while you are making money from your paid traffic sources. You now got time and funds to make things happen. Everything can be totally outsourced and you save yourself all the frustration and stress that you would experience if you were going to do everything on your own.
I can guarantee you that if you were writing all your content yourself during the day and doing link building at night then you wouldn’t last longer than 2-3 months without substantial results to show for it. You would probably be pulling your hair out by the end of the second month.
SEO is just more expensive now. It’s no longer 2004! Competition is extreme and everything takes a lot of time before you get to see the fruits of your work.
I don’t think you should give up on it, because there is always room for smart SEOs to make some quick cash, but if you can’t handle the stress or failure then it probably makes more sense to try paid traffic first before getting into the SEO game.