Note May 2013: This article was originally published at HoodWebManagement.com in Nov 2011 and was migrated here in May 2013.

A frequent question I hear from small business owners is “Why should I be spending money on SEO and linkbuilding when I already pay for Google Ads?”

Organic Search Traffic Graph

Does your website own traffic like this?

For a long time I answered with the typical descriptions of how SEO works and how the two differ from one another, until I finally came up with the following analogy:

Pay-Per-Click advertising is like renting your website traffic: The second you quit paying for it, you’re left empty-handed.

Organic rankings from SEO is like owning your website traffic: Even when you decide to hang up your SEO hat, you continue receiving the dividends of your past Search Engine Optimization efforts, often for many years.

They finally get it! This analogy helps small business owners understand that PPC and SEO are both great, but SEO is the real long term win for small businesses!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I absolutely recommend that all businesses test and utilize both forms of search marketing. PPC has huge benefits including instant traffic and results, granular targeting and analytics, and just like renting, it offers liquidity: you can stop buying a keyword instantly. That makes it a great way to test a keyword or niche before you invest more money into it.

But that said, SEO is a long-term investment in your business and your website. So, are you renting your website traffic, or are you building equity in your website traffic?

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