SEO is a one-time fix?

Dave Pasternack of (an PPC firm) has stirred up a controversy in the SEO community by claiming that SEO is not rocket science, and that SEO is simply a one-time fix (see here and here). The message is that companies do not need to hire an external SEO firm in an ongoing basis. Of course, the SEO community, many of whom who make their living by engaged with clients in an ongoing basis, does not like this message, and many have been very vocal about it. For example, Aaron Wall of is starting a contest at Threadwatch.

Let’s look at the key arguments Dave presented:

1. SEO is not rocket science. I definitely agree that it’s not, and neither is PPC. The principles for both are well-known.� Really, neither is that complicated.

2. SEO is a one-time fix. This is wrong. In fact, if SEO is a one-time fix, then PPC must be a one-time fix, too. Why? SEO, when done right, generates traffic for the long run; PPC, when done right, generates traffic for the short run. This line of logic tells me PPC is definitely more short-term than SEO. Oh, you are saying it’s the effort for doing SEO that’s a one-time thing? Wrong again. Of course, a site with good content will naturally attract incoming links, but the webmaster still needs to pay attention to industry trends, shifting in keywords, and new technology (how many SEO people 2 years ago would think of setting up a profile in MySpace?) The ongoing effort for SEO cannot be underestimated.

The fact is that SEO and PPC are complementary to each other, and they both require ongoing efforts. As mentioned in the last paragraph, SEO, when done right, generates traffic for the long run; PPC, when done right, generates traffic for the short run. Based on this, if a company can only choose one, it should go with SEO. Why? Because SEO brings in free traffic! “But it requires time and resources to do SEO, so it’s not really free!” one might argue. True, but it takes time and resources to do PPC as well, so the two are even in this respect. One error I’ve seen people make is that they think all they should do to get traffic from search engines is to start an PPC campaign. To those people I say “STOP!” Indeed, I cringe every time I see someone investing in PPC without first look into SEO. After all, the goal for both activities is the same — to generate traffic. If you can get your traffic for free, why not try it first?

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