Article Marketing or Pay Per Click: Which Is Best?

Article marketing and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising are the two main methods of online marketing. Both are dependent on strong keywords and dispersal to be most effective in driving traffic to your site.

What is Article Marketing?

Article marketing is the principle of contributing content to article directories which then links back to your website. It also includes guest blogging. These articles create back links to your site, which helps to boost your ranking in search engines.

The keywords you include will also affect your search engine ranking. Including strong keywords in your title, first paragraph, and last paragraph is most effective. However, you should always write for entertaining, informative, and readable content over keywords.

Articles should be about topics related to your website and should provide the reader with some information that he or she didn’t know. It should also make them want to click through the link to your page. Leave them wanting just a little bit more than you’ve told them, and include a clear call to action.

What is PPC?

In pay-per-click, you sponsor a link at a search engine and pay a fee to the provider every time your link is clicked. Sponsored links are clearly labeled for the purposes of full disclosure.The best known provider of PPC is Google AdWords, though Bing Adcenter (a Yahoo! and Microsoft joint venture) is also popular.

The downside to PPC is that the top keywords are often fairly expensive. This is because competition is high, and the usual bid model drives up the price. Everyone who wants to purchase a certain keyword places a bid for how much they are willing to pay. Then, when someone searches for that word, the highest bid wins and that advertiser is displayed. Often, multiple ad spots are available. In this case, they are displayed in the order from highest bidder down.

This makes choosing the right balance of keywords and cost something of an art. It requires you to be very attentive to your analytics so you can drop the keywords which just aren’t bringing in revenue.

PPC ads appear not only on search engines, but on third-party websites which have partnered with the PPC provider. These are called contextual ads because the ads which are displayed are chosen on the basis of relevance to the site, according to keyword similarity. So, for example, a horse stable’s website might display ads for tack or veterinary equipment.


PPC effectiveness is fairly easy to track. By adding code to your URLs, you can easily see the conversion rates – that is, the number of people who click your ad who become customers or regular visitors – for each campaign, keyword, and specific ad copy. Google AdWords provides you with many tools to help you track your PPC, and your blogging platform may do so as well.

It’s a good idea to create discrete campaigns for each keyword for this reason. That way, you will be able to compare the effectiveness of each keyword on its own. To evaluate your ad copy, create at least two ads for each keyword. If one performs particularly well or particularly poorly, you should be able to figure out what the difference is.

Regularly check your analytics so you aren’t wasting money. You can tweak your current ads or create new ones to make them stronger, based on your feedback.

Articles of 400 to 600 words, broken into short paragraphs, have been found to be most effective. They’re easy to get through and deliver the information concisely without a lot of filler.

Another thing about articles that can’t be said of PPC is that your readers have the ability to share what they find interesting, either by linking to social media or emailing to others. As advertising for your site, this is some of the best, because it comes with a personal recommendation. You are seen as a professional, trusted source, which builds loyalty and reputation, both of which are essential for online marketing.

This is why compelling content and saying something new is so important. It’s why you have to keep in mind your human readers and not just keywords and positioning.

Cost and Return on Investment

Article marketing is essentially cost-free to you, unless you pay someone to write for you.PPC, especially for top keywords, can become pricey. You need to set yourself a firm budget and stick to it. To calculate your return on investment (ROI) for PPC, consider your profit margin, sales volume, and conversion rate.

Profit margin is the amount that you make from each sale after costs have been covered. If you’re not selling a product but using advertising on your site to generate income, then consider the cost of the advertising relative to how much you earn from each ad.

Conversion rate was defined above.

Now look at the formula:

(Number of sales x profit in dollars) / number of visitors = dollar value of each visitor

This is your maximum cost per click which you should not exceed or you will end up losing money on the deal.

Calculating ROI on article marketing is a bit trickier, though you could say that since your investment is essentially zero, even one conversion is a positive ROI. But if you think more about it being your time spent writing and distributing articles, then you can see it’s still important to calculate and evaluate.

Review your analytics to see which articles are sending you the most traffic and which are sending the least. Now, you need to look for characteristics which may account for the discrepancy. For example, articles with a strong call to action at the end may be outperforming those which simply taper off.

And, as always, the quality of the content is the most relevant factor.


This is another area in which article marketing pulls ahead. Articles can remain relevant for a long time, years in some cases. This doesn’t mean that you only have to put up articles once and then sit back while the hits rolls in. you definitely need to continually put out fresh content.

However, if you’ve got a really quality piece, people will continue to find value in it over more recently composed but less informative or poorly written material.


Ultimately, the determination of whether article marketing or PPC is “better” will come down to your unique situation. For most people, the factors of longevity and return on investment give the edge to article marketing. Many people use both as elements of a well-rounded marketing campaign.

Evaluate your analytics regularly to help you refine and narrow your strategies, throwing more effort into the areas which are bringing you the most traffic, conversion, and financial rewards.

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