Original Research

Comparative case study on website traffic generated by search engine optimisation and a pay-per-click campaign, versus marketing expenditure

Wouter T. Kritzinger, Melius Weideman
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 17, No 1 | a651 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v17i1.651 | © 2015 Wouter T. Kritzinger, Melius Weideman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 December 2014 | Published: 22 September 2015

About the author(s)

Wouter T. Kritzinger, Website Attributes Research Centre (WARC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
Melius Weideman, Website Attributes Research Centre (WARC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa

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Background: No empirical work was found on how marketing expenses compare when used solely for either the one or the other of the two main types of search engine marketing.

Objectives: This research set out to determine how the results of the implementation of a pay-per-click campaign compared to those of a search engine optimisation campaign, given the same website and environment. At the same time, the expenses incurred on both these marketing methods were recorded and compared.

Method: The active website of an existing, successful e-commerce concern was used as platform. The company had been using pay-per-click only for a period, whilst traffic was monitored. This system was decommissioned on a particular date and time, and an alternative search engine optimisation system was started at the same time. Again, both traffic and expenses were monitored.

Results: The results indicate that the pay-per-click system did produce favourable results, but on the condition that a monthly fee has to be set aside to guarantee consistent traffic. The implementation of search engine optimisation required a relatively large investment at the outset, but it was once-off. After a drop in traffic owing to crawler visitation delays, the website traffic bypassed the average figure achieved during the pay-per-click period after a little over three months, whilst the expenditure crossed over after just six months.

Conclusion: Whilst considering the specific parameters of this study, an investment in search engine optimisation rather than a pay-per-click campaign appears to produce better results at a lower cost, after a given period of time.

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