A fun debate is brewing at Search Engine Watch Forums on a controversial DMNews article by David Pasternack named Troubled times for SEO firms from yesterday. David has three points, all making a case for PPC being more challenging than SEO. Here are the three main points:
1. Marketers Are Discovering That SEO Isn't Rocket Science
2. Marketers Are Realizing That SEO is a "Fix-it-Once" Task, not an Ongoing Service
3. Marketers Are Wary of Pushing the SEO Envelope
Now, let's look at each point:
(1) SEO isn't rocket science, but neither is PPC. I do not want to take away from either. There are some very smart SEOs that can really do wonders, but SEO as a whole is not rocket science. PPC isn't rocket science, same deal - if you know PPC like Kevin Lee from Did-It, you can try to make it into rocket science and deploy all these fun statistical models (same can be done with SEO) and run with them. But PPC is not rocket science either.
(2) I think he may be confusing "search engine friendly design" with SEO as a whole. SEO includes "search engine friendly design" and I am a strong believer that search engine friendly design can be achieved through a build it once strategy. Build a solid frame work, and you are set with that. You have your title tags, meta data, body content and site architecture all set out from ground up.
But it doesn't mean you do not have to continually work! You have to add content often, you have to get links, you have to get good press and do the whole social thing to rank well over time.
And the same thing goes with PPC. You must have a good framework to build off of. This way you can run your campaigns, make changes, track those changes and continue. But without a solid framework, making changes to a campaign can be cumbersome.
PPC is just immediate. You pay, you get traffic, you convert - or you hope that is the case. SEO takes time and you normally do not see immediate ranking results from any one thing right away.
(3) I can't say anything about this. This goes to a person's personality and type. You don't have to "push the envelope," you just need to spend time and resources to make your site the best. If you don't, then you may want to get risky.
Some really great forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums.