Search engine optimization (SEO), of course, is all about driving a growing volume of natural search volume to your site by creating and publishing compelling, relevant content.

It’s free traffic in that you don’t have to pay for the click, but it’s a lot of work to create the quantity and quality of content necessary to drive meaningful traffic growth.

That traffic bump also isn’t immediate, as Google needs recognize, appreciate and index your content first.

Paid search (often referred to as Pay Per Click or PPC) is immediate. Buy keywords today, get traffic today. But it can be crowded, incredibly expensive, and it doesn’t scale well over time.

But if you want a higher-performing SEO program, you actually want to start with PPC. Why? Because traffic isn’t the end goal. Conversion is. And because you don’t have infinite resources to create content and SEO value for every possible keyword (nor would you do them all at once anyway), the immediate data from PPC can tell you not only which keywords drive the best click performance but also the highest conversion on your destination or landing page.

Google may create a visual distinction between paid and natural links (which some consumers still don’t understand or discriminate based on), but keywords are keywords. The intent of the searcher is exactly the same.

Starting with a tight PPC test of your SEO keyword priorities might cost a little money, but in the long run you can quickly convert that investment into more clicks and higher conversions from your SEO efforts.