When it comes to your digital marketing dollars, you may wonder which route is better to take, SEO or PPC. You can get to the top of search engines through a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign or create a more natural search engine marketing strategy through search engine optimization (SEO).
Is there a right or wrong answer? Could it be both? Before you decide, you have to understand the pros and the cons of both SEO and PPC.
SEO / Search Engine Optimization
What is SEO?
When you hear people talking about SEO or search engine optimization, they’re talking about optimizing your web pages to get them to rank higher in search engine results. Organic SEO consists of making sure the search engine spiders can understand what is on your web pages so that, ideally, they’ll rank your site higher than your competitors.
While Google may change its algorithms from time to time which could change your rankings, SEO always comes down to providing a website that properly explains what the business does and provides helpful content to both human visitors and Google search crawlers. This can involve making sure the website is in good shape by utilizing clean codes and search engine friendly content that appeals to human readers, as well as spiders.
Cultivating inbound links from other sites can dictate your “link authority” and improve your ranking. You may also want to include:
- Social Media Marketing
- Online videos
All of these are also effective ways to acquire quality links.
What are the Advantages of Organic SEO?
- Organic SEO is very cost-effective compared to a PPC campaign. When done correctly, SEO should cost you far less than setting up and managing a PPC campaign.
- Organic SEO is done to last. A properly optimized site can keep a high position in the search results long after a PPC campaign has been turned off.
- Search engine positioning is relatively stable whereas PPC ad positions continuously change according to your competitors’ bidding tactics. A well-optimized site with good link authority and excellent content can hold its search engine position even if you need to step away from it for a month.
- Organic SEO builds credibility and trust. Some users skip ads, so when your site can pop up through organic results, it increases your credibility to an audience that is looking for your services.
- Many times, organic SEO results in an improved click-through rate. Most times you can generate more clicks from a well-placed organic listing rather than an ad that costs a great deal.
What are the Drawbacks to SEO?
- SEO is very slow compared to PPC. It can take months after you optimize your site to start seeing results, whereas PPC will start getting you leads immediately.
- SEO is an ongoing process. Your site will never be 100% “optimized,” it will only get more and more optimized as you put more work into it. The good news is that in the future your rankings will be better and you will hopefully be reaping the rewards of having invested in SEO.
- SEO can be time-consuming, especially if you choose to do it yourself. You have the option to purchase SEO tools or to hire someone to do SEO for you.
PPC / Pay-Per-Click Advertising
What is PPC?
PPC or Pay-Per-Click Advertising is essentially buying visits to your site. Advertisers pay a fee every time someone clicks on one of their ads. PPC allows you to quickly leverage search engine traffic by paying or bidding for keywords related to what you are selling or a service you’re providing.
Advantages of PPC:
- PPC produces quick results. Once your PPC campaign starts, you should immediately start to see more traffic, clicks, and conversions. SEO can take months before you start to see your site moving up the search engine results.
- Your PPC account is controllable. You set your budget and have a decent idea of how many leads you are getting in return. This helps you estimate an accurate budget for your digital marketing. SEO can take longer or require more money if the industry or location you want to rank for is very competitive.
- Using PPC means you don’t have to worry about a search engine’s algorithm impacting your position. You’re bidding on the top spots, so your organic rank isn’t going to matter. With SEO, you have to ensure that you’re optimizing your site to Google’s standards of best practice, or you could lose rank or be penalized for certain tactics.
- PPC allows you to strictly target potential customers. You can target ads using search keywords, geography, and different times of the day and week. With organic traffic, you may not target the specific audience you need.
- With PPC, you can take advantage of visual product ads. This can help a user see what they will be clicking on and improve the click-through rate because it offers a feature an organic search can’t.
Drawbacks of PPC:
- You have to pay to get good results and, ideally, the more you pay, the better the results. The competition for keywords has never been greater. This may mean you’ll have to pay more later for the same results you’ve been getting.
- Researching and selecting effective keywords to bid on is very time-consuming. Managing what you’re spending on keywords, measuring returns, adjusting how much you spend, and intelligently playing the PPC game is basically a full-time job. Either you’ll spend time doing it yourself or you’ll have to hire an experienced PPC specialist who can properly run your campaigns for you.
- PPC is like a faucet: once you turn it off, it stops providing you leads. If you suddenly have to divert your PPC budget to something else, can you survive with the leads that you’re getting naturally? SEO is long-lasting and while it’s never truly done, it’s like a rolling snowball. It takes a while to get going and it may slow down at times, but once it gets the momentum up, there’s no stopping it.
- “Click Fraud” is still a problem as some companies use manual clicks or damaging software that simulates human clicks from different IP addresses around the world. Your competitors can rapidly rack up your click charges. Google can detect some of this fraud but there are ways to evade this detection.
SEO or PPC? or SEO and PPC?
Should you opt for SEO or PPC? The answer really depends on you. If you have the budget and you need to see an immediate impact, then engaging in a PPC campaign will show you the fastest results. But it can still take time and trial and error to get the right ads that convert without overpaying for results.
If you have a longer timeline in mind and don’t need to see immediate results, then SEO efforts can offer some of the best results and return over time. You won’t have to constantly be paying for website traffic and new ads to attract more visitors.
The perfect scenario combines the two efforts. This tends to lead to the best overall outcome. Consider just some of the advantages of using SEO and PPC:
- You can use keyword and conversion data from PPC to SEO.
- After initial contact via an organic search, you can remarket with customized messaging to remain top of mind.
- You can test a keyword strategy in PPC before using it in long-term SEO strategies.
Instead of trying to choose between the two, look for ways to implement both tactics so that you can get the most out of your digital marketing dollars.
Contact the SEO and PPC Experts at TheeDigital
Our professionals have the expertise and knowledge to create a plan that maximizes your budget and produces a positive ROI. We concentrate on your marketing, so you can focus on your business.