Many businesses that are just dipping their toe in the waters of digital marketing often start with the question of ‘which is better, SEO or PPC?’. Unfortunately, there isn’t a general, overarching answer to this question as it is incredibly subjective. The current situation of your business, your goals and objectives, your target market, and industry will all influence your digital marketing strategy.
Both have their advantages, but it all comes back to your strategy. Clearly understanding your audience and how they explore the digital world will be key to deciding whether paid search, organic search, or a mix of the two is the best approach for your business.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of improving the quality of a website to get it picked up by search engines and ranked highly for people to click on when conducting a search query for products or services related to a business. So, the more visible your pages are in search engine results (such as on Google, Bing, etc) the more likely you are to attract the attention of prospective customers to your website and increase conversion rates overall.
What are the benefits of SEO?
Boosts authority and credibility
A website that ranks highly on Google is normally regarded as high-quality and trustworthy by the search engine. This in turn, increases the credibility and authority of your business in the minds of your audience. By taking some time to improve and add content to your site (e.g., blog posts and web page content), increase the speed, add internal links, and implement researched and relevant keywords as well as other SEO techniques, you can encourage your site to rank higher.
It’s inexpensive to do
Unlike PPC, SEO services don’t cost much to do successfully, it requires time and patience more than money. Search engines will crawl your website 24/7, highlighting useful content and helping you to organically find new customers.
To make the most of your efforts in optimising your website, allocate some time to review your competitors and see if there’s anything they’re doing that is making them more successful at SEO. It can be more of a marathon than a sprint to see good results from SEO, but once the foundation is there, you’re sure to see impressive results from it.
It supports content marketing
SEO and original content go hand in hand, by producing helpful content for users, such as text, images, and videos, your website will rank better in search results. Not only that, but SEO can also support your efforts relating to content marketing too. Ensure your content is written to a high standard and well-optimised for the main keywords you want to rank for, and it is more likely to generate organic traffic.
It allows you to reach more people
Whilst many marketing campaigns will often focus on one defined target audience, SEO can attract anyone at any given moment, no matter where they are in the buying funnel. If you target keywords instead of demographics like you might with PPC or social media advertising, you can reach more prospects who could be interested in you.
It helps you rank better in local searches
Local searches, for example, “plumbers near me” have grown massively in recent years. Recent studies have shown that almost 80% of local searches on mobile devices lead to conversions. SEO strategies based on location can be extremely effective in attracting searchers who are pretty much ready to buy.
What is PPC?
PPC stands for pay-per-click, it’s an advertising model where businesses pay a fee every time one of their display ads is clicked on. In essence, it is a way of buying visits to your website in contrast to SEO which attempts to earn visitors naturally.
Search engine advertising is one of the most common and popular methods of PPC. This is because it enables advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links when a user searches a keyword that is related to what the website and business is offering.
Every time an ad is clicked and sends a visitor to a website, the advertiser/business has to pay the search engine a small fee. When a PPC campaign is working as it should be, the fee you pay is irrelevant because the visit to your website is worth much more.
What are the benefits of PPC?
It contributes to business goals
Often this is one of the most compelling reasons to use PPC advertising. PPC can help you to achieve a wide range of business and marketing goals. These goals could span from high-level brand exposure to a promising lead submission or ecommerce sale. Almost any form of goal conversion can be tracked, making PPC an invaluable tool for aligning website traffic drivers towards end-goals.
It’s easy to measure and track
A key advantage to PPC that is run through Google Ads is how easy it is to measure and track. This can be done by using the Google Ads tool on conjunction with Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see high-level performance details, such as impressions, clicks, and conversions (depending on your defined business goals).
There’s no uncertainty when it comes to PPC. The data is always readily available and will show you how your campaigns are performing as well as the type of traffic and results they will get for your budget. Also, you’re able to do more with call tracking and see your PPC efforts paying off more clearly than you can in SEO.
Quick entry and turnaround on results
Even if you’ve never done it before and you’re well behind your competitors, it’s quick and easy to get up and running with PPC, and it will only need a small amount of optimisation. This is a major difference between PPC and SEO, as the latter typically takes a lot of time and effort to reach the same position and traffic that Google Ads can offer within minutes of launching.
If you need to get leads quickly in the short term and are willing to spend money to do so, a PPC ads campaign could be the right fit for you.
You have full control
Despite there being many nuances involved when it comes to default campaign settings, ultimately you have control over a broad range of options for reaching your target audience. This begins with the keywords or placements you decide to target and how restrictive you want to be.
Additionally, you can be flexible with your budget if you want to start small. There is the option to set your own, specifically chosen ad budget and bids and have control over what you’re willing to spend (although you’ll have to pay at least close to market rate to be successful in many cases).
Impressive targeting options
A lot of advertisers use a multi-layered approach in Google Ads to test and make sure there is complete coverage across the targeting types and networks that can earn brand exposure. This can involve targeting keywords with text ads, running ads through remarketing based on past behaviours, or focusing on certain audience demographics on the display network.
It is only by trying out different options that you can make sure you’re leveraging the full scope of Google Ads, and that you’re getting as many impressions as possible whilst remaining targeted to the personas within your prospective audience.
Does PPC help SEO?
In short yes, and vice versa too. Often, it’s less of a question of SEO vs PPC and more of SEO and PPC. They can work very well separately if there’s one that is better suited to a business than the other, but they also work fantastically well when used together. PPC helps your website to appear at the top of paid search results, while SEO will do the same thing organically.
If you have both results showing at the top of a search results page your brand’s reputation and credibility will be significantly boosted and proves that you’re not just throwing money at advertising to get on top. Your SEO tactics can be used to help your PPC campaigns. For instance, a high-ranking page could perform even better if it is used as part of PPC advertising, particularly if the main keyword has a low cost-per-click.
That’s not to say they don’t have their differences, the main one being the speed in which the campaigns can be created, optimised, and deliver results. It’s these differences that could mean you want to focus on one strategy over the other, but you could still focus more on one initially and have the other in place too and see how it performs, the results might surprise you.
The final verdict
Have you decided on SEO or PPC for your marketing strategy yet? Before you do, it would be helpful to define your goals and weigh up which option suits your needs best. For example, if you want to generate leads quickly, then PPC is probably right for you. Whereas if your aim is to improve your online presence long term, SEO might be the preferred choice.
As an experienced SEO and PPC agency we tend to find that an integrated strategy that considers both marketing methods is the optimal approach. Results in each channel are improved by using both paid and organic. Keep in mind this won’t be right for every business, however, for high-growth, successful marketing, you’ll want to have a holistic search engine strategy rather than pursuing SEO or PPC separately.
Contact us today to discuss your digital marketing needs. We can provide a free audit of your website as an initial introduction to where your business marketing is and where you want it to go.