“Which is better: SEO or PPC?”

We’ve heard it a million times before and we’re certain we’ll hear it a million times more. It’s not always clear as to which digital marketing method suits your business best, not to mention a lot of people don’t know what they actually are, but in short, it all comes down to your current situation, objectives and marketplace. The key is not to choosing either/or but to understand in more depth your prospective customers and how they use the web. This is the best way to determine whether paid search, organic search or a combination of both is the best approach for your brand.

The main thing to consider is that SEO generates organic traffic, whereas PPC generates paid traffic. Let’s look at this in a little more detail…

SEO: Organic Traffic

“Search Engine Optimisation is the process of maximising the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine”

  • Visibility in search engines for your targeted keywords puts your business in front of potential customers in the same way as if you were to advertise & it drives brand awareness
  • Many users skip ads and trust organic results more highly Being visible gives your business that all important seal of approval.
  • Increasing website traffic provides you with more opportunities to drive awareness of your business and educate a prospect as to why they would buy from you.
  • Traffic from organic search is free… sort of. Developing that visibility will take time and effort, but there is not a direct charge for each impression or click.
  • Organic search engine traffic can provide an improved ROI over traditional forms of paid media and certainly improve upon PPC.
  • While SEO is neither cheap nor easy, it will generally be more cost-effective than all other marketing tactics for delivering brand awareness and relevant traffic to your website.
  • Unlike paid search marketing, such as PPC, organic traffic does not dry up the moment you stop paying.
  • You will generate more clicks from a highly placed organic listing than from a highly placed paid ad.
  • Once you have established yourself in the organic results, your competitors simply can’t buy their way in (obviously assuming you have done things the right way).

Main Points To Consider:

  • No budget needed
  • Takes time to generate ROI
  • Longevity of organic traffic guaranteed
  • Lots of people choose organic over adverts when browsing
  • Most cost-effective form of digital marketing

PPC: Paid Traffic

“Pay-Per-Click is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner) when the advert is clicked”

  • Paid search dominates organic content, typically with four ads on desktop and three on mobile, a user will always see the paid search ads.
  • Where you sell a product, Google provides the option of visual shopping ads (Product Listing Ads, or PLAs) that can help a user see what they will be clicking on. This kind of ad can really improve the click-through rate by offering a feature not available in organic search.
  • Running paid search advertisements gets you seen by the right people.
  • If your brand is part of a highly competitive marketplace, you will need a significant amount of budget to generate a strong ROI
  • PPC allows for a tight control of budget. Determine how much you are willing to spend per day (ideally with some initial and ideal ideas of returns), and set that fixed limit.
  • Ads can be targeted by search keywords, time of day, day of the week, geography, language, device and audiences based on previous visits.
  • A PPC campaign can be created in days and ramped up in weeks. There is no faster way to get in front of customers at the very moment they are primed to buy than paid search engine advertising.
  • You can get rapid feedback on a new product launch (or minimum viable product) by running a short PPC ad campaign.
  • Easily split-test ads, landing pages, and even call-to-action buttons to determine where the very best results lie.

Main Points To Consider:

  • PPC advertising can be expensive
  • If you’re in a competitive marketplace, you need a massive budget to guarantee ROI
  • PPC requires constant investment of resources
  • PPC needs skilled management and optimisation
  • Quick turnaround and almost instantaneous results

SEO or PPC? Or SEO and PPC?

In an ideal world, you would look at using both SEO and PPC. They both have pros and cons – as with anything – and work best when supporting each other. Where you can get SEO and PPC working together, you will often be able to drive results that are greater than their component parts.

The benefits of running SEO and PPC together include:

  • Keyword and conversion data from PPC can be fed into organic search (SEO).
  • The total volume of traffic can be increased by targeting clicks in paid and organic for high-performing keywords.
  • High-cost keywords, high-volume or low-converting (yet still important) keywords can be moved from PPC to organic search.
  • A/B testing of ad copy and landing pages can be fed into your organic listing and landing pages.
  • Remarketing allows you to stay in front of visitors after an initial touch via organic search and customize messaging around their engagement with your site.
  • Test your keyword strategy in PPC before committing to long-term SEO strategies.
  • Target users at all stages of the customer journey from research to comparison to purchase with commercial keywords.
  • Increase confidence and awareness by having both strong organic and paid visibility.

In our experience with hundreds of businesses, an integrated search strategy that looks at both SEO and PPC is the optimal approach. Results are improved in each channel by utilising both paid and organic. This will not be right for every business, but for high-growth, aggressive marketing, you will want to develop a strong search engine strategy rather than look at SEO or PPC individually.

Don’t forget, we manage both SEO and PPC for different businesses so if you need any advice or need a nudge in the right direction, drop us a line.