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SEO Vs PPC: Which Should You Be Using? 

 December 17, 2020

By  Evan Roberts

Question: What is the difference between SEO and PPC?

Answer: In short, SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a method used to increase your ranking in search engines without paying the search engines. PPC, on the other hand, is pay-per-click advertising, where you’re literally paying a search engine for clicks resulting from the placement of your website in the “Ads” section in search results.

For newcomers digital marketing strategies can be confusing and they often ask themselves with all the choices available, which of these methods will work best for my business? Will it give me a better ROI (return of investment)from social media marketing or pay-per-click advertising via Google Ads?

“Which is better: SEO or PPC?” This question pops up every now and then and the answer to this question depends on several factors like; client’s product, budget and their goals.

We’re going to discuss how these two SEM strategies differ. It is important to know the pros and cons of these strategies even if you are with an SEO agency in order to make a custom campaign.

A Brief Introduction to SEO

If you’ve read posts about SEO or SEM strategies, then you may have a good understanding of what SEO entails. Search engine optimization requires the applications of several strategies all together like keyword research, website optimization, content development and link building to name a few. All of these strategies are used to increase your website’s organic traffic and search rankings. These SEO campaigns are centered around a good content marketing strategy. You will have more traffic, better rankings and increased sales if your website has helpful content and provides your users with a great experience. In the long run a successful SEO campaign will provide a reliable inbound lead flow.

A Brief Introduction to PPC

PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising are ads that are regularly shown when you conduct a search query in Google, though most of the time you won’t notice their presence. You can see these ads both up above and down below organic search results. Google gives them priority if they are displayed above the local map pack during local searches. And these PPC or pay-per-click ads are Google’s primary source of revenue. They’re called pay-per-click ads since an advertiser is charged each time an ad gets clicked on by the user. Using PPC, you are trying to get traffic to your website by paid listings that improves your website’s visibility. The only way to guarantee a page one Google search results is through PPC ads. And if you are doing it right, or your digital marketing firm, you can fine-tune these PPC ads until the desired positive ROI is achieved.

Examining the Pros and Cons of SEO

Due to the complexity of the search engine optimization process, it would take time to perform a successful SEO campaign. This can be a disadvantage if your business needs a short time to launch or you need a quick boost in traffic. Though SEO can result in lasting, long-term traffic, some companies are not patient enough to see these kinds of results. In order to build organic traffic through SEO, it would cost your business time for example it would take three to six months in order to get onto page one for highly competitive keywords. Aside from that, the algorithm and search guidelines on Google are always changing, which means your fate is in the hands of  the latest Google update.

Why are SEO services still popular if they are time-consuming and offer no guarantees? This is because if a company is after generating organic online traffic then an SEO service is essential in the long-term success. Most customers utilize Google to find businesses nowadays and without your business on the first page of Google, you will lose out on profitable lead sources. If you want customers to find you in our modern time you need to utilize Google and in order to make the most out of it you need an SEO strategy.

Examining the Pros and Cons of PPC

Even when done right, SEO optimization doesn’t guarantee that your business will be featured on the first page of the search results. But with PPC you can be certain that the page one of the key results will frequently highlight you. This means that you will immediately generate leads but as mentioned earlier it can be costly. And web design along with user experience must go hand-in-hand in order to convert those leads into sales. In addition to that most of the internet users ignore these paid advertisements. But even with the PPC ads in Google search results are not that visible as the banners or sidebar ads on websites, there is still a good chance that a knowledgeable web user won’t click on your ad unless your ad really interests them.

With that said, small firms or startups will have an easier way when using PPC to get noticed especially if they are having trouble launching their SEO efforts. PPC is also more scalable vs SEO since it doesn’t affect the user experience. But if you decide to discontinue this marketing strategy, your leads will plummet immediately. While with SEO your website will remain optimized but several practices must be involved.

How to Choose Between SEO and PPC

Both of these Search Engine Marketing strategies, SEO and PPC, are intended to bring traffic to your website. If you are new to these strategies, you might question which will bring better results for your business. Your questions might be clarified when you answer these questions.

How big is your budget?
Your budget plays a big role in Search Engine Marketing, especially in choosing which strategy that you want to use. If you are willing to spend a certain amount daily on advertising, then go for PPC. This is also applicable if you are able to experiment with a larger budget for a short period of time. But if you can only spend a small amount per month on marketing, SEO will be the more cost-effective option. This is true especially if you are running businesses like a law firm, technology company, or insurance firm. These types of businesses are known for very expensive pay-per-click ads. If you don’t have a certain amount of budget around $5,000 per month or more, then SEO is your best bet.

Can you wait to see results? 
It is without question that when it comes to immediate results PPC is the one to go for compared to SEO since it takes more time. You may not get results right away with SEO but it is supposed to work with an organic strategy, so don’t blame your SEO agency if you don’t get results right away. You have trust in their capabilities (provided that they are a well-regarded firm) and have patience. But if you want or need immediate and guaranteed results, given also that your budget can handle it, then PPC is the good way to go.

What’s your average revenue per customer?
This is where PPC has the upper hand vs SEO, your calculations for your ROI are precise when using PPC. Google Ads will show you exactly how much you spent when acquiring your leads, which enables you to calculate your cost-per-acquisition. But not all products and services are compatible for PPC ads. For example, you are selling an inexpensive item that costs around $20 but each time someone clicks on your ad, Google charges you $2. Even if you are closing one out of every ten leads, you will still lose money from your advertising campaign. On the contrary, if you are selling expensive items like electronics and generate $2,00 per sale, you can get a very high ROI with those same $2 clicks.

Do you want targeted or time-sensitive leads?
One of the main differences between SEO and PPC is that PPC ads enable you to have specific demographics. You can choose the age range, location, gender, level of education, or even an income bracket to ensure your ads are accessed by the right people. With this you can also focus on limited time offers, seasonal promotions and other time sensitive information.

Due to the fact that it takes time for SEO to show results, SEO is not ideal for those uses. SEO does not discriminate; though local SEO is a good way to reach out to web users in your vicinity, you are not able to specify it by demographics. If what you are after is to mass appeal to people in your area and aren’t concerned about time-sensitive promotions then you should focus on SEO instead of using expensive PPC ads. But if you really want to target specific customers or want to drive traffic in time for a particular offer, PPC may be better.

Would you rather increase your site’s value or dominate a keyword?
It is entirely possible to generate a lot of traffic for one or two organic keywords as you improve your SEO. But this is not as easy to see marked results on these keywords immediately especially if there are several businesses that are currently ranking on those competitive keywords. While with PPC, your results for your keyword will be placed above all organic rankings for that keyword, hence it will be prioritized.

Even though your result will be assigned as an ad, most of the users will actually see you first. You are giving up a lot of traffic to other businesses that are actually utilizing PPC ads. When there is no improvement on a significant keyword through SEO efforts, you may want to consider PPC. However, PPC will have no effect on improving your site’s overall value or authority. You can spend time improving your site instead of spending your budget on marketing your web property and gathering traffic in order to convert leads into customers.

One Last Note on SEO Vs. PPC…

As a tip, you really don’t have to choose between these two Search Engine Marketing campaigns. As a matter of fact you can use both methods to make your digital marketing strategy more effective. A diversified strategy will usually provide better results. In this way, you will not be placing all your digital bets on one card. If you improve your SEO and spend a bit of your budget on Google Ads, you can control the results of your campaign. Utilize PPC ads to generate leads immediately while you wait for your SEO campaign to yield results.

And as expected, most of the businesses out there are not equipped to execute this strategy on their own. This is where your Raleigh SEO company comes in. We are here to find out more about how we can help you in creating an effective and efficient search engine marketing strategy to satisfy your company’s needs. Contact us today if you can’t decide between SEO or PPC, let the expertise of our team help you craft a custom digital marketing strategy that is aligned with your budget.

Evan Roberts


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