SEO vs PPC: Which strategy should you be using for your business?
When it comes to choosing a digital marketing strategy for your business, you will find that SEO vs PPC is widely discussed.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The best strategy for your business will depend on the results you want to see, your current position and your market.
Is it better to buy your way to the top of the search results with PPC advertising? Or is it better to gradually build your rankings and authority through SEO? Deciding on where to spend your digital marketing budget can be difficult. And, making sure you get the most from your budget can be even harder.
Whether you invest in SEO or PPC, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine so it’s important to make sure your brand appears, whether it’s organically or paid for.
To make the decision between each channel, it’s important to understand how each one works, including the pros and cons. Let’s have a look at the SEO vs PPC debate in more detail.
Click the links below to jump to the sections within this blog post:
- What is SEO?
- Pros & Cons of SEO
- What is PPC?
- Pros & Cons of PPC
- Is SEO vs PPC: which should you choose?
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), involves driving organic traffic to your website or landing pages. If you run a search on Google, the organic listings are those below the paid ads and shopping ads.
64% of all clicks in the search engine results pages (SERPs) were captured by organic listings. This means that over half of the people who type a query into the search bar are more likely to click on an organic listing than a paid ad. So, if you can appear in the search results for your chosen keywords, you’re more likely to drive valuable traffic to your website.
When it comes to SEO, your ranking position is determined by a variety of factors – there are actually over 200 ranking factors that influence how Google ranks your site. It’s important to note that SEO is an ongoing process that requires modifications and improvements to your website to help it appear in the organic listings.
You can find out more about what SEO is and how it can help your business in more detail by reading our guide.
Pros of SEO
Building an effective SEO strategy for your business provides a number of benefits:
SEO provides you with a chance to target and reach potential customers without having to dip into your marketing budget or pay every time someone clicks on your website.
With SEO, you can target the customers who are actively searching for your products or services instead of you having to find new customers for your business.
Long term benefits
Once you have implemented SEO best practices for your website, completed keyword research and created high quality content with strong links, the results will continue to pay off over the long term.
The return on investment for SEO continues over time as your content continues to rank and drive traffic to your website or landing pages. In contrast, PPC advertising stops as soon as your budget stops. A good piece of content or a high ranking website can continue to drive relevant traffic and sales for your business for years to come.
Once you achieve strong rankings, your business will show to potential customers at all times of the day. PPC ads will stop displaying when your marketing budget runs out or when you choose to turn them off at less cost-effective times of the day.
Target all stages of the funnel
SEO allows you to understand what customers are searching for across the full funnel and create content accordingly. When you’re running ads, you’re more likely to spend your budget on the bottom or middle of the funnel search terms to make sure your ads convert as quickly as possible and maximise your return on investment.
With SEO, you can focus on all aspects of the funnel to drive traffic at various stages of the buying cycle without having to pay for clicks.
Organic search is more stable
If you optimise your site in the right way and create the right type of content, your rankings should stay consistent as long as you keep updating your website and staying on top of best practice.
With SEO, there is no on or off switch. This is unlike PPC advertising where your website will no longer appear in the search results when you stop paying for the ads.
Build authority and trust
Appearing in the search results with relevant content that ranks well in the search results will help you to build your reputation as a trusted source within your industry with your customers. In addition, it helps to signal to Google that you are an authoritative source and will help you to rank even higher.
Helps to build a more user friendly website
When you optimise your website and its content for SEO and follow best practice, you also help to improve the usability of your site, making it easier for visitors to navigate your website, find what they need and convert.
Cons of SEO
While SEO offers a wide range of benefits for your business, it can have a few downsides that should be considered when building your digital marketing strategy and thinking about whether you should invest in SEO.
SEO takes time to work
PPC offers instant results. On the other hand, it can take anywhere between a month to three months to start seeing an increase in SEO rankings or traffic. If you don’t want to pay an agency or an expert to optimise your site, research your market, keywords, build a content strategy and write optimised content and web pages, you will need to take this on yourself.
This means you could put a huge amount of work in over a series of months without an instant payoff.
An ongoing process
Now you know it can take time to get your SEO efforts off the ground, it’s also important to know that it is an ongoing process. To rank as highly as possible, you will need to make tweaks and improvements to your site and content which will never be fully optimised.
From creating new content to link building and making sure your website complies with the latest SEO best practices, there will always be work to do.
Search engine algorithms can change
Google is constantly changing its algorithms to provide the best results to its users and to keep up with changes in the search landscape. These changes mean that you will have to keep an eye on your marketing strategy and your rankings to make sure they’re optimised for any slight or major algorithm changes and to ensure your rankings aren’t affected too much.
Requires high level skills and expertise
If you’ve never created an SEO strategy before, knowing where to start can be difficult. At the very least, you will require someone who is an SEO expert and can advise you on optimising your site, as well as someone who can create high quality content.
If you’d like to know more about using a team who can ensure you get results from SEO, please get in touch.
What is PPC?
Understanding how PPC works is the best way to begin to understand the benefits it can bring to your business.
PPC advertising (Pay Per Click or Paid Search) is a service provided by search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo that you pay for in order to display text ads or shopping ads at the top of the SERPs. You are charged a fee when someone clicks on your ad.
Google Ads now encompasses a range of different ads that you can use to target customers across a number of websites and stages in your customer’s buying journey. Google ranks your PPC ads based on how much you bid on your keywords, the overall quality score of your ads and the landing pages you link to.
SEO provides free clicks to your website. However, with PPC, you pay for clicks so it’s very common to spend hundreds of pounds to drive visitors to your website.
So, if you want immediate clicks to your website, PPC is a short term option as, once your Google Ads are approved, you will start to show on the first page of the results.
Find out more about how PPC can help your business.
Pros of PPC
Similarly to SEO, PPC provides a huge number of benefits for your business.
Provides maximum visibility in the search results
PPC campaigns put your business at the top of the search results so that potential customers will see your brand before they see your competitors. You can make sure you appear above other brands in the SERPs by bidding competitively on any keywords that are relevant to your target customers.
Provides immediate results
PPC will start driving traffic as soon as your campaigns are approved. This means that it works much faster than SEO but this does not make it a long-term solution. Once you stop the spend, your ads will no longer appear in the results. However, PPC ads are perfect for special promotions or events that you need to promote but you can’t plan in advance to get them to drive organic traffic.
Gives you control
When setting up your PPC ads, you can control the page that your visitors land on when they click the ad. This means you can show them the most relevant page to the information displayed in your ad. You can write your own ad copy and test them to find the combination that achieves the best results for your business.
Choose your target audience
When setting up your PPC campaigns, you can choose exactly who you want to target with your ads. You can choose to target people in a specific geographical area, those of a certain age, by marital status and by interests. Targeting in this way allows you to pinpoint the people who will be most interested in your product or service and those who are more likely to convert on your website.
Provides additional data
Running PPC ads gives you access to a wealth of data. You’ll find out more about the ads that your customers are clicking on before they make a purchase and the keywords they’ve used to get there, as well as the ads that do not work. This will allow you to make changes to your campaigns to optimise it and improve your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
Cons of PPC
Alongside its benefits, PPC also has a few disadvantages that you should consider when choosing between PPC or SEO for your business.
Requires constant investment
Once you set PPC campaigns up, you will need to keep paying for them to make them appear. Once your budget runs out, the ads stop. It can take time to build up a decent quality score which means PPC can cost more initially until you have fully optimised your ads.
The more you invest, the better your results will be in terms of clicks and conversions. When analysing the performance of your PPC ads, it’s important to look at the conversion rate. Driving lots of clicks without getting conversions will mean you’re not getting the most from your budget.
Can put some users off
Many searchers do not like ads. They don’t trust them or do not know what they are so will scroll past them to get to the organic results. PPC ads are tagged with an ad marker and placed at the top of the search results so that searchers know what they’re looking at.
Takes time to get right
It can take research and practice to get your PPC ads right. This can cost budget and clicks until you get the optimisation such as the targeting or your ad copy right. You may find that employing a professional who can ensure your ads are properly optimised can help deliver better return on investment.
SEO vs PPC: Which should you choose?
As you can see, SEO and PPC offer their own benefits and downsides. If you’re only going to choose one, many marketers will recommend that you invest in SEO. This is because it’s a cost-effective way to drive long-term traffic and revenue.
If you have the available marketing budget, you will find that PPC and SEO work better when used together. Using both strategies alongside each other provides you with the strengths of both.
How do SEO and PPC work together?
The benefits of undertaking an SEO and PPC strategy together include:
- Use the keyword and conversion data from PPC to feed your SEO strategy
- You can increase the total volume of traffic to your website by targeting high performing keywords for both
- You can move high cost keywords, high volume or low converting keywords from your PPC campaign to your SEO campaign
- Use remarketing to stay front of mind with site visitors once they have landed on your site as organic traffic
- Target users at all stages of the customer journey
When it comes to SEO vs PPC, both strategies can offer great returns for your business. When used together in the right way, SEO and PPC complement each other. The strategies work in tandem to ensure your business is found in the right places.
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