Every business that decides to venture into the digital marketing space, eventually ends up asking the question, “Which is better? SEO or PPC?”
And it is a very important question because depending on which method you choose, would eventually decide whether your business is successful online or not.
Some might say that search engine optimization (SEO) is better because when it is done right, it will eventually provide you with more traffic and leads at a lower cost compared to PPC. And that is true. But most businesses want to see results quickly and not wait 6-8 months.
So you see why deciding which digital marketing method to choose is so important?
This all comes down to the types of customers that you’re targeting. How they use the internet to find your products (or your competitor’s products) would give you a better idea of which method to choose.
A combination of both types of advertising would be the best approach. That way, you can get the best of both worlds and might even end up doubling your results in the process. In this post, we are going to go into detail about the pros and cons of SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) so you can know what you’d be getting yourself into.
SEO: Better for Organic Traffic
SEO is best for businesses that rely heavily on organic search traffic. Or businesses that would like to establish their dominance and credibility in a niche.
Let’s start with the pros of SEO:
Credibility & Trust.
Having your website rank #1 for organic results can definitely exert influence upon an audience that is looking for a particular product or service. Many users skip ads and only look at organic results because they trust them more. And being the first brand they see in the organic results can mean good things for your business.
Return on Investment (ROI).
SEO can provide you with a better ROI than the traditional form of advertising and PPC advertising. This is because unlike paid advertising, your campaigns do not stop when you stop spending money. If you do things right, you can keep getting consistent returns with spending a minimal amount of money once your ranking on page 1.
I’ll be the first one to say that SEO is neither cheap nor easy. However, there’s a silver lining between SEO and other marketing tactics. If you’re looking for a better ROI on every dollar you spend, SEO is still the best way to go. But you will have to be patient. And I mean having Zen-like patience because it will be months before you see any tangible results.
This is the biggest advantage of SEO. Every single day new queries are being used to search for things. And this means that you would have more and more keywords to target and potentially get leads from. Not only that, you also won’t need to pay for every single click that you receive from those keywords.
This is another huge advantage you can get if you choose to go the SEO route.
You see, SEO is not easy, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that once you have established yourself in the organic results, your competitors cannot just buyout your spot. This is huge because in other types of marketing, businesses can usually pay more to get a better advertising spot than you.
The bad thing about SEO is again, the slow results. If you are not the patient kind, you will have a very hard time getting results from this method. But if you can slowly get on page 1, it will be worth the time and money you spend.
You will also have to develop content assets to achieve a strong and consistent organic visibility. This cannot be achieved over a weekend. This means that you will have to consistently interact with your audience, provide them with value and share information that will improve their lives.
And that is just one aspect of SEO. You will also have to focus on other tactics such as safe and sustainable link building campaigns which requires its own in-depth strategy. This is where most businesses will require expert support because if they get this wrong, their website would get penalized and the entire campaign would be delayed for another 3-6 months to get back from that penalty.
PPC: Scale Faster, Laser-Targeted Visibility
By now you might be wondering why would anyone choose to go for PPC. Because with SEO, people trust the organic results and it also gets a better ROI. You’re right, but here are the reasons why businesses choose PPC:
Total Control Over Ads.
It’s true, PPC is just ads. But that’s a huge thing because you now have granular control over every aspect of your ad. You can choose everything, from choosing to provide links to different pages on your website, to providing the audience a tap to call button right in the ad. This is not something you can choose with SEO.
Visual Product Ads.
If you have an e-commerce store, Google provides you with an option to have your product images show up as shopping ads. This will help a user see what they will be clicking on. Again, this is not something you get with SEO.
Visibility to the Right People.
With paid advertisements, you can control who sees your ad. This ensures that only the right people are seeing your ad. And even if they don’t end up buying from you, or subscribing to your newsletter, they would at least go back and do a brand search to find out more about your brand before clicking on your website. This will end up paying dividends to your marketing in the long run.
This is a big one. With PPC you can have tight control of your budget. You can decide whether you want to pay $50 per day or a $100 per day on a campaign. This is not something you can do with SEO. With SEO there is no fixed limit. You basically spend what you have to in order to make sure that your website ends up ranking on page 1.
This is where PPC shines. With SEO, it can take months for you to see results. But not with PPC. You can start seeing results within a 24 hour period and you can scale those results by 10x within a weeks time. Not only that, but you can also get quick feedback about how your ads are performing so you can make appropriate changes to further optimize them.
This is a big one. Split testing or A/B testing basically means that you test different versions of your landing pages, call-to-actions, etc. to see which one delivers the best results. And with the speed of PPC ads, you can determine that within 15 days and be on your way to scaling up the campaigns as much as you can.
SEO or PPC?
Now that you know a little bit more about both types of marketing, you can see why it is not possible to provide a generalized answer to you. It ultimately depends on the type of business you’re running, where your prospects hang out and the marketing budget you’re working with.
If you are a local business with very low competition and only need a couple of leads per week, you could get the best results from SEO.
But if you are a new e-commerce store that is competing with the likes of Amazon, Walmart, eBay, etc. then you’re going to struggle in organic searches for a long time.
But, if you want leads now and you already have your website authority set up. You might want to go the PPC route.
You also want to make sure that you are looking at the long game. Because at the end of the day, you’re doing this to make sure that your business isn’t overtaken by your competitors. You want to make sure that the marketing you do today will help you lay the foundation for the authority and credibility you build over the years.
So what’s the best way of coming up with a long-term strategy? Decide on a 5-year goal and start working backward. That will not only help you develop a long-term strategy, it will also help you develop a solid short-term strategy that will give you pointers on what you should do next.
Most businesses would be better off with an integrated search strategy that utilizes both, SEO and PPC. This will provide them with the immediate results they are looking for, while also working on a long-time 5-year plan on establishing their credibility in the organic results. Again, it is possible that this strategy might not be best for your particular business.
But if you are looking for a strategy that would provide high growth, aggressive marketing, you will want to look at both channels of marketing and use them together rather than isolating each one.