Comparing SEO vs. PPC is one of the most important comparisons to make when it comes to marketing your company online. Both strategies can be highly effective. So how do you pick which one is right for your website?
If you’re struggling to determine which is better for your business, we’ll cover the basics and benefits between the two to help you make the best decision.
SEO vs. PPC: An Overview
As you think about PPC vs. SEO, there are a couple of main differences to keep in mind: PPC costs much more money than SEO but can provide quicker results. While SEO takes more time, it can help build and create a lasting online presence to help capture, engage, and convert.
You’ll need to work hard to create content that appears at the top of Google search results to nail SEO marketing. PPC ads go to the top of these results pages automatically without any further effort on your end. But you have to pay the price per click for the privilege, as it can be pretty competitive out there. If you plan on investing in PPC, be mindful that you’ll need a budget that allows you to remain competitive. If you execute a PPC campaign but refuse to spend the recommended budget, you’ll likely see minimal results – if any.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s a type of digital marketing that involves building content around key terms to rank highly in Google search results when people look up those terms.
For example, let’s say you want to be at the top of the Google results page whenever someone types in “best accounting software.” To achieve this, you’ll need to create a sound SEO strategy which could include an in-depth, valuable blog post that describes the best accounting software and makes generous use of the term.
If all goes well, you’ll end up on the top of the Google search results page whenever someone types in “best accounting software” into their Google search bar.
- No advertising fees outside of what you pay to make the content
- Boost traffic to your website
- Can last forever
- Improved click-through rate
- Build up consumer credibility and trust in your brand
- It will take time to see results
- SEO strategies can be complicated and more expensive than you think
- You have no guarantee of earning a high ranking
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is the second half of our SEO vs. PPC comparison. It’s a type of digital marketing that involves paying a fee every time your advertisement gets clicked. There are several different types of PPC advertising, one of which is search engine PPC.
Whenever someone types a phrase into Google, they’re shown a few advertised results in addition to their organic ones. These are PPC ads that companies pay money to appear whenever certain types of internet users type in certain keywords.
For example, if you own a hardware store, you could pay to have it pop up whenever people in your area type “hardware store” into Google. Then, when someone clicks on your result, you would pay a fee for that traffic.
- Show up near the top of the page – or even bottom of page 1
- More control over what shows up within the result itself (such as pricing information, product details, and contact data)
- Options for visual product ads
- Makes it easy to A/B test landing pages, ad phrasing, and more
- Results are instant
- You have to pay every time someone clicks on your ad
- If you ever stop paying for the PPC ad placement, you will lose the traffic that you’ve been generating from it entirely
- Your average cost-per-click depends on your industry and could be higher than you think
Should you pursue PPC Ads, you’ll want to allow for approximately 30-45 days to see results. After that time, you can adjust, but pausing or canceling ads will cost you to lose placement and traffic. Be mindful of what you choose to pursue and not pursue.
Which Is the Better Solution for Your Business?
While we’ve covered the basics, pros, and cons of SEO and PPC marketing, the question remains, which one should you use?
There are a few ways to come up with an answer to that question.
For example, we could look at SEO vs. PPC statistics, which say that organic search drives 53% of web traffic while paid ads only account for 27%. Or we could look at PPC vs. SEO conversion rates. But these vary quite a bit from industry to industry.
The bottom line is that if you can only use one, the right strategy for your company will depend on its unique factors.
PPC may be better if:
- You want instant results
- You don’t mind paying for each click that you get
- You don’t want to have to spend time and money creating content that will show up at the top of Google search results organically
But SEO will likely be the better choice if:
- You’re looking for a long-term digital marketing solution
- You don’t want to have to pay every time someone clicks on your result
- You want to optimize your click-through rates
SEO and PPC: Working Together
You could look at a million SEO vs. PPC infographics and spend hours researching SEO vs. SEM vs. PPC. But at the end of the day, most marketers would agree that these two tactics are best-used together. That’s true for a few reasons.
First, when you combine SEO and PPC, you’re giving your company instant digital marketing results (through PPC) while building a longer-term website traffic solution (SEO). That means you can start getting results immediately without totally sacrificing your future.
Additionally, your results from PPC marketing will generate a ton of data about how well your company does with different types of keywords, ad copy, and landing pages. You can leverage all of this information to make much more effective SEO marketing content, which could eventually help you achieve the same results in the future.
Finally, your audience isn’t a monolith. It’s full of unique individuals who each have their own preferences. That means it’s usually a mistake to deploy a single type of advertising. Because by doing so, you’re potentially missing out on large chunks of your audience that may respond better to other types of ads.
When you put it all together, the answer is clear. If you want to get as much out of your digital marketing strategy as possible, using SEO and PPC together is the best way to do so.