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SEO vs PPC – which is better for my business?

  • Article by

    Amie Whale

Both SEO and PPC have the same goal of driving traffic to web pages. However, both achieve this in completely different ways. The question is, which is better for your business: SEO or PPC?

There are two ways of getting to the top of search engine results pages (SERPS). Pay-per-click (PPC) or search engine optimisation (SEO). Both methods are website traffic powerhouses with the potential to grow your business. However, SEO and PPC are fundamentally different.

For some businesses, the short-term approach of PPC is ideal, whereas, for others, the long-term game of SEO is the smart approach. Either way, it’s essential that you prioritise your search rankings, seeing as 95% of clicks go to the top 4 results

In this blog, we assess the pros and cons of SEO and PPC to help you decide which is the better course of action for your business.

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PPC vs SEO – the pros and cons

The battle between SEO and PPC is a fierce contest between two opposing sides. Both marketing strategies have their benefits and negatives that contend directly with each other.

Like any tough decision, it’s good to weigh up the pros and cons. Have your list at the ready, starting with PPC.

PPC – the pros

One of the biggest benefits of PPC is its ability to generate instant results. Within days, you could start to see results and appear at the top of Google. However, on average, businesses claim they normally see their PPC ad campaigns take around 3 months to work.

Because paid ads appear at the top of SERPs, they will be the first thing a user sees when searching for something. This factor increases their chances of being clicked and is why the top positions and keywords are expensive.

According to SerpWatch, from a total of 71.33% page 1 clicks, 67.60% go to the top 5 results. So, it pays to invest in a proper strategy.

When someone is searching for a product or service, you know they are already interested in making a purchase.

It’s just a matter of optimising your content and creating a user-friendly website or landing page to ensure you convert as many of them as possible.

As a result of working quickly and maintaining maximum visibility to users, your overall website traffic will increase. The more people visit your website, the higher the value and authority your website will appear – which can help your organic ranking.

Every digital marketing SEO campaign is competing for Google’s notorious position zero, otherwise known as the ‘featured snippet’. After spending time on the content strategy to achieve this, the next algorithm change to a search engine can potentially undo that hard work.

PPC isn’t affected by these algorithm changes, maintaining your ad always remains in full view.

Generating brand awareness is hugely important for progression and sustaining your business. In fact, Digivate states that PPC ads can increase brand awareness by 80%.

So, even when you’re not generating immediate leads, you could be setting yourself up for further business down the line.

If it’s versatility and the ability to split test you’re after, PPC ads are perfect. There are various types of ads to choose from, including:

  • Search ads – The most common type of PPC used by advertisers bidding for keywords on search engines such as Google.

  • Display ads – These ads are targeted at people who have shown an interest in a brand’s products or services.

  • Remarketing ads – This shows an ad campaign to users who have previously visited your website. It’s a brilliant way to convert abandoned baskets.

There are also shopping ads, paid social, Gmail sponsored and even Amazon Advertising.

PPC – the cons

Now for the ugly part. As with anything, there’s always a downside. The obvious for PPC is the cost in comparison to SEO. However, with PPC generating an average 200% return on investment (ROI), customers are certainly getting their money’s worth from PPC.

There are also suggestions that some people ignore PPC altogether. HubSpot reports up to 80% of users ignore PPC ads. However, when you combat this with claims from TechInjury showing 65% of customers click on PPC ads, we start to see that PPC generates many visitors to websites regardless of the preference to ignore.  

All in all, PPC is a fast and effective form of digital marketing that helps big and small businesses cut through the digital noise.

SEO – the pros

If PPC is the hare running as fast as it can to the top of SERPs, then SEO is the tortoise gradually gaining behind. But as we know, slow and steady can win the race. Now we’ve seen what PPC is bringing to the table, what about SEO?

With an SEO campaign, you don’t have to pay to rank organically. If your content is optimised enough with keywords and rich snippets you can get to the top of SERPs and stay, free of charge. Although, this will require time and resources.

57% of B2B marketers agree that SEO produces more quality leads than any other marketing strategy. Not bad when you have the potential to generate large volumes of traffic all year round without pouring loads of money in.

As already mentioned, people trust organic results over PPC. Despite PPC results appearing above organic, 67% of people will click on organic in comparison – especially when they’re searching for an answer to a question.

Outbound links are a part of an SEO strategy. It improves the credibility of your content and overall website. Rather than competing and bidding for keywords, you share your expertise and knowledge. This improves the overall quality of UX, content and relationships with other businesses.

Guest blogging is another component of an SEO strategy that builds healthy relationships with other brands. It involves writing content such as a blog for another company’s website to attract customers back to your own.

SEO – the cons

The one flaw to SEO in comparison to PPC is it takes a while longer to see results. After all, SEO is a long-term investment requiring a proper strategy.

Even if you think you’ve done everything right to gain leverage on SERPs with an SEO campaign, there are no guarantees of success. Your content will be trusted over PPC but not necessarily visible within those top search results.

On the flip side, SEO holds the key to business sustainability. Once you start generating rich SEO-friendly content, backed by a solid strategy, there’s no reason why you can’t continually generate thousands of website visitors every month. You could literally make money while you sleep. 

SEO vs PPC ROI

When it comes to comparing the ROI on SEO and PPC, it’s impossible to arrive at a definitive answer. Remember, every business has different needs and priorities.

For instance, a tutoring business with a low pricing model may find it harder to generate an ROI for some sessions. While an electrician with package maintenance services only needs a couple of leads to turn a profit.  

Statistics suggest that PPC sees an average ROI of 200%, while SEO is frankly impossible to calculate. However, Impact Plus states 70% of marketers see SEO as more effective than PPC. But again, it all depends on what your business needs and the competition in your market.

How PPC and SEO can work together

Why choose when you can have both? SEO and PPC work together to form a cohesive digital marketing strategy. PPC will give you short-term success while SEO will take care of the long game. The bridge between SEO and PPC is collaboration and quality content. One side informs the other to produce a powerful digital marketing campaign.

PPC informs your SEO of high performing keywords and CTR in a matter of days. Comparisons can be made through:

  • Headlines, title tags, and content
  • Keywords and topics
  • Different landing pages

In some cases, SEO can optimise your landing pages and work together with PPC to dominate SERPs. Having paid ads on top of SERPs with SEO blogs supporting beneath will advance your brand’s credibility, rankings, and presence.

So, it’s not a case of SEO vs PPC. It’s a case of developing a strategy that supports both of these effective forms of digital marketing.

If you require a full SEO and PPC strategy, get in touch with eighty3 creative. As a trusted, dynamic and specialist digital marketing agency, we know what it takes to convert more customers.

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