SEO, PPC or Both? Finding What’s Right For You
by Kelly Shelton • March 6, 2018
I’m not sure how long you’ve been in the business world, but chances are if it’s been awhile then you are familiar with the ins and outs of traditional outbound marketing. Traditional methods include print advertisements, television ads, cold calls and mailed reminders and primarily focus on exposing your business to attract new customers.
These methods are tried and true and have worked well in the past. But if you’ve been paying attention even a little bit, recent years have brought in new ways of marketing. The internet and digitization of the modern world has taken many marketing techniques off of paper and the short commercial segments of our TV screens and instead, online.
Online marketing focuses in large part on inbound marketing. This allows businesses to make their brand available to the people who are already searching for their product or services. So, when people search online for “affordable dentist in Seattle”, inbound marketing makes sure that you and your website, as an affordable dentist in Seattle, are showing up and standing out to those potential customers.
As Google receives more than 63,000 searches per second on any given day, it’s time you figure out how your business if going to be found online.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a process that uses certain best practices to rank well with search engine algorithms which determine how far up on pages a website is listed.
There are a number of factors that play into how well a website ranks organically. A few of the most common include:
- Content quality
- Website optimization
- Mobile optimization
- Interaction to your website from social media
- HTML formatting
While keywords and links have consistently stood out as the top two most important ranking factors for SEO, it takes a lot more than just keyword stuffing and using random links to build up your SEO standing. 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority and competition is high and long-term effort is required to see real results.
What is PPC?
PPC, or “pay per click”, advertising allows one to purchase ads directly to be placed first on a search engine result page (SERP). These ads are always listed above the organic search results and are marked in a way so that users know they are a paid ad.
The basics of PPC come down to choosing a set of keywords that potential customers might use to search for whatever it is you offer. Whether it is a plumbing service, high-end handbag or local restaurant, while the keywords and target audience for each business will be different, the way PPC works remains the same.
Search engines show your paid advertisement when they think it fits the needs of whoever is searching, and how much you are willing to spend on your ads. You pay for every customer who clicks on your ad. So, the larger the budget, the more keywords you can use to get your ad showing up online.
Benefits & Setbacks of SEO
There are many benefits of SEO, but of course no one strategy is perfect. Let’s get a well-rounded look at the pros and cons of SEO, in comparison with PPC.
- Relatively inexpensive compared to other marketing tactics
- Results last longer than PPC
- Builds your brand image and credibility
- Many users skip PPC and go to the organic results
- Integrates all of your online marketing efforts, including social media and blogs
- Can take months to see results—slow and on-going process
- Still listed below PPC ads
- There’s no assurance that you will outrank competitors
- Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so what worked well for SEO in the past, may not always continue to work
Benefits & Setbacks of PPC
Now that you have a better understanding of SEO, let’s do the same with PPC.
- Your ads rank immediately, so you see immediate results
- Relatively simple to set up and use
- Easy to measure the ROI and see what works and doesn’t work
- Guaranteed at least some level of traffic
- When consumers are ready to purchase, 65% will click on a paid ad
- With data through tools like Google AdWords, you can find and define your target audience very specifically
- When paired with organic efforts, you have double brand exposure as your website can be listed twice on one SERP
- As soon as you stop the money, you stop the results
- Can get expensive, especially without proper monitoring, since you pay for every click and clicks don’t necessarily equal conversions
- Depending on industry, can be hard to compete against the big brands with large budgets
- (As previously mentioned) Because of the label as an ad, many people skip over PPC ads entirely and go straight to the organic listings
How can SEO & PPC work together?
While some people will favor SEO and others PPC, the two don’t always have to be in competition with one another. In fact, in a perfect situation with the budget that allows for it, using both SEO and PPC would bring in the greatest ROI. As Boostability put it, “PPC and SEO complement each other, making up for each other’s weaknesses and strengthening your online marketing campaign.”
Both can attract new leads where the other doesn’t, and greatly increase your profits. The relationship is like the ying-yang of online marketing.
So, consider a combination of the two methods. You may use PPC to generate leads for short-term marketing campaigns, such as promotions or new products. You can use SEO for a more consistent web presence and to build your brand authority over time. Using PPC and SEO together brings in immediate results with long-term impact.
Another great incentive to use PPC and SEO together is that using PPC can get people to notice your brand, and therefore other inbound marketing techniques, quicker than if they were performing singularly. And in general, the more chances to be seen, the better.