The Age-Old Question: SEO vs. PPC
It’s been stressed severally, but it is worth repeating: traffic is the driving force of any online undertaking. The success of your online business, to a great extent, depends on the amount of traffic it can generate.
You’re planning to launch a digital marketing campaign to improve your online presence and boost sales. You’re wondering what strategy to adopt, search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC). Is there a right or wrong answer? Is one superior to the other? Does it depend on the business? Or could both fit the business?
The article will attempt to tackle some of these issues to help you decide what’s best for your business.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing or improving the visibility of your website and webpages to rank in the organic results of search engines such as Google or Bing. In other words, when you invest in SEO, you organically increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website from search engines.
Usually, the search engine spiders understand what’s on your web pages so that, ideally, they can rank your site higher than your competitors. So, for example, suppose you want to rank higher and enable your brand to take up more real estate on search engine result pages (SERPs). In that case, you must enhance your online content to appease search engine algorithms, which calculate your pages’ quality, credibility, and relevance and rank them accordingly.
Pros and Cons of SEO
Investing in SEO as a digital marketing tool typically involves generating organic traffic by creating content that ranks higher in search engines and drives traffic to your website. You don’t
have to keep spending money to make your target customers see your site. Therefore, if you’re wondering how much it costs, the answer is not much. The cost will vary on whether SEO is done in-house or outsourced from a digital marketing agency. Nonetheless, in the long run, SEO is less expensive.
Once you rank on search engines, you can plan for and predict free and consistent traffic to your website using desired keywords, backlinks, or other SEO ranking factors. In addition, SEO doesn’t come with an on-and-off feature, unlike paid marketing, where your website stops appearing once your budget dries up. Think of it in terms of real estate; SEO is more about owning your traffic, while paid marketing is like renting it.
Trust and Credibility
Ranking high in organic results creates a perception of authenticity with the audience looking for your products or services. Most users trust websites that appear on top of SERPs, which explains why they skip ads. That being the case, if you want to receive a big fat thumb of approval, build trust, and enjoy a positive lasting online reputation, focus on increasing your SEO rankings.
The stability of traffic, brand authenticity, and improved brand awareness allow you to command a powerful brand authority. SEO has superior staying power over other marketing channels, meaning even if your marketing team were to take a break, your brand would still be relevant to your audience. Such a level of brand authority signifies to Google and the online community that you are an expert at what you do. As a consequence, you can earn more backlinks from other trusted sites.
Changes in Rankings
Perhaps the most recognizable drawback of SEO is the shifts in rankings. One day, you rank higher, generating more traffic, and then the next, you drop significantly, which can be
frustrating. Many factors determine how high you rank. Sadly, some of these factors are beyond your control. For instance, search engines routinely change their algorithms. Google constantly tweaks its ranking algorithm; some updates are game-changers and others are a cause of concern. Other factors include technical issues, competitors upping their game, and searchers changing their intents.
It could take a while before SEO generates substantial results. Before enjoying a desirable outcome, you have to be patient, put in the work, and use various actionable SEO tips. It’s even worse if your website or domain is new because multiple factors determine how Google ranks websites.
Requires Skills and Expertise
SEO is an ongoing process that involves tons of work. Your content must be unique, authoritative, and reflective of your expertise. Besides effective content, you must use other SEO factors such as keywords, backlinks, and title tags strategically to increase the chances of your website and its web pages ranking higher. This means hiring an expert or consulting an SEO company.
Even so, the skills and expertise don’t guarantee excellent results, since the digital environment is a highly competitive space with numerous far-sophisticated companies involved.
What is PPC?
It is a search engine marketing (SEM) strategy where an advertiser pays a publisher, say Google or Facebook, for each click users make on an ad. In other words, PPC is an inorganic search where you can buy traffic to your site. The rationale behind PPC advertising is the inability to compete and draw sufficient online presence on SERPs by putting money behind it.
PPC ads and SEO results occur concurrently on search engines, only that PPC ads get priority and appear first. Therefore, if you invest in this advertising model, it guarantees a position on the first page of search engine results.
Pros and Cons of PPC
PPC marketing produces immediate results. Once your content goes live, it generates traffic to your website, clicks, and conversions immediately because paid advertising appears above organic rankings.
Pinpoint Target Audience
You can choose who to target based on geographical, demographic, or other factors. In addition, if your business deals in a diverse range of products and services targeting different markets, you can set up different PPC ads to target customers from different segments simultaneously.
The marketing model’s agility gives you the power to run different ads simultaneously to measure which one converts better, a technique known as A/B testing. In this strategy, you can not only split ads but can also set different landing pages and even call-to-action buttons to determine where the best results lie.
PPC is fundamentally a paid search marketing model; you need money to run a PPC campaign. You pay for every click, meaning once your budget dries out, so does your traffic. In other words, you’ll need money to set up a PPC campaign and even more to keep your ads visible to your audience for as long as possible.
PPC campaigns are scalable and can generate quick results. However, this can work against your business. For example, paid ads can send a wrong message regarding the authenticity of your brand; therefore, ignore your ads. Also, the longer the campaigns, the less effective they become
because people see your ads too often.
Even though PPC ads may lead to short-term wins, it’s not a worthy investment considering profit margins in the long run. First, generating traffic does not always translate to sales; most people will visit your site but may not engage. Second, since PPC is based on a “pay to play” system, it requires an ongoing investment, meaning you will keep increasing your customer acquisition costs (CAC) with no results to show for it.
When is it Best to Use SEO?
Here are some circumstances when SEO would be a suitable marketing strategy for your online business. When:
You desire consistent results: SEO is more sustainable given its relatively long gestation period. Getting to the first page or on top of the SERPs will not happen overnight. Sometimes it may take several weeks of consistent work. Nonetheless, you will enjoy lasting and stable traffic once your SEO campaign picks up.
You want to build powerful brand authority. An authority site takes time to build. It serves as a resource center for a particular niche, a “go-to” site whenever your audience needs certain information, product, or service. When you establish such an authority, your business will generate the most traffic based on URL recall alone.
You want to enhance the value of your website. A website is essentially a virtual asset whose value you want to grow constantly. The credibility, sustainability, and traffic flow stability associated with SEO make your site more valuable.
When is it Best to Use PPC?
Below are circumstances that prove a PPC campaign would be ideal for your business compared to SEO:
If you desire immediate results, say you are launching a new product or service, and want to make an impact quickly, a PPC campaign is the only way to go. When your campaign
goes live, your ads will immediately be displayed to millions of people, generating immense traffic.
PPC allows you to narrow down your prospects based on various factors if your goal is to get highly targeted traffic.
When promoting a time-sensitive offer, a PPC campaign is helpful when promoting products, services, or events with an expiration date. For example, if you are selling tickets to a music festival that is due in three days; the PPC campaign will help you with that.
The Best Strategy is to Utilize Both
SEO and PPC differ in approach, purpose, and outcome despite being effective and highly sought-after digital marketing techniques. Therefore, if you want to grow your online presence and improve sales, it shouldn’t be a “either/or” case when deciding to go with SEO or PPC. For instance, there are circumstances when SEO is perfect and other instances when PPC makes more sense. So, you can utilize both either concurrently or at different points of your business.
We are a certified professional firm dealing in digital marketing, from SEO, pay per click, local SEO, content marketing, and social media to web design. We have a rich history of turning businesses of all sizes across all sectors using our superior digital marketing solutions. At Cincy SEO, we’re in the business of growing yours.