Marketers love an acronym and the world of digital marketing is full of them. This can often be confusing for newcomers but two of the most widely used are SEO and PPC.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the practice of improving a website’s organic search ranking (i.e., where it appears on search engine results pages). This includes improving page speed, creating content centred around target keywords, building backlinks and more.
PPC, or pay-per-click, also involves search engines, but while SEO focuses on organic, non-paid activity, PPC involves tools like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising to run paid campaigns in the search results.
Importantly, both SEO and PPC drive traffic by boosting the visibility of a website on search engine results pages and while the outcome is the same, each practice has very different pros and cons.
With this is in mind, which avenue is best for your business? Here’s five things you should consider when deciding whether to focus your digital marketing strategy on SEO or PPC.
As the name suggests, with PPC you are charged every time someone clicks on your ad, resulting in ongoing monthly costs (and the results will abruptly stop the moment you stop paying). For ecommerce sites that can quantify return on ad spend, this cost is unlikely to be an issue but for B2B businesses that have longer consideration times, they will need to consider other parameters such as longer lead times or attributed sales.
Comparatively, once your website is SEO rich and appearing at the top of the search results, there is no cost per click. However, you will always need regular content creation to maintain your organic ranking.
For your website to appear in organic search results, it must first be indexed by a search engine. As smaller businesses usually have lower domain authority, indexing often takes longer and establishing a good organic ranking can take a few months, even for SEO experts.
Whilst it may take time to gather the data needed to fully optimise a campaign, PPC on the other hand can deliver results immediately with your ads generating clicks straight away.
On search results pages, paid results always appear above organic ones. This means that your website can achieve better visibility using PPC because users don’t have to scroll down to see your listing, which may generate more clicks.
On the flip side, SEO has the upper hand when it comes to credibility. Many people are more inclined to click on organic results because they perceive them as more trustworthy, so may instinctively scroll past the ads.
Whilst you can influence what keywords you target for SEO, ultimately the search engine decides what search queries will trigger your website listing. Plus, your position is at the mercy of search engine algorithm updates, which can sometimes cause slight disruptions to where your website ranks unless you are prepared for them.
Consequently, SEO offers much less control than PPC. With PPC, you can choose which specific keyword sets will trigger which specific ads, as well as only showing ads to people who are in specific locations, previous website visitors, or browsing at certain times of day… The list of potential targeting criteria goes on!
Another benefit of PPC is that your ads can appear in lots of different places. For instance, if you use Google Ads, your website or app can be shown on: Google Play; YouTube; and a whole host of websites in the Google Search and Google Display Networks. This means you can reach your audience no matter where they are on the web.
On the other hand, SEO is solely focused on search results pages but there are things you can do to improve your visibility. This includes:
As well as improving your ranking in Google Search, SEO can also help your business appear higher up in organic search results on Google Maps.
By now, it will be clear that SEO and PPC each have their own unique benefits and pitfalls. As such, it’s best to take an integrated approach rather than solely focusing on one or the other. By exploiting the natural synergy between these two complementary practices, you can really take your marketing strategy to the next level. This can help you:
Finally, the granularity and extensiveness of data gained from PPC gives more control to SEO. For instance, you can use PPC to find the best-converting keywords to target before committing to a long-term SEO strategy.
As a full service marketing agency with a dedicated team of digital specialists, Gough Bailey Wright can provide the perfect balance of SEO and PPC for your business’ marketing strategy. If you’d like more information on how we can help drive more traffic to your website, please give us a call on 01527 579 555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.