Generally, PPC is perceived to be costing you more money but brings you immediate results, while SEO can be free, but it often takes time to show you some winning results. Basically, it’s what we’re all familiar with when it comes to business and working on tasks - trading time for money and vice versa.
SEO and PPC have their unique advantages and disadvantages, but which is better for your business? Let’s find out!
Today, we’ll talk about a few things to help you gather essential information about SEO vs. PPC:
A Mix of Two Worlds
A quick disclaimer: we will not try to persuade you to choose one search engine marketing strategy over the other. We will do our best to show you the strong and weak points of an SEO or PPC strategy, and help you see which marketing method will serve your business better.
So, you better keep on reading.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a powerful search engine marketing method that will help you attract organic search traffic to your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
It is an extensive method that requires a substantial amount of time and completing a wide range of tasks just to get your website ranking higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Once you rank higher on the first page of the SERPs, you will gain more search visibility from your ideal customers or clients.
Now, the timeframe of seeing good results can depend on your industry and its competitiveness. Frequently, though, it takes longer to get the sweet fruits of your SEO labor. Also, more businesses are playing smart nowadays - hiring experienced SEO specialists to help them improve their rank. But is it worth it?
You bet it is. The best thing about SEO is that when your website starts ranking higher, your position tends to stay on top unless your competitor is actively working on his SEO to beat you.
Often, you can secure the same position for months, and this gets you a massive percentage of organic search traffic to your website, especially if you rank in the top 3 results.
What is PPC?
Pay per Click (PPC) marketing is often about getting immediate results, and visitors to your website as they as your targeted keywords on search engines trigger them. Usually, it only takes a matter of minutes to see visitors coming to your site after setting up your PPC campaign.
Now, setting up a PPC campaign might appear like a piece of cake, but to achieve profitable results, you need to back it up with lots of planning and execution.
What you’d love about PPC marketing is that you can laser-focus your aim when targeting ideal customers so you can lure them to visit your website - you can leverage specific information such as their location, income, age, preferences, and background.
However, having the option to laser-target your ideal audience often comes at a high price. Luckily though, you can control how much money you’re willing to spend for a specific keyword.
Now that you have a quick refresher about SEO and PPC let’s dig deeper into each of their advantages and disadvantages to help you answer the ever-growing question: which is better SEO or PPC?
So, here we go.
You see, Search Engine Optimization covers a massive part of search engine marketing. No wonder it works like you’re planting seeds in a forest - you plant them today and wait for a while to see them grow. You can actually speed up the process, but it’s more than publishing high-quality content - it requires a lot more work in your on-page and off-page SEO strategy.
Take a look at the SEO pros we listed:
It Won’t Cost You Money if You Do It on Your Own
You have to be willing to continually increase your knowledge of SEO and spend a tremendous amount of time creating and publishing your website content. The few investments you might have to pay for are your website theme and hosting.
Offers Moderate Learning Curve
Time-wise, this can be a disadvantage if you’re looking to speeding things up. However, you don’t really have to master SEO quickly to get at least some results. Hence, the moderate learning curve.
You can start the basics of researching keywords and writing content optimized for search engines and your readers, throw in some optimized images in your web page content and use a decent server, and your SEO journey is set.
Plus, most websites nowadays have heaps of SEO plugins that can automatically take care of your content and technical needs. So, all you have to do is know which plugins you need to better your website and install them.
SEO has long been seen to bring excellent ROI, especially when it comes to the local business field where there’s not too much competition, unlike national, international, and global markets.
Plus, you can choose to do everything on your own to save more expenses. But even if you hire SEO services to let the experts play the game for you, you can still get up to 15x the amount of clicks you would get when using PPC, given that you get to rank considerably high for a high search volume keyword, thereby increasing your clicks and conversions.
Great for Long Term Marketing Strategy
If you consistently improve your SEO efforts for about six months to a year, the good results you acquire can serve your business for years. However, don’t forget to improve or update your website content from time to time to signal the search engines that your website showcases the most current information.
Excellent for Brand Awareness
You see, just like yourself, your ideal customers would search for information such as guides and reviews before purchasing a product or paying for a service. You can take advantage of this buying phase by writing compelling content that meets your customers’ needs and intent. Then, you can rank higher in the SERPs.
Over time, people will remember how reliable your content is and your brand. Remember that often, customers have to see your website at least seven times before they totally trust you and buy something from you.
Ability to Control Your Content
This could be one of the SEO pros that you would really love - you can rank for almost any content. You have more freedom in displaying whatever content you would want to rank for, and you can enjoy the longer titles and descriptions of every web page, which will eventually improve your click-through rate (CTR).
Results Often Take Time to Show
I don’t know if six months to one year sounds right for you, or just an excruciating wait game. We understand that as a business owner, you need to see the results fast. If that’s the case, you might be better off focusing more on PPC.
However, don’t forget to establish your SEO strategy as soon as your website is published because no matter how SEO takes time to show results, it is still essential in your search engine marketing efforts. So, the sooner you start playing your SEO game, the sooner you get the results.
SEO Can Be Difficult to Master
You see, SEO is more than just keyword research and link building. If you want to become an expert in this field, you will need to learn HTML and CSS coding, among many other technical skills required.
Plus, there are learning sitemaps, fixing multiple language issues, indexing, redirects, URLs, and many others. Also, your content has to become even more persuasive and significant to get links - they are harder to come by nowadays unless you have lots of $$$.
If PPC is like playing a musical instrument, SEO is managing the entire orchestra. You see, mastering SEO can be overwhelming, but it sure is rewarding.
Difficult to Scale
Scaling in SEO can be really challenging, especially if you’re a one-person team. Often, if you publish more content such as web articles and blog posts, you will get more traffic to your website. However, you can only do so much for your website in 24 hours, especially if you’re the only one.
Now, if you want to build a trusted website and become an authority in an online search about your industry, your website would need heaps of articles published per week. So, you would need an expert team with content marketing strategists and editors to help you scale your SEO efforts.
SEO is generally impacted by search engine algorithms, especially by Google. So, your website ranking might drop, or worse, removed from being indexed at any time for any reason. Now, this usually happens if you practice Black Hat SEO techniques such as spamming your content with keywords and buying links from irrelevant websites to link back to your site.
But if you abide by Google’s Guidelines, the majority of your website should be okay when algorithms change.
You may think of Pay per Click as a regular method of advertising, but it is actually more than what you think it is. PPC becomes really beneficial when it comes to having the capacity to show your ideal customers your business ad when they search for a particular keyword and pay for the ad only when people click it.
Here are more advantages you can get from PPC:
Opportunity to See Results Immediately
This is probably the greatest thing when doing PPC marketing, especially if you have a well set-out landing page. So, make sure that you have a compelling call-to-action and that your contact details are easy to locate and see.
PPC is Easier to Master
Becoming a PPC expert still does not happen overnight - you might still have to learn several things about Pay per Click by burning money on ads, but PPC is a lot easier to master than SEO. Also, if you’re done setting up a decent campaign and keeps on optimizing it for a few months, it will pay dividends.
Now, remember that there may still be some advanced techniques that can be done to scale your campaign, and these are often hard to learn on your own. Luckily, you can tap the ad experts, especially in Google Ads, to boost your ad results.
Scaling Up is Quick
PPC allows you to scale up pretty fast and easy, especially on Google Ads, as long as you can pay more money. You can either target more highly searched keywords or increase your daily budget.
Unlike in the SEO spectrum, PPC updates are upfront and cannot hurt your ad campaigns. So, there’s no change in the algorithm that can directly impact your PPC marketing efforts. Also, it only takes about 20 minutes to set up your ad campaign and know if everything is approved. The process also includes telling you what is allowed and what is not. Plus, Google support can help you out.
Everything has a disadvantage. In PPC, for example, you might cringe at the thought of having to pay ads out of a thin profit margin - running a $0.98 ad on a product with only $1 profit per sale is such an absurd thing to do.
Here are some of the disadvantages you could encounter when doing PPC marketing:
Every Click Has a Price
As the old saying goes, “pay to play”. For every ideal customer clicking on your ad, you have to pay - that’s why it’s important to think in a CTR sense. For instance, you earn $20 per sale and depending on your ad set up, you could be paying $0.01 to $19.99 for every purchase.
Now, remember that your money will only bring you traffic and does not guarantee conversion. So, if you bring in 200 people into your landing page, but your conversion rate is only at 1%, then you need to ensure that those 200 visitors cost way less than what you earn for every sale.
Consists of a Steep Learning Curve
Business owners who do PPC on their own find the Google Adwords platform overwhelming. Plenty of things need digesting such as CPC, campaigns, CTR, ad groups, bids, keywords, budgets, negative keywords, and a lot more!
If you push through PPC and you don’t really understand what you’re doing, you are more likely burning your money than you could ever know. However, once you get the hang of it, setting up campaigns should be easy peasy.
Not So Impressive ROI
Basically, in PPC, when you stop paying for your ads, the ROI stops growing. Unlike in SEO, the ROI grows as good results start to show and develop over time. PPC’s ROI is short term - your sales earnings minus your ad spend.
Growth Depends on How Much Money You Have
PPC is always tied to a budget regardless of how easy it is to scale. So, if you want to sell more products, you have to spend more money on your ads - this isn’t entirely bad. Still, as a business owner, you perceive growth as involving not just budget for paid advertising but also for other expenses such as warehouses, better servers, and personnel.
Not Effective for Brand Awareness
Paying for visitor clicks leaves a huge impression that you want to sell fast - this does not help build genuine and stronger trust between you and your target customers compared to feeding them useful content over time before selling something of sale to them (which SEO does).
Even though people buy from you, they are more likely to have come from someone else’s informational website or other affiliate links, which they most likely trust and come back to anytime.
Less Ability to Control Your Content
Unlike SEO, PPC puts up some restrictions for displaying ads - from your ad title, description, and to the content itself. Some words are even banned in particular niches.
SEO vs. PPC: Leveraging the Two Digital Marketing Methods
So, which is better SEO or PPC?
Sorry to disappoint you, but honestly… no digital marketing strategy is better than the other when it comes to SEO vs. PPC.
SEO and PPC should be viewed together and not separately because why choose only one when you can harness the power of both marketing strategies to better your website and gain more traffic, conversion, and profit for your business?
SEO is excellent for long term traffic but really takes time to bring results to the table. On the other hand, PPC can instantly drive traffic to your website and show results but can cost you more money as you go.
We best recommend that you utilize SEO for your website and leverage PPC for your landing pages, especially if you’re launching a sale or a new product - getting the best of both worlds.
So, practice SEO for long term gains such as organic traffic for months on end as you build trust with your customers through your content, and eventually, gain more conversions as your SEO efforts take its momentum. Then, use PPC for short term wins, especially when laser-targeting ideal customers who are more likely to convert without having to supply them with your content continually.
Want to get a headstart on SEO and PPC than your competitors? You best talk to the experts.
Managing Partner, has been building Delante since 2014. Responsible for international SEO strategies. He has a strong analytical approach to online marketing backed by more than 12 years of experience. Previously associated with the IT industry, as well as the automotive, tobacco, and financial markets. Has experience in creating scaled processes based on agile methodologies.
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