It’s all well and good having a website that looks perfect and provides potential customers with a great experience – but if no one can find you or heard of you before, it doesn’t matter how great your site is – you won’t have any customers.
This is where digital marketing strategies such as SEO and PPC come in – helping you get seen by potential customers when they use search engines.
Both SEO and PPC involve getting your website to the top of a search engine results page – but are both done in different ways. SEO techniques take a bit more time but get you to the top of rankings organically – which means it can be achieved without paying for it. PPC can get you to the top speedily – but it’s inorganic, and you’ll have to pay for it.
So, is SEO or PPC better? We delve into the different methods – including the benefits and drawbacks of each method – below.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation – which is the process of enhancing your website’s visibility in search engines, leading to more organic website traffic. When your website is optimised for search engines, you’ll rank higher in the search engine results when someone searches for a keyword or phrase related to your website.
For example, if you search for ‘pizza + your local area’, you’ll usually find some well-known brands appearing high up – and will see local pizza companies because their site contains the phrase you searched for.
The benefits of SEO
- Organic listings can build brand authority – Constantly appearing on search results for search terms related to your product or service can build trust with your target audience – showing your audience (and the search engine) that you’re an expert on that topic.
- SEO can cost less in the long term – the initial cost of SEO can seem like a lot up front, but it can cost less than PPC in the long term. When you create content that ranks and drives traffic to your website, you no longer have to keep spending money to make your target customers see it. Plus, when customers click on your site it doesn’t cost you, unlike PPC.
- You can create different content types for different audiences – not all of your audience is at the same stage of the sales funnel – some may want to read your blogs or informational pages to find out more. Some may be ready to make a purchase. With SEO, you can create different content types on your website – case studies, blogs, guides, articles, and customer stories – to meet each targeted audience type. Then, when that content appears when a potential customer searches for something related, you’ll have a better chance of getting them to your site.
- SEO can produce stable search traffic – Once your website is ranking well on a search engine, you can start to plan for that free traffic as long as you ensure you keep optimising your site. You can’t do this with PPC, as once you’ve stopped using PPC, your traffic can dry up.
The drawbacks of SEO
- It can be difficult – if you’ve got lots of competition for certain keywords, you may struggle to rank higher than your competitors. You’ll either have to spend lots of time trying to get your site to rank highly for those keywords, or you’ll have to pick different words.
- It can take a while to see results – seeing results from SEO can take anywhere from 3-12 months – depending on a variety of factors from how new the website is, to how much competition there is for that category of website.
- SEO requires constant maintenance – although once you’ve optimised your site you will be ranking highly, you still need to keep optimising your site and continue to produce new content.
Understanding Pay Per Click
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, which are the adverts that appear at the top of search results. The website has paid for them to appear there and you’ll often see ‘sponsored’ or ‘ad’ written on them. The website or business owner will pay ‘per click’ for that advert – so when someone clicks on it, the business owner will be charged.
The benefits of PPC
- Speedy results – It can take months to reap the rewards of an SEO strategy, whereas implementing PPC can have the traffic coming to your website within hours.
- You can pinpoint your target audience – If you want people of a particular age or in a certain town, then you can target them with PPC – you set these categories when you set up your campaign.
- Your PPC ad will appear above the organic rankings – You’ll be noticed by your audience first, as you’ll appear at the top when potential customers search for your target keywords.
- You can do a split or A/B test with PPC – if you are not sure which ad to go with. You can run two different ads at the same time (A and B) and compare which yields better results. You can then choose to continue with the one that performs the best or optimise them both for better results.
The negatives of PPC
- Time investment – Although PPC is quicker to set up than SEO, you can’t just set up your campaign and leave it – time and optimisation are needed to yield results.
- Skills required – PPC isn’t something you can google and set up in an afternoon. It’s important to use a specialist agency to set up an effective campaign that’s relevant to your website and is going to get actual customers.
- It can end up being expensive – Without properly monitoring and optimising your campaign, you could be wasting money paying for clicks that aren’t generating you any revenue. Clicks and website visits won’t always lead to sales – but you’ll still have to pay for the click.
SEO vs PPC – Which is Better?
So, which is better? There are pros and cons to both – and it really depends on a variety of factors, as well as accurate keyword research, and whether you need instant results or if you can wait. If you’re short on time, you might want to consider PPC which can offer quick, efficient results – whereas SEO can take a while to yield results. However, if your budget is low, go for SEO – you won’t be paying each time someone clicks through to your site. But, bear in mind it will take time to get your site optimised, so you may need to spend some initial money to work with a specialist to get your website higher in the search rankings.
Alternatively, if you’re a new business, you’ll likely want to drive some immediate traffic to your website – in which case PPC is your best bet. SEO takes longer, so you won’t be generating traffic for a few months (or longer) so PPC can get you started.
Using SEO and PPC for Your Business
SEO can improve your digital marketing efforts if you use it properly – getting your content seen by potential customers. When your content is visible it can also help customers see your website as a trusted source of information. Although creating an SEO strategy does take time and effort – and expertise – there are some simple SEO best practices you can consider doing when creating content for your website.
- Use unique titles, descriptions and content – don’t duplicate content across your site.
- Use your keyword early on within your content – ensure you mention your keyword at least once at the top of your page/blog/article/guide.
- Optimise images for SEO – save your image files with relevant titles (don’t call them ‘image27’!) and use image alt text. Google can’t see images, so it just has the written content to work with.
On the other hand, PPC can quickly boost your online presence. Plus, if your keywords are right, then PPC could lead to the quick generation of revenue and results. Although creating a suitable PPC campaign does require time, effort and specialism – there are some quick PPC best practices you can use when getting started:
- Use A/B testing – testing the headline, description, landing page and target keywords is a great place to start.
- Ensure you tailor your audience – you’ll end up spending lots of money on wasted clicks if irrelevant audiences are seeing your online advertising.
- Keep monitoring your keywords – ensure the best keywords are being used for your ad and stop using any that aren’t generating results.
So, what’s the answer?
As we’ve discussed, there are pros and cons of both SEO and PPC strategies – both costing different amounts in terms of time and budget. Put simply:
SEO is best for your business if you want to:
- Implement a longer-term strategy
- Build trust
- Create unique targeted content on your site
- Generate stable results.
PPC is best for your business if you want to:
- Generate quicker results
- Target specific customers of a particular age/location/gender
- Get creative with split tests
- Instantly appear above organic rankings.
Still not sure which method is best for your business? Our marketing agency at Maxweb can help you decide – we offer a variety of services across both SEO and PPC. For pay-per-click we can manage everything from handling your Google PPC campaign to optimising the adverts to ensure they’re working.
With SEO, we can help you rank highly on search engines by creating content marketing, optimising your existing content, creating social media outreach campaigns, helping you with link building and improving the user experience on your website and improving your site loading time.
Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2023 in Digital Marketing.