We’ve been seeing a lot of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) vs. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) stories lately, and while these are two distinct marketing choices, we don’t perceive them as opposing points of view, but rather as two sides of the same coin.
Both SEO and PPC are useful and have their own roles in any complete digital marketing strategy. SEO is a long-term enterprise, while PPC is best used for specific marketing campaigns. Knowing how and when to use each is crucial to the success of any business.
Why Buy the Cow When You Can Get the Clicks for Free?
When you’re dealing with a limited marketing budget, choices about when and how to spend money can be make-or-break for your business. Trying to convince the decision makers that PPC is worth the money or that SEO is worth the time can be a frustrating process.
We’ve broken down the pros and cons of each to get you the highest CTR and most conversions for any situation.
Of course the biggest benefit to SEO is the expense. SEO doesn’t require any outside costs (don’t forget to pay your employees, though).
Creating or updating local listings, creating content, A/B testing, on-page SEO, link building… all of these things can improve your search results without any added costs.
The CTR of search is 70%, versus 30% for PPC, so you’re getting much more bang for your buck with search.
Ostensibly, SEO is the best choice, but search isn’t ideal for every situation.
The downside to SEO is that these things take time. While listings and on-page SEO can be done relatively quickly, building up a library of content and A/B testing are lengthy processes that never really end, and link building is a constant struggle.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo (et al.) are constantly updating their algorithms, and your site will need to keep up with these changes. Rankings fluctuate naturally as well, as the competition works on its own SEO.
SEO is a race with no finish line, and your business needs to be like Aesop’s tortoise, running slow and steady. Shortcuts here are highly discouraged, as getting your site downgraded isn’t worth the temporary SEO boost.
SEO is a long-term investment, but one that pays huge dividends to those with the time and the patience to do the work that is required.
It’s something that needs to be continually added to and refined on a daily basis, and improvements can be slow to show results, but the ROI is phenomenal.
PPC is designed for more short-term goals. If you’re a new company who wants to raise brand awareness, or if you want to promote a specific marketing campaign, then PPC is a great way to accomplish this.
PPC offers instant results, but those results can come at a cost.
Choose Your Keywords Carefully
Depending on your business and your target audience (more specifically, your target keywords), you could end up trying to compete with much larger, more established companies for the same real estate.
Going after long-tail keywords is a way around this problem, but that solution can depend heavily on your particular product or service.
Some research into keyword performance can be time well spent before launching a PPC campaign.
Long-tail keywords can have the added benefit of pre-screening your visitors, as well. The more detailed the keyword, the more likely that a visitor to your landing page will convert to a customer.
Use for Specific Goals
If your business is new, then PPC can raise brand awareness in a hurry. By getting your ads on the top of a SERP you can guarantee plenty of impressions in a very short amount of time.
A limited time offer can benefit greatly from PPC, too. SEO can take months or years to have an effect, and limited time offers just aren’t going to last long enough to see results from this strategy.
A PPC campaign can get your offer seen immediately. While the CTR for PPC is lower than SEO, it guarantees you a spot at the top of the page, so the visibility is much better.
Think of PPC as a reservation at a five-star restaurant, and the ad cost as the tip for the maitre d’. Sure, it’s more expensive, but you get a great table.
You don’t need to choose between SEO and PPC, but you do need to use them appropriately. SEO is a constant struggle, while PPC is situational.
Make sure you understand which one to use in each circumstance before spending the time and money on the wrong approach.
By following these tips, you can decrease unnecessary spending and increase the ROI on your SEO and PPC efforts.