PPC vs. SEO – which is better?

SEO vs PPC do both drive website traffic but each have its own pros and cons. While it may not be the greatest debate of our time, we frequently receive this question from new clients when we begin devising their marketing plan.

Although they both are effective at increasing website ranks, SEO and PPC both have pros and cons.

And – spoiler alert – there is often not always one right answer for what will feed you the most website traffic. When weíre bombarded with inquiries about which one is best, we have a simple answer: why not both?

SEO vs. PPC
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In todayís post, we will review each side of this coin to show the pros and cons of each approach and end with what we believe to be a pretty happy medium in the great debate of SEO vs. PPC.

An Overview of SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a methodology of tactics used to increase the number of visitors to your website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) ó including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.

Some common tactics for improving your siteís SEO includes keyword research, strategic keyword placement (in titles, meta descriptions, alt image tags, etc.), pillar page organization, building up backlinks, content creation, and much more.

Honestly, the list could go on forever, and if youíre interested in improving your websiteís SEO, check out some of our blogs on SEO best practices.

Grow Your Website Traffic by 484% in 3-Months

How to Launch a Successful PPC Campaign Everytime.

An Overview of PPC

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a form of digital marketing in which your company pays each time one of their ads is clicked on in a SERP.

Rather than earning your position using SEO tactics, itís a way for you to buy your way onto the first page of the search results page through paid ads.

SEO vs. PPC
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Comparing SEO and PPC

In our comparison below, weíll explain the pros and cons of both PPC advertising and SEO. Continue reading to see how these two digital marketing tactics compare and see which option is best for you.

The longevity of SEO and Keywords

When we say ďlongevity,Ē we are referring to how long your efforts will work to increase your website traffic.

SEO:

One great thing about SEO is that, even though it is a lot of hard work, when all is said and done, you will always own the work that youíve completed.

For as long as your website remains, the content you developed and optimized will remain online to continue working toward improving your topic authority, credibility, and placement in the search results.

PPC:

PPC, on the other hand, is more often a short-term solution. Because you have to pay to be placed in the ad spaces at the top of the results page, your visibility depends on your budget.

If you stop paying, your ads will disappear and youíll have nothing left to show for the time you put into your PPC planning.

Affordability of SEO vs PPC

SEO vs. PPC
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Source

SEO:  SEO requires a lot of time and effort to make sure your content remains fresh and your keywords are strategically chosen and placed.

However, as we stated above, after your SEO practices are established, they will continue to pay-off after youíve taken the time to develop them. Therefore, the cost of SEO is more connected to your staffís pay and the time they have to dedicate to executing it.

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PPC:  Meanwhile, PPC requires a budget to remain visible on the search results page. However, PPC does offer budget control because it allows you to determine your ad spend before the bidding process begins, which keeps your spending from spiraling out of control.

To get the best results, optimize your landing page to increase your click-through rates. Also, keep in mind that you only pay the fee when someone clicks on your ad, which means youíre investing in people who are actually interested in your product or service.

Are you starting to see the difference between SEO vs PPC?

Page placement for PPC campaigns

SEO: Unfortunately for SEO, there are no guarantees that all of your SEO practices will get you to the top of the search results page. Your websiteís domain authority plays a major role in where you land on Googleís page.

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So, if you write on the same topics as highly popular sites, such as Forbes and Entrepreneur, it will be harder – albeit not impossible – to obtain page placement above them.

Don’t let that discourage you though. If you keep up with the latest search algorithms and are diligent with the content on your website, you can secure your spot at the top of the SERP. 

PPC:  PPC wins this section of hands down. With PPC, if you have a budget, youíll have a guaranteed spot at the top. Although there’s a common misconception that people don’t actually click on PPC ads,  an astounding 64.6 percent of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online. 

Grow Your Website Traffic by 484% in 3-Months

How to Launch a Successful PPC Campaign Everytime.

Time Investment and Your SEO vs PPC

SEO: Search engine algorithms – the rules that determine your search rank – are constantly changing. In fact, Google changes its algorithms 500 to 600 times per year (thatís more than once per day!).

There are innumerable factors that affect your rank ranging from the freshness of your content (how recently it was published) to how many backlinks your site has attained. All of these requirements can take a long time to perfect and build up for your site.

One other downside to organic search is that it can take months for your web pages to be recognized by search engines and start generating traffic. With all of this in mind, you must invest a lot of time to ensure a successful SEO strategy, which is why a lot of companies choose to outsource these efforts.

SEO vs. PPC
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PPC: Compared to SEO, the time needed to make it to the top of the SERP through a PPC campaign is much shorter.

In fact, after you decide to begin a PPC campaign, you could have your ads up on Google in as little as a day. However, even though your ads have the coveted spot at the top of the results page, you arenít guaranteed results so quickly.

A successful PPC campaign requires you to do extensive keyword research to ensure your ads will connect with the right audience.

After the ads are live, you should conduct multivariate testing to see which copy, colors or buttons will attract the most attention and earn the most conversions.

The most effective PPC campaigns are consistently monitored and adjusted to better resonate with your target audience.

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Targeting

SEO: The best way to reach your target audience with SEO is to conduct research on the needs and wants of your ideal customer, which will inform your keyword strategy. Y

ou should determine where, when, and how they find information, and then identify what they are searching for – this may be their current pain points, what they find entertaining, etc.

You can then ďtargetĒ these customers by writing on their desired topics, in their preferred media channel to increase the chances of them reading your content and visiting your site.

PPC:  PPC takes a more structured approach to target your ads. PPC advertising allows you to target consumers through keyword targeting (like SEO), language and location targeting, device targeting, and audience targeting through retargeting.

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is one of PPCís biggest pros. It allows you to attach a cookie to your websiteís visitors and then serves ads to those visitors after theyíve left your site.

The benefit of retargeting is that it focuses your ad spending on people who are already familiar with your brand and have previously visited your site.

SEO and keywords
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Source: Retargeter

Integrating PPC and SEO

When it comes to choosing between PPC vs SEO, you don’t always have to choose one or the other. Instead, you can combine PPC and SEO efforts into one digital marketing campaign that maximizes traffic and conversion opportunities.

The key here is to look at the similarities between the two methods and incorporate them to create a more efficient plan to improve your ranking.

By integrating PPC and SEO, you get the benefit of having an immediate spot at the top of a SERP through pay per click ads, while also building up a collection of content that you will own forever and will continue to work toward improving your organic presence online.

Your PPC ads will allow you to attract website traffic while you wait for your SEO efforts to slowly build your organic presence. Below, weíve included a few ways to merge PPC and SEO to improve your overall presence on the web. 

Combine Keyword with Data

As we previously mentioned, both SEO and PPC require strong keyword strategies to be successful. Instead of collecting keyword data separately for each method, teams should combine efforts to gain greater insights into their audience’s online behavior.  

Combining data allows you to learn more about what content your consumers are looking for and how they are consuming information. Using these insights can help you improve your content marketing efforts to create content that better resonates with your target audience. 

organic keyword search
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You can Own the Top of the SERP

It can be tempting to stop paying for PPC ads once you’re able to gain the number one spot on the SERP but resist the temptation. Having paid ads alongside your organic search listing gives the effect that youíre the most prominent option on the market. 

When your company dominates the top of the SERP, as Sephora does in the image below, it builds up your credibility and increases consumers’ trust which will inevitably improve your conversion rate.

In the screenshot below you can see where Matrix Marketing Group is ranking #1. They receive about 40 clicks per day. Not bad from one long-tail keyword.

The Matrix Marketing Group’s web dev folks used JSON Markup Language to help boost on-page SEO and it works.

colorado venture capital firms
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Everything you Do Digitally Should be Tested

Because PPC gives you a presence on the SERP immediately, you can use it to quickly test words that you want to rank for and determine which ones have the best conversion rate. 

Once you’ve identified what keywords have the highest conversion rate, you can use those insights to modify and optimize your organic search strategy as well. 

SEO vs PPC is very different. Your ads are immediately but content marketing gets you there too.

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General FAQ’s

What is SEO mean?

The term SEO (search engine optimization) is the method of making changes to your website design and content to help it appear in the search engines. By optimizing your website for the search engines, you can increase your visibility in the organic, or un-paid, search engine results.


What does PPC mean?

PPC stands for pay-per-click paid search (advertising). It is an advertising model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads†is†clicked. Essentially, you are buying visits to your website, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.†


What is paid search?

Paid search†is a form of digital marketing where†search†engines such as Google and Bing allow advertisers to show ads on their†search†engine results pages (SERPs).†Paid search†works on a pay-per-click model, meaning you do precisely that Ė until someone clicks on your ad, you don’t pay.


What is organic search?

The term†organic traffic†referred to the visitors that land on your website as a result of unpaid (ďorganicĒ)†search†results. Visitors who are considered†natural†find your website after using a†search†engine like Google or Bing, so they are not ďreferredĒ by any other website.


Is PPC better or organic traffic or paid traffic?

Paid search has its place. Pay-per-click advertising vs. organic (unpaid) search traffic because it has more value than traffic that is generated through paid click ads. If you stop spending money, all your search traffic goes away too. Content marketing gives you a keyword annuity for organic search traffic.

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