Some of the highly demanding answers in digital marketing are associated with PPC versus SEO. Which channel is the absolute recipe for success? Which can bring the most effective deliverables? How to make the right decision while choosing either PPC or SEO as the best marketing strategy for my business?
The nature of those questions implies that there is a subliminal competition between organic and paid campaigns. How much of it is true?
What Is the Difference Between PPC and SEO?
To explain it briefly, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a long-term investment in increasing your brand’s visibility, driving organic traffic and high-quality leads to your website. SEO competes over the positions in SERP rankings in order to, in an ideal scenario, encourage Google to place your site on the first page of search.
According to the 2022 SEO Statistics report from Impact, 67.6% of all clicks come from the first 5 organic positions in the search engine results page, and only 0.78% of Google users decide to click on the second page. Another interesting insight is that 70% of marketers believe SEO is a more effective channel than PPC and 49% of specialists state that it has a better ROI than any other channel.
But before you are tempted to ditch PPC on the account of SEO, let us dig deeper into what paid campaigns actually entail. Pay-per-click (PPC) as opposed to organic strategy, is a process of advertising where the chosen medium (such as Google, Instagram or Facebook) is getting paid each time a potential customer clicks on your ad. Paid campaigns are also much faster than SEO and enable you to run A/B tests on ads.
On top of that, as explained by The Social Sheperd, PPC is able to generate twice as many visitors as SEO. When it comes to Google Ads, 63% of users have clicked on an ad and 65% did so when making a purchase. Google Shopping Ads campaigns have even more power, generating over 85% of clicks.
Pros and Cons of SEO
The concise introduction above gives you some basic information on what SEO and PPC can bring to the table. Now, let us focus on the pros and cons of each channel.
Certainly, one of the biggest advantages of SEO is its long-term profitable tactic. At the beginning you have to invest time, money and energy to optimise your website and create content of great value, but as you continuously work on these improvements, SEO produces results that last.
SEO is also a fantastic way to generate high-quality leads and reach a higher conversion rate. Organic clicks appear to be more valuable than PPC ones, having in mind other factors such as brand authority and matching the search query with the keyword your website is highly ranking for.
In fact, achieving the authoritative status and trust in your business is also a result of mainly organic efforts. How your brand appears to search engines, users and other websites impacts the number and quality of backlinks which subsequently, results in even higher scales in these rankings. This is especially important for the reason that consumers are more likely to choose a product or service from a business that has a good reputation and appears on other trusted sources.
Organic traffic is more steady as well. Successful optimisation strategy enables you to work on your desired position and eventually own it, keeping in mind natural fluctuations and granted that frequent improvements are in place.
Having said that, the advantages of SEO can bring some pitfalls too. For instance, you will need at least a few weeks or months to see the first results of your work with organic strategy. SEO specialists are also highly dependable on the algorithm change and will require some time to adjust the strategy according to the new directives introduced by the search engine.
Lastly, SEO consists of other important components such as copywriting, link-building and technical implementations. These processes can become an obstacle if you are not equipped with the professional team that knows how to navigate them.
Pros and Cons of PPC
PPC, on the other hand, can be the most successful practice if your objectives are time-sensitive. In fact, some processes associated with paid campaigns will require only as little as a few hours to bring first results. When necessary, this will also help you drive sales and attract visitors as it usually appears above the organic results, in the most visible location.
On top of that, paid strategy enables you to precisely target your desired demographics. Pinpointing things like age, gender, geographic location and even, interests and marital status can help you become highly specific and able to fine-tune your marketing strategy with extremely meticulous attention.
PPC also gives you space to test and experiment. In fact, A/B testing can be a truly game-changing factor for your brand if you are restricted by business limitations and expected to be able to assess the marketing performance before taking the next crucial step.
However, as with any channel, PPC also comes with certain disadvantages. One of the most acute cons of paid strategy is its cost. If you are convinced that running a PPC campaign is something for you, you need to have a solid budget and be prepared for different rates depending on your product or service as well as the competitiveness of the industry.
After some time, PCC can become stagnant and stale, blending with your competitors when your copy and choice of words would resemble them too much. On top of that, because of the nature of the strategy, the second the PPC campaign ends, your paid position in search results disappears.
How to Choose Between PPC and SEO?
So now that you know the key differences and similarities between PPC and SEO as well as the potential challenges and opportunities of each channel, how to choose? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not that straightforward as it largely depends on the type of business, budget and goals.
For instance, if you have some financial restrictions, PPC could be a more expensive option, as opposed to SEO, and it can get even more high-priced when you operate in the competitive industry. Obviously, the latter requires capital as well but what is important to highlight is that SEO is mostly focused on gradual, consistent work and long-term gains which can certainly pay you back in the long run. SEO is also the best solution if your goal is to build brand authority and produce content dedicated for the users at different sales funnel stages.
PPC, on the other hand, will serve you well when time and fast results are key factors in your marketing strategy. For example, If your product or service is quite new on the market or you are working on a time-limited offer, paid campaigns can successfully direct your target audience to the desired landing page or promote your content. PPC is also beneficial and effective if you want to quickly get ahead of your competitors and appear in the prominent placement in SERP without yet having an established domain authority.
The Benefits of an Integrated Approach to SEO and PPC
While analysing the benefits and disadvantages of each channel, it is also important to remember that there is a third solution that, possibly, would be the best option for your business objectives. Therefore, instead of making a decision whether PPC or SEO could be the solution you have been looking for, consider for a moment the potential outcome of implementing both. The results of such collaboration can be truly astounding.
For instance, integrating SEO and PPC can enlarge the search estate of your brand on SERP and increase the likelihood of clicks. This is due to the fact that the conversion rate is directly proportional to the amount of real-estate space on the first page of search engine results. Optimising your website for SEO aims to put your website on the first few positions in the organic rankings, whereas PPC is placing it usually above them.
According to Kelley Shelton, Vice President of Marketing at Boostability, and Jacob Baadsgaard, Founder & CEO of Disruptive Advertising, 89% of paid clicks are incremental to organic traffic and the exposure to both almost doubles the likelihood of visiting your website by the users. As explained by the speakers in the webinar, How SEO & PPC Work Together To Drive More Traffic To Your Website, websites achieving the top organic position in SERP, require 50% of incremental clicks from ads, ranking organically between 2nd and 4th position, 82%, and being on the 5th position and more, even 96%.
Both organic and paid campaigns also increase the online visibility of your brand, helping you build credibility and trust in your business. From the point of view of potential visitors, Google tends to only reward websites that are reliable, high-quality and authoritative within their niche. Solid presence and confidence in your brand, therefore, largely depends on where and how much it is exposed on SERP.
On top of that, an integrated approach to SEO and PPC means that you can get more perceptive information about your target audience. Data collected from fast-paced paid campaigns can provide you with insights about what kind of ad copy gets people to be more active and what keywords are worth investing in. Such knowledge is vital for tailoring the most effective SEO strategy.
Targeting and testing keywords is another rewarding benefit of the collaboration between both channels. For instance, you can use PPC ads and branded keywords to promote product announcements and new landing pages optimised for SEO. A cost-effective solution would be also to transfer important and high-volume, but expensive and low-converting keywords from paid to organic campaigns. Advanced SEO improvements of the landing pages can lower the cost per click. Lastly, such approach can create a seamless user experience by utilising relevant phrases in both campaigns.
As clearly explained above, there isn’t a cookie-cut answer whether SEO or PPC is more important for your digital marketing strategy. In fact, oftentimes this is not even the right question to ask as, in some cases, only in combination, both channels could bring you the results you have been dreaming about.
While making this decision, keep in mind your priorities and key objectives without disregarding the limitations your business can encompass. Consider what outcome you wish to achieve and what is realistic for your current marketing landscape. Understanding the potential opportunities and obstacles in both organic and paid campaigns can also help you determine which channel you should invest in first, and after what time span you can expect any deliverables.
Think about what other services can additionally support you in maximising your profits, generating leads and traffic. Maybe, in order to refine your current approach, you need to gather some insightful data with the help of our expertise in Data Analytics. Possibly, if you have limited resources, thanks to our assistance in Data Entry, you will be able to manage your means in a more sustainable way and direct your focus on the most important elements of your business. What about the Conversion Rate Optimisation increasing your stream of revenue? The potential lies in details.
If you need some further guidance on how to make the final call about your next steps in the realm of digital marketing, do not hesitate to contact us. Our international team of experts will help you construct the most effective strategy tailored to your needs and expectations.