An age-old question in the world of digital marketing is “Which is better: PPC or SEO?” And our response is almost always “It depends, but usually both.” While this may sound like a bit of a cop out, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer – it all comes down to what will work best given the unique factors that make up your industry, company and product or service.
What we can say is that a two-pronged approach will offer the best results most of the time for most businesses.
Well, SEO and PPC are complementary marketing models, each with their own pros and cons. When used in conjunction, they can effectively bolster the other’s weak points, maximising your chances of hitting all your business goals in the short as well as the long term. Read on for a quick primer on the basics principles of SEO and PPC and find out how you integrate them into your marketing strategy.
What are the benefits of SEO?
SEO is the practice of raising the visibility of your website via organic (unpaid) search engine results. About 67 percent of all clicks on search engine result pages go to the top five listings, while the first page receives around 95 percent of web traffic. To get in on this action, you need your brand to appear as high up the results page as possible when a prospect types a business-related query into a search engine.
- Long-term visibility
Perhaps the great advantage of SEO is its longevity. Unlike PPC, there’s no expiry date on SEO content, making is sustainable and – if executed correctly – very profitable over the long term.
- Strengthen brand
Smart SEO content not only helps clients find your company on search engines but can also play a key role in positioning your brand as an authority in your space. Blog posts, FAQs, and how-to guides all lend credibility to your brand, which can increase your chances of conversion.
- Cost effective
It does take a while to start seeing results with SEO, but after the initial groundwork has been laid the clicks are more or less free. SEO traffic is organic, meaning there’s no direct cost per click or lead as there is with PPC, which makes SEO more financially sustainable over the long term.
What are the benefits of PPC?
Whereas SEO is more of a long-term investment, PPC is geared toward getting results in the here and now. PPC allows you to immediately get eyeballs on your product or service, and highly customisable targeting options ensure your efforts are focused in all the right places.
- Instant visibility
Launching a new product? Need instant feedback? Running a flash sale? Sometimes you simply don’t have the time to build up a marketing campaign. PPC excels in these situations, giving your brand an instantly visible platform.
- Better analytics
Search engines do a pretty good job of concealing organic search metrics in the name of user privacy. However, the same rules don’t apply when it comes to PPC, giving analytically savvy marketers deep insight into which keywords are converting, ROI and more.
- Budgeting consistency
While the leads generated by PPC do come at a cost, the ability to cap daily spend ensures the marketing budget doesn’t get out of hand. Combined with smart, localised keywords, PPC really can deliver fantastic ROI.
A case for using both SEO and PPC
As you can see, SEO and PPC have their own strengths and weaknesses and work best when used in synergy. PPC offers instant results and the information you gain from PPC campaigns (whether it’s A/B testing, analytics information or keyword data) can be used to fuel deeper SEO strategy. Using a combination of SEO and PPC also strengthens your contact points, allowing you to more effectively guide prospects through the funnel from initial awareness all the way to conversion.
So, SEO and PPC should be used in tandem. But how can you start applying them to your business?
While SEO is a pretty deep field, the good news is that there are many things you can do yourself to start optimising your website. Applying the fundamentals of on-page SEO (keywords, meta tags, SEO-friendly headlines and more) are critical for helping search engines understand what your website is about, which in turn can help you climb the results ladder.
In addition, creating a Google My Business listing, maintaining a Facebook business page and establishing your company in local online directories can add more authenticity to your brand, which can further boost visibility. Finally, working toward developing a backlink strategy (that is, links on other websites that point to your website) can also do wonders for your search engine rankings.