SEO vs PPC: Which One Should I Choose?
Building a website involves a significant investment of time and money. After making that investment, it is important that your website attracts plenty of visitors and delivers an excellent return on investment.
The best way to ensure your website attracts visitors is by using a digital marketing strategy. This will involve a variety of techniques to promote your organisation and attract visitors to your website.
The most popular techniques used as a part of a digital marketing strategy are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Both techniques can be effective, but use very different approaches. This guide will compare SEO and PPC to help you understand which approach is best for your organisation.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) uses a various techniques to improve your website’s visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. When SEO is used successfully, your website will appear a higher position on search engine results pages for the keywords you are interested in ranking for. This leads to more visitors to your website from search engines like Google and Bing. The primary goals of SEO include:
Improving website visibility
Steps will be taken to make it easier for search engines to find your website and scan all of the pages that it contains. These steps include making technical changes on your website and submitting information about the website to various search engines.
Helping search engines understand what is on each page
SEO is used to make it easier for search engines to understand the contents of each page on your website. These techniques include using meta data to describe the page, adding informative tags to images, and using headings on each page. By having a greater understand of what is on the page, the search engine will be able to index each page more effectively and rank it for the appropriate keywords.
Improve rankings for specific keywords
SEO will involve identifying specific keywords that your organisation wants to rank for, then optimising existing pages or creating new pages to rank for those words. SEO campaigns also involve link building, where various techniques are used to create external links that point to your website. These links will help your website’s pages rank well for specific keywords.
Improving the speed of the website
The speed of your website can impact how well it ranks on search engines. SEO often involves technical changes that make your website more responsive.
Improving link equity
Search engines use the number of links going to and from a page to determine its value and authority. These factors will play a role in determining how well each page ranks in the search engine results pages (SERP). SEO specialists may change how links on your website are used to improve how rankings. This might include changes to menu systems, altering external links, and adding or removing internal links. Link building campaigns will be used to attract links from external sources.
Advantages of using SEO
- Once you are ranking well, the website traffic you receive is free or very low cost (a very high return on investment)
- Websites that rank higher have more credibility in the eyes of users (they trust Google)
- Your organisation’s brand awareness improves
- SEO tends to pull in high quality traffic that is likely to convert
- SEO usually leads to a significant increase in sales and leads
- Top SEO rankings provide 24/7 promotion of your website
- SEO is a viable long term strategy
- A high listing on search engine results can often deliver more clicks than paid ads
- Many customers often prefer to use search engine results to find businesses. Having good SEO helps you capture these customers.
- It is simple to measure the results that SEO is delivering for your organisation
- Your competitors are doing it – potentially taking a large share of your customers
- SEO gives you access to customer data through website analytics, including their location, age, and browsing device. This information can be very useful.
- The results are long term (usually)
- SEO can also improve offline sales
- SEO helps you beat big companies on a small budget
- It increases the value of your business, because high search rankings are quite valuable
- SEO can make your organisation an authority in its niche
Disadvantages of using SEO
- It can take a significant amount of time to improve SEO rankings
- While the ROI can be fantastic, it may take a long time to achieve
- Certain keywords are extremely difficult to rank for
- Search engines often change their rules, which can suddenly affect your rankings
- SEO requires a big investment if you are in a highly competitive niche
- No guaranteed results. Your business may never rank on the 1st page for certain keywords
- Risk of being penalised if a search engine believes you are operating unethically
- Changes need to be made whenever search engines update their algorithm
What is Pay Per Click advertising?
Pay per click is a form of advertising where you pay a fee every time your advertisement is clicked. It is a way of buying visitors for your website, rather than earning them “organically” through techniques like SEO.
The most popular form of PPC advertising programs are offered by search engines like Google. When using Google’s platform, you can bid for ad placement on their search results pages or other people’s websites for a specific keyword. If your bid is high enough, your advertisement will be displayed and you will have to pay Google each time a user clicks on it.
For example, you might place a bid of €1 on a phrase like “hotel bookings London”. If your bid is high enough, it will appear on Google’s search engine results page when users search for “hotel bookings London”. If a person clicking your advertisement results in them booking a €200 a night room, you will have made a significant return on investment.
Advantages of PPC
- You can reliably obtain a position on the front page of search engines
- PPC campaigns come into effect immediately
- PPC only costs you money when a user clicks an advertisement
- Great for short term campaigns targeting specific keywords
- Good return on investment if well targeted
- Can be used to obtain initial customers
- PPC is easy to measure and track ROI
- You have complete control over what you spend and can make adjustments quickly
- PPC can work well with other forms of digital marketing
- You can precisely target a specific demographic
- PPC gives you useful marketing data
- Easy to set a budget
- Your organisation won’t be dependent on search engine algorithms
- Excellent for targeting local customers
Disadvantages of PPC
- Running a PPC campaign correctly is complex and time consuming
- The costs of PPC are ongoing
- PPC often has a lower ROI than other types of digital marketing (like SEO)
- Very expensive to use PPC for competitive keywords
- Clicks and visits often don’t convert to sales
- Some users become blind to ads or they use ad blocking software
- Users are skeptical of advertisements
Should I use SEO or PPC?
Both SEO and PPC are very effective techniques for promoting a website. Many organisations find that using a combination of these techniques delivers the best possible results. For example, your organisation could:
- Use SEO for keywords that are easy to rank for, while using PPC for more difficult keywords.
- Use PPC when launching your new business then switch to SEO once you are established.
- Use PPC to target a very specific subset of consumers while using SEO to target the general public.
Combining the two techniques in this way ensures that your website always had a steady stream of visitors — which means more leads and more sales.
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