ARTICLE

SEO vs. PPC

..and why a hybrid approach is best.

When it comes to digital marketing, a lot of people want to know which is better, search engine optimisation (SEO) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC). There are a lot of factors to consider – like your business model, what you’re selling, your target audience, your ultimate goal.

But the truth is that both SEO and PPC are valuable, and have their place in your overall digital marketing strategy.

In most cases, a hybrid approach is best, but that doesn’t always mean you should come at it with an even split. Both SEO and PPC have their place, and both excel in areas where the other does not.

Read on for a closer look at Google Ads vs SEO to see what we mean.

WHAT IS SEO?

SEO is creating website content that search engine algorithms recognise as valuable to their users. Put another way, if the search algorithm believes a user would benefit the most from your content, your website will appear at the top of the first search page.

For example, an article read and shared by similar users or linked to from a variety of similar web pages has a good chance of being considered valuable.

So, while SEO is free in that it doesn’t cost any money, it can require a significant investment of time and effort. You have to create the content, and it needs to build a reputation to get noticed by the algorithm.

Luckily, by creating the content you need to improve your SEO, you give customers reasons to trust your brand. Informative blog posts, educational articles, and thorough answers to the questions they’re asking give you authority and demonstrate deep knowledge of your product, service, or industry.

In fact, this article itself is an example of SEO for SEOAdvantage.com.au.

As you continue to build trust, your website ranks higher and higher in search results, which makes you easier to find and increases your organic website traffic.

In the end, SEO is often more profitable than PPC simply because it’s more cost-effective. More users click through organic results than ads, and SEO is easier to sustain. New companies will find it difficult to show up and bump you out of a well-earned top spot in the search results.

But that’s the flip side to SEO. You have stiff competition going in. In this day and age, that likely applies no matter your industry or niche. It can take 3 to 6 months to over a year to see any results from SEO efforts, which is one of the main factors when deciding on SEO vs PPC.

So, yes, SEO has a lot of benefits and is worth pursuing. But it does take a lot of time and effort, and getting organic traffic is slow. No matter what you’re selling, it can be very difficult to rank, but that’s especially true if you’re aiming for the same keywords as large retailers or businesses with a killer SEO strategy that they’ve already spent years building.

WHAT IS PPC?

In terms of search engines, PPC ads are paid search results that appear at the top of the page above the organic (SEO-driven) results. The fact that it’s a paid search result is also highlighted with the word “Ad” before anything else.

According to Google, you can expect to make $2 for every $1 spent on the Google Ads platform. With PPC, you bid on keywords related to your products or services. The higher the bid, the higher on the search page you’ll appear. Whatever bid is set is how much you’ll pay when someone clicks on your ad. You set your budget, your target demographic, and a host of other customisation tools available through the Google Ads platform and other ad networks (like Yahoo and Bing).

PPC has much faster results than SEO because you’re immediately putting yourself out there. You’re not waiting to build a knowledge base on your website or monitoring how your newest blog post is performing while making changes to keywords. You’re out there right away because you’re paying to be.

Further, collecting valuable data happens fast with PPC. If you look at the stats and see that your ad was shown dozens of times and no one clicked on it, you can make changes in real-time. You can analyse the effectiveness of your sales funnel, continuously remind visitors of your brand through PPC display ads, and so much more.

PPC is an active marketing strategy where it pays to be on top of your ad performance. A PPC campaign can also be stopped instantly.

Despite its immediate results, PPC is not as expensive as you might think. A properly managed PPC account can operate at a low cost, especially if you have a product or service that’s niche and serves a select market or geographical area.

For example, if the value of a new customer is even just $100 and you’re paying $1 per click, you’d need to make a sale once every 100 clicks to profit. But, according to Google, you can expect to make a sale every 50 clicks.

On the other hand, PPC can be expensive. A PPC campaign that’s mismanaged can drive irrelevant clicks that don’t convert into customers. That means you’re paying for nothing.

Also, extremely competitive keywords (like law and real estate niches) can cost big per click. So much, it might simply be outside of your advertising budget at this phase of your business.

A HYBRID APPROACH

Instead of looking at SEO vs PPC, the most successful way to approach web marketing is to use a hybrid approach with PPC and SEO working together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

For example, if you have a hyper-local business like an ice cream shop in a small neighbourhood, SEO could really work to your advantage. How often are people in your area searching for ice cream specials? And how many other businesses in your area can be considered an authority on local ice cream? Competition is low and the product and region are specialised and small enough that SEO can be quite effective in this case.

But what if you opened up a new ice cream shop a few blocks over from the one in our example? If you need leads quickly and want to get to word out right away, PPC is the way to go. When someone in your neighbourhood turns to Google to find out when the first ice cream shop opens or what flavours they have today, your ad can be the first thing that shows up in the search results. Maybe they’ll see it and think, “Oh, a new ice cream shop! I had no idea there was another one in town. Let’s check it out!”

You can see how using both an SEO and PPC strategy are necessary for successful web marketing, and finding a good balance is key. There are also many ways that they can work together so that both are better than they would be alone.

In fact, you can collect data from PPC campaigns to inform your SEO effort. Figure out what the high-performing keywords are, and use them to your advantage. You can also test different copy on PPC ads, see which one works better to attract clicks, then integrate it into your SEO.

The best thing to do to reach a large audience and grow your business is to come up with a hybrid approach that works for you.

In the long run, SEO is a bare minimum essential to digital marketing. Over time, you can build your business’s reputation and become an authority in your field. But even making your contact and address information consistent across all web pages and garnering reviews improves your SEO. You can knock out a huge amount of SEO-friendly tasks in one day, then look into sourcing blogs or writing some articles yourself.

For immediate results, PPC is where it’s at. If you’re a new business and you need to draw attention today—or if you want to expand and get your name out there right now—PPC delivers instant results. And as long as your campaign is managed correctly, you can make it happen without breaking the bank or blowing your advertising budget in a short period of time.

If you need help figuring out how to balance your PPC and SEO strategies or coming up with the right approach, reach out to SEOAdvantage today. We strive to bring a fresh outlook to the industry and work with our clients every step of the way, keeping you in the loop as we work to take your business’s digital marketing approach to the next level.

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