Which is better, SEO or PPC? This is a great question which we often hear from small businesses who want to increase their online traffic. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing are two of the most effective ways of driving traffic to your website, and although their end goal is often the same, they vary greatly.
PPC marketing refers to paid advertising programs such as Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Marketing. Essentially, it allows you to bid for ad space in the sponsored results section on each of the search engine's results pages. You then pay a fee each time a user clicks on your ad to visit your website. It's worth noting that Google, and other search engines, do have measures in place to help prevent invalid clicks (competitors repeatably clicking your ads) so that you're not incorrectly charged.
SEO on the other hand is all about driving traffic to your site via organic search as opposed to paid ads. This is done by optimising your website and it's content via multiple online marketing means so that it natually ranks higher for your relevant keywords in the organic search results. SEO may require more time and effort but the results are well worth the investment.
Now that we've (very) briefly explored the differences between the two, we'll highlight a few of their advantages and disadvantages.
PPC (PAY-PER-CLICK) ADVANTAGES
Depending on your budget and experience, PPC will typically have your ads at the top of your chosen search results almost immediately. This is extremely useful for new websites or for businesses who are new to market.
Reach The Right Consumer At The Right Time
PPC gives you the control to deliver targeted ads to specific people in specific locations at a specific time. Using social media advertising you can even go as far as targeting specific demographics, genders and age groups.
Protection From Algorithm Updates
Unlike SEO, PPC ads aren't affected by search engine algorithm updates. So when Google changes it's algorithm, which it's known to do from time to time, your advert will be unaffected meaning you'll maintain your steady stream of visitors.
PPC (PAY-PER-CLICK) DISADVANTAGES
PPC Can Be Expensive
If PPC campaigns aren't correctly setup and managed, they can become very expensive and deplete budgets quickly with the user seeing little return on investment.
People Are Skeptical Of Adverts
Think about it, how many times have you avoided clicking on a link because you knew it was an advert? Generally speaking most people look upon adverts with a skeptical eye and would prefer to discover the right product for themselves.
Once The Money's Gone
One of the main disadvantages of PPC is that it needs constant funding. Once you turn off the tap and your budget is gone so are your adverts.
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION) ADVANTAGES
Long Term Benefits
An effective SEO campaign requires effort and patience, and getting to the top of the search results won't happen overnight. But once you do get there you'll start to reap the benefits of a high, organic, search ranking which will provide you with a sustained and steady flow of traffic. Furthermore if you maintain and improve your SEO campaign over time you can solidify your ranking position to ensure a long term return on investment.
SEO is the most cost effective way to increase traffic to your website as there are zero costs per click. The on-going costs of a well executed SEO campaign can also undercut the cost of a PPC campaign, especially if the SEO campaign is properly maintained.
Credible and Trustworthy
A strong SEO ranking can help build trust and credibility for your website. As previously mentioned users trust organic search results over paid for links, so if you can get your website ranking high in organic searches, chances are you'll see a higher increase in traffic. Also, high organic rankings can establish you as an authority within your niche which can add value to your website and further increase your credibility.
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION) DISADVANTAGES
SEO Takes Time
A well formulated SEO strategy takes time and a lot of effort which is a big disadvantage if you're looking for immediate results.
Susceptible To Algorithm Update
Unlike PPC, search engine algorithm updates can have a huge impact on SEO rankings. If the SEO on a website has become dated, or if controversial techniques have been used, a website which was once ranking high can disappear from the search results overnight due to an unforeseen update or improper monitoring.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Deciding which approach is best for your business relies on several factors. If you're looking for an immediate result and have a sizeable budget to work with, a well optimised PPC campaign may be your preferred option. However if your budget is limited and you can afford to invest time in chasing high organic search rankings, then an effective SEO strategy is your best bet. Ultimately your decision will depend on your budget, timeframe and the current state of your website. In an ideal world, and if your budget allows it, the best option would be to use a combination and reap the benefits of both.
For further advice on SEO or PPC feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.