The dominant role that Google now plays in many of our lives can scarcely be doubted; indeed, you might have even used the search engine to discover this article. However, with billions of searches being performed every day around the world, you’ve got some serious competition to overcome if you want your own brand to rank well on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
Often, there’s one three-word question that online business owners end up asking themselves when they’re attempting to decide how best to market their firm through Google: SEO or PPC?
Those two acronyms stand for search engine optimisation and pay-per-click, and it’s fair to say that they can both be extremely powerful means of getting more eyeballs to see your brand. But the question of which method would be best for your own company is hardly a simple and easy one to answer, as so much depends on your brand’s circumstances, marketplace and goals.
So in a nutshell, what are the differences between the two?
Basically, SEO gets organic traffic to your site, whereas PPC is all about attracting paid traffic.
This immediately makes for certain key differences. By its very nature, PPC requires you to pay money for traffic – it’s literally called ‘pay-per-click’, after all. It’s a form of advertising – perform a search for any of a wide range of companies, products or services, and you’ll see such paid ads at the top of the results page, even above the organic results. With PPC, your brand, too, could appear here.
SEO, on the other hand, is technically free, at least in the sense that you aren’t directly paying for each time someone clicks on your link when they discover you through a Google search. But of course, in practice, it’s not quite as simple as that. There’s a good chance that you’ll need to invest a lot of time, effort and patience into achieving the rankings you want for particular keyword searches – and even then, nothing’s absolutely guaranteed when it comes to SEO.
Indeed, it’s well worth reemphasising those words “time” and “patience”. You’ll need a good amount of both if you are to obtain results from SEO, as it’s not the work of a moment for Google spiders to crawl your site and adjust the rankings for certain keywords accordingly.
PPC, by contrast, delivers immediate results. The moment you start to run adverts on Google, you’ll be able to see your site at the top of relevant search results – provided, and this is the big catch, that you’re willing to pay enough for the particular keyword to make it happen.
Both SEO and PPC have their pros and cons
While there are major differences between SEO and PPC, they also have certain things in common – not least their sheer power in terms of generating brand awareness and visibility.
Sure, if you want to make sure users will definitely at least see your ads – even if they ultimately opt to scroll past them – you can’t really beat PPC. But a well-executed SEO campaign, based on well-researched and carefully targeted keywords, can also be very effective for making more potential customers aware of your brand.
Such is its organic nature, though, that SEO will always be a slightly scattershot way of trying to target the most relevant customers. Even if you do all of the ‘right’ things in terms of optimising your site’s pages, writing compelling blog posts and articles for people to find through Google searches, and accumulating backlinks from reputable sites in your industry, you might still only end up on the second or third page of the SERPs for a given keyword.
So, if you want at least a degree of certainty in terms of the results that you achieve from your marketing expenditure, again, PPC fares well. And yes, you do have to pay for that relative certainty, but even that’s hardly a disaster, given that PPC does allow you to tightly control your budget. You can set a fixed limit in terms of how much you’re willing to spend each day, for example, so that you don’t end up burning through your budget, as could otherwise happen so easily with PPC.
What about the slightly longer-term prospects?
Now, given that PPC enables you to create and ramp up an impactful campaign in mere days and weeks, instead of the months and months it can take SEO to give you meaningful rankings, you might imagine it comes with some sort of catch in terms of longevity.
Well, there is the simple fact that as PPC is based on adverts, the moment you stop paying, your ads will disappear, causing your lead generation from PPC to vanish with it. Organic traffic tends to be slightly more robust by comparison, although changes to Google’s algorithms over time mean your exact rankings for particular search terms are liable to fluctuate constantly.
Both SEO and PPC, then, really require constant attention and/or investment if you are to keep on getting worthwhile results from them. In the case of SEO, though, you’d be at least likely to see a merely gradual decline in your traffic if you were to suddenly quit your SEO campaign, instead of the sharp drop that would be experienced if you were dependent on PPC and then ceased using it.
Both SEO and PPC have their parts to play
The short answer to the question of “should my brand use SEO or PPC?” is that both marketing methods are proven and effective; however, it is impossible to provide a definitive answer without greater knowledge of your brand’s specific circumstances and requirements.
Indeed, in an ideal world, your brand would probably stand to benefit most from an integrated digital marketing strategy that makes the most of SEO and PPC’s respective benefits in unison.
There is a wide range of ways in which the two can synergistically support each other. For instance, you could test keywords through PPC before incorporating the successful ones into your long-term SEO strategy, or ditch the highest-cost keywords from your PPC efforts, using them for your organic search optimisation efforts instead.
Would you appreciate advice and guidance from our own experts here at Success Local, on whether SEO or PPC is the most suitable choice right now for your online marketing needs? If so, simply give us a call now, on 01455 367 100.