SEO or PPC – What’s Right For Me?

Ayrton Anderson

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Which channel suits you best, whether individually or combined, depends on your time, budget, resources, margins, and skill set in the respective areas. Understanding how each form of marketing works, what should be done when and how it should be done, will affect your decision. Being adaptable, following trends and doing what you believe is best for your business at that moment in time is the key.

To do this, however, you need to know initially how both SEO and PPC work, what the differences are, and what the best ways to capitalise on each strand are. Once you have a grasp on this, you’ll always be one step ahead of the game, and more importantly, be armed with the ability to fight at the top in this ever-changing business climate. is it as simple as SEO versus PPC?

The difference…

SEO and PPC have their differences but they’re not too difficult to get your head around. Essentially, Pay-Per-Click is exactly what it says on the tin. You pay for every click on your ad. PPC adverts appear at the very top of Google, above all organic search results, and they can also appear below them. They’re rather handily tagged with a little box with the word ‘Ad’ inside it, and though they are harder top spot these days their format and position still give them away. On the other hand, organic results are enhanced by SEO, which you don’t pay for (sort of, we’ll go into more detail on this later).

They compete for their exact place on Google because of Search Engine Optimisation. So to clarify for PPC, you will need a budget to bid on key terms to ensure your Ad appears, while for SEO there is no cost per click expense. You hope to appear to satisfy the needs of people searching for those key terms.
To really understand which strand excels where, however, it is best to pit them against each other. SEO vs PPC.

The Benefits of SEO Compared to PPC

Improved user experience (UX), Improved SEO – If you design your website correctly, make it attractive, easy to navigate and it answers your visitor’s questions, then you have the ingredients for a UX that Google will love. Low bounce rates and good visitor interaction means you are doing your bit, and as always, if Google thinks you’re doing your bit well, then it’ll reward you with higher positions in the search rankings. Google measures metrics so how many people stay on your landing pages, go to other pages on your site, convert by buying your product or filling out a form – these are the metrics they use to assess good user experience.

Statistically better traffic – If your site is ranking highly in Google for a particular search term, then you can be confident in saying that your page is helpful for the user, and is one of the most helpful sites around when it comes to fulfilling a users’ need. Therefore, if you’re ranking high, you can bet your bottom dollar that you are going to attract quality leads that require the information, services or product you provide. PPC also has another hurdle to overcome when it comes to attracting users who have searched on Google. There have been studies that indicate that the overwhelming majority of Google searches ended with an organic page 1 click. 71.33% searches are the ballpark figure. This means that PPC clicks are lost amongst the other 28.77% of clicks, which could be anything from searching for something else, clicking on page 2 or 3, or clicking on PPC ads.

It is suggested that 70–80% of people ignore paid search results altogether after a search has been made, as users train themselves to skip over the Ad section completely, due to a mindset that a paid for ad is not going to help more than a naturally ranking ad. The consumer does not want to be sold to – they want their attention earned.

IT’S FREE(ish)! – One of the main draws to SEO is that once set up, it is free. You in a sense do not have to pay a penny to get traffic to your site via Google search. Your site is ranked in that position on Google, readily available to be found and clicked on for free. With PPC however, you must ALWAYS pay for every click your Ad receives, no matter how expensive or cheap it is. The issue with SEO however, is that it costs money to get to that particular point, which could be paying for someone to optimise internally or externally, the cost of tools used, and the hours put into SEO could be missed opportunity elsewhere. All of this work, however, has the sole aim of reaping the benefits long term, where less work will be required. The initial outlay of resources must be maintained with content marketing and updating the website but this is best practice to satisfy your audience anyway so hopefully will already be in your marketing budget.

Vice Versa

It may seem like SEO is, therefore, the way forward and is where money is best placed, but don’t jump the gun just yet. PPC itself provides a whole host of benefits and advantages over its counterpart, and it can most definitely be a viable form of marketing.

Instantaneous results – SEO is a tough task and a time consuming one at that. Finding the time, money and resources to really get a strong SEO campaign going will sometimes just not fit a business’ forward plans. Instead, instant results may be needed, and that is where PPC comes into its own. PPC campaigns, when set up correctly and efficiently, begin to accrue results straight from the off. The minute a campaign is created and activated, results start appearing and your ad is in circulation. This means that If you can set up your ad to be profitable, then you can make a profit from the off, and start blowing your competitors out of the water and leaving them in your paid Ad dust.

Unmatched visibility – PPC allows your Ads to be hosted on Google partner sites, such as YouTube, and on other useful sites that a potential buyer may find themselves. If a user was to come across your product earlier in the day and not act upon it, then your paid Ad has the ability to essentially follow that lead. They could be watching videos or reading a blog later that day, and just like magic, your Ad can appear on the sidebar, giving it the opportunity to try and sway the user towards your product or service.

Full Ad control – The Ads which you create are fully tailored to exactly your specification. You can say what you want (to a certain extent), how you want and what you want to pay for your Ad. You can add add-ons such as call extensions, URL pathways and site link extensions, all of which will make your advert as informative as possible. The more informative your Ad, the more likely a user is to click. Add-ons such as URL pathways and sitelink extensions are demonstrated in our own ads, as you can see below.

paid ad search snippet


So back to the burning question that everyone wants to know. Which strand is right for me? And whilst it can depend on your business, and how the pros and cons of each strand compliment it, some of the best results can come from an integration of the two.

Remember the instantaneous result of PPC? Well, why not combine that instant keyword data, and use it in your SEO campaign. The results you get will give you an idea of how each keyword performs, what works and what doesn’t, and gives you confidence that you’ll be going in the right direction with your organic campaign.

Do you also remember the statistics for the click percentages on Google? Well, these stats increase when you have two Ads on one page. Combining the Ads together means that your visibility increases and there is a statistically higher chance that one of those Ads gets a click. Having two results at the top of Google sends a user’s trust levels sky high, as they will view your company as a reliable, trustworthy brand and a useful resource for the information they need.

As you can see from the example above, when searching for ‘blue footwear’, Next dominate the search results. The chances of a click are huge as you immediately think that this brand will deliver the right results for me, seeing as that is what Google has showcased.

Even if you don’t want to run each strand at the same time, you can interchange and play to the strengths of each, maintaining results but reducing the spend. PPC can grow initial brand awareness and provide instant results, and as your brand awareness grows, you can slow down the payments, and invest more time and pump more resources into SEO.

The Verdict

Instead of SEO vs PPC, think SEO and PPC. Sometimes, you don’t have to pick out the best one for you. Instead, merging two forms together to create your own unique style of marketing can set you apart from the rest of the competition. You can start off with low PPC budgets and accumulate the data you need to progress your campaign, so you are not throwing money away as you learn. Both SEO and PPC are difficult to master, time-consuming and resource exhausting, and can give even the best marketers a tough time. But when done right, they can be a match made in marketing heaven.

If you need help with your PPC or SEO then an agency might be the best option for you. Factor in the time and money you will need to do it in-house and weigh that up against getting an expert onboard to handle the channels for you. Ensure you remain Return On Investment (ROI) focused and that way you will know whether it is worth yours or an agencies time!

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