Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) can both be used in a marketing campaign to boost online traffic and sales. We like to think of SEO as being the strategic approach to online marketing and PPC as your tactical, fast response mechanism … SEO will get you where you want to be and keep you there over time in the “natural” or “organic” search results, PPC will get you there tomorrow, but at a cost every time someone clicks on your ad.
What is SEO and PPC advertising?
A search engine page is divided into two main parts: organic SEO results and paid search results (PPC advertising):
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation is the process or art of making a website achieve high rankings on search engine results pages (SERPS) for given keywords.
PPC – Pay Per click is where an advertiser bids on keywords associated with an advertisement in order to achieve higher position on search engine results pages (sponsored links section) for searches on that keyword.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of SEO and PPC advertising?
Research shows that around 70% of Internet users click on natural search results and only 30% of users click on paid search results. Organic results are seen to be unbiased and have a higher level of credibility because they are not paid for.
The higher the position on the SERP page (organic or PPC), the more trusted it is by searchers; the more clicks it will get. PPC was implemented to offer more high position opportunities on a single given SERP; basically the more you bid on a given keyword; the higher your advertisement is displayed for that search.
With an SEO campaign, there may be an initial set-up fee as you engage an SEO company to create an SEO campaign for your business but there is no cost per individual click or visitor. With a PPC campaign, the initial set up cost may be lower but there is a cost per click or visitor. You set your daily (and therefore monthly) bid, as well as individual bids on a keyword level. The greater your budget, the greater the traffic to your website will receive.
An SEO campaign ideally requires an SEO specialist or company to analyze the website, map out a strategy, implement the strategy and track the results and is accountable for your business. Using a SEO company to implement your SEO campaign frees your time and while your SEO company takes care of the campaign, you can spend your time managing and running your business.
With PPC, you can manage the campaign yourself but ideally you require a PPC specialist to manage the campaign to make sure that you have selected the best keywords, you are within budget and your campaign delivers the desired results. PPC campaigns are not a set and forget marketing tool. You actually do need to monitor the performance and make adjustments from time to time.
With an SEO campaign, there is no direct control over the ranking of a search engine and there is higher risk as there is no guarantee that you will improve your search engine ranking nor retain any improvements achieved. With PPC, you can have direct control over the position on the page depending on the outlay.
SEO shows all markets in the geographic area and displays results over a 24-hour basis while PPC can target just your geographic area and can be time specific and targeted eg midday to target people online during their lunch break
Changes to PPC campaigns are effective immediately whereas changes to a SEO campaign can take several days to change.
SEO cannot split test pages or track a click-through rate where a PPC campaign can track click-through rates and have different testing pages.
With SEO, popular keywords may take some time to get rankings – but you will benefit from longer tail keywords. For example, ‘plumbers’ is a main keyword and will take time to rank but ‘blocked drains cleaning Sydney’ is a longer tail keyword and can rank quicker. However, SEO results in continuous traffic over a longer period of time.
PPC can give an initial boost in traffic and is useful when launching a brand new website which is not yet appearing in organic results. However, when the campaign is over, the traffic stops immediately.
SEO and PPC can be used in collaboration to boost a website’s traffic and are equally important to a marketing campaign when launching a new website or a new marketing campaign. Once the website starts appearing on web search engines and its rank starts climbing, the budget on the PPC can be reallocated to other products or services.
SEO is a long-term, cost-effective strategy and PPC is a short term, call-to-action campaign to create an initial boost to traffic and quick return on investment. Over the long-term organic SEO or natural search engine optimization will give you a higher return on your marketing dollar.