Businesses that want to build an online presence know what it means to appear on SERPs. Showing up on Google can bring them traffic and conversions especially if they obtain higher rankings.
The competition is getting fiercer now that people prefer using a search engine to look for information instead of directly visiting websites.
Of course, how people research what they want hasn’t changed. First, they feel a need. Next, they proceed to a search engine, Google, and enter words or phrases that represent their need. As the results show up, they click on a page or two, hoping that any of these pages contain the answers to their dilemma.
Results on SERPs are not alike. What I mean by this is that there’s the “paid” type of results and the “organic” type. Paid listings are pay per click (PPC) ads while organic listings are the ones you never paid for to appear.
These two kinds of listings vary in their strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what we’re going to discuss because I want to help you understand how they can benefit you. Our topic will be about SEO and PPC marketing.
What is SEO?
SEO is a process or mix of strategies done for the purpose of ranking your blog posts or pages without paying for their placements. In other words, you appear on unpaid results if your content has the most relevant keywords and kind of information your potential visitors are looking for. There is more on white hat seo, black hat seo in some recent articles and the differences between them.
In the screenshot above, you will see that pages that haven’t been paid for to rank show up right beneath paid results or PPC ads. You can easily distinguish ads from organic results because ads have the label “Sponsored” while organic results don’t.
Though SEO and PPC marketing boost a business’ visibility, they work differently. The SEO process is a complex one because a search engine such as Google uses algorithms to determine whether your page deserves a higher organic placement.
At the same time, the pages you want to rank need to have certain factors or elements present in order to rise to the top of organic results.
Not all pages on the web are equally important in the eyes of Google, and so Google prefers to display the ones they think are most valuable to people.
In any SEO initiative, keywords are of primary importance. In fact, keyword research is one of the first things you need to learn. People in the past use keywords differently. Cramming websites with keywords were a common practice. Now that has become irrelevant.
Keywords need to be incorporated into every piece of content while keeping user experience in mind. This means that the overall context of your page should be related to your keywords and vice versa. User intent is also considered, which is why variations in keywords to match a person’s natural language matters.
On-page and off-page SEO
Strategies or techniques in SEO are divided into two main categories:
- On-page – Optimizations made on your website are on-page SEO. These include mentioning keywords in specific areas (title tags, images, URLs, etc.), increasing your website speed, and writing helpful content.
- Off-page – Off page SEO is more focused on techniques outside your website that boost its authority and exposure. You leverage link building as the prime strategy here. There are many ways to build links naturally and deliberately using good practices.
What is PPC marketing?
Pay per click or PPC marketing is another method of showing up on search and attracting traffic to your website where you leverage ads. It is named pay per click because you pay only when a searcher clicks on your ad.
Again, PPC ads appear on top of organic listings as Google clearly distinguishes both. See the screenshot in the previous section. Another thing that distinguishes PPC ads from organic results is the “Ad” label beside the page URL.
However, if in the absence of PPC ads, then an organic listing would show up first.
One way SEO and PPC marketing differ is that PPC requires bidding in order to ensure your visibility. You place a higher bid especially if you are targeting a more popular keyword which many other businesses are targeting at the same time.
Basically, the more popular and in-demand a keyword is, the more that keyword is going to cost you. When it comes to ad networks to host your ads, Google AdWords is considered the gold standard.
Most people who leverage PPC marketing have the goal of making a sale. Brands who are out to market their products in a faster way and generate a very targeted traffic will largely benefit from PPC ads.
Pros and cons of SEO and PPC marketing
By now you’re probably confused as to what method you should use to scale your business. Both SEO and PPC marketing can take you to the top of Google. Remember that.
However, each strategy is better at some aspects than the other. It’s a case-to-case basis. In this section, you will learn the pros and cons of SEO and PPC as we take a deeper dive into certain areas.
When it comes to click-throughs, the first five organic search results get 67.60% of all the clicks. The reason is that more and more users now recognize the difference between free and paid results. Not all people trust online ads because they come off as salesy.
But this isn’t always the case. PPC ads are more likely to get clicks from people who are close to becoming customers, which is why PPC works better for advertisers selling products. That said, people who click Google ads are those looking to buy an item online.
Therefore, it’s important that if you leverage PPC advertising, you should lead your visitors to a specific landing page where your offers are because that’s how you’re able to meet the goal of more conversions. If not, you’re only wasting dollars.
Real, lasting results take time. You cannot win at SEO overnight and it’ll take a lot of hard work. Yes, SEO is the long-term solution you need but it cannot get you the amount of traffic you expect in less time. Free traffic takes time to attract, especially with Google’s ever-changing algorithms.
You cannot build thousands of links in a day and expect Google to deem your website authoritative. Moreover, you cannot expect to create content once and hope that a flood of visitors will consume your work and keep coming back. Relationships take time to build.
PPC wins in terms of speed. It is possible that you appear on the first page of Google for multiple keywords. There is no quicker way to get right in front of your target customers than PPC marketing. Think of SEO as your long-term strategy and PPC for short-term wins as long as you can pay for it.
If you’re someone on a budget and would rather handle your marketing campaigns on your own, White hat SEO is the most affordable route. However, take note that just because you’re targeting organic positions and free traffic doesn’t mean you won’t spend on anything.
Growing a successful website requires the use of SEO tools that improve it in different areas. There are tools that check broken links, optimize your images, make sure that your content performs well on search, and more.
And sometimes you realize that you need those useful paid features. Also, you might decide to hire an SEO expert to do the work for you.
With PPC, you spend much more. Many factors affect the cost of your ad campaigns, such as the competition level and popularity of your keywords. But the good news is that you can pre-determine your budget. Also, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad, not sees it.
If you know how to properly use PPC, you’ll be able to attract people who are already looking for the products and services that you offer. This is the reason why PPC ads convert at 1.5 times the rate of organic clicks.
There will be instances in SEO where you will rank for some keywords that you didn’t intend to rank for in the first place. People who are looking for a different kind of information might stumble across your page because it contained the keywords they typed into Google.
As we compare SEO and PPC marketing, PPC has a clear advantage when it comes to targeting. You can choose the time of day when your ads are going to be displayed, the geographical location of your audience, and to retarget people who already visited your page.
Business owners who are new to the industry will want some instant traction by getting their name out as fast as possible. Increased brand awareness at a faster rate is a privilege when you’re doing PPC marketing. In a short span of time, you can get as many eyeballs as you like to your brand. I wrote more on Brand Magnetism as well for more advise.
Now don’t get me wrong. SEO is still the sustainable path to generating brand awareness. In fact, it’ll help you build trust and credibility in the long run even without you having to spend money on it. However, those benefits will be hard-earned especially if you’re dealing with a lot of competitors in your niche.
As someone optimizing a website for SEO, you know very well that it’s impossible to rank without content. Powerful content gives fuel to SEO. Through it, you attract quality backlinks, social shares, and improve your site’s chances of appearing on search results for a keyword.
SEO requires content creation. You need fresh content every time because that’s how search engines discover your site. A great deal of time and effort are invested in creating a piece of compelling content.
On the other hand, you don’t need to stress about regular content creation with PPC. PPC marketing isn’t as labor intensive as SEO, especially when it comes to content. You’re still going to create content in PPC but only for the landing page that you want to appear as your paid listing on SERPs.
Which one is better for your business?
Most people look at SEO and PPC marketing as enemies working against each other. It’s always SEO versus PPC.
If you want to gain a true edge in your marketing campaign now and for many years to come, you need to treat SEO and PPC marketing as comrades.
One provides more advantage than the other in certain areas. For example, PPC can get you instant brand awareness now while SEO can do it later with the added benefit of trust and authority.
The best way to go about it is to use search engine optimization and paid advertising together.
Doing this will allow the strength of one method to compensate the lack of the other.
What do I mean? Here are some ways:
- Content marketing – Focus on creating high-quality content and continually update your website with new ones. Make this your long-term strategy so that when you launch a PPC campaign, prospects will stay longer on your site and probably convert instead of hitting the back button.
- Retargeting – Bring back your first-time visitors to your SEO-optimized landing pages or product pages they left off by running a PPC campaign. This increases your chance of gaining revenue.
- Keyword research – Use a premium keyword research tool like Ahrefs to spy on the top keywords your competitors are ranking for. These keywords should be your target when launching your next PPC campaign. Or, you could utilize your site search data or the terms that your visitors frequently type into your search box.
- Conversion data – How well are your landing pages converting? PPC can help you test your brand messages and landing pages (titles, form fields, etc.). You can see what works and what doesn’t. You can integrate this knowledge if you want to redesign your website.
- Search engine presence – Since it will take months before you start seeing results from your SEO efforts, make use of PPC marketing now – especially if you have a profitable product that you want to promote ASAP. While you do that, continue to work on your SEO until you reach the top of Google organic results.
It may seem to you at first that SEO and PPC marketing are totally unrelated to each other. But the opposite is true.
Once you start seeing results with SEO after months of optimizing your website, it doesn’t mean that you can completely forget PPC. Can you invest some money in order to speed up your results? Then by all means leverage PPC’s targeting capabilities.
At the same time, don’t forget long-term value which is only possible with SEO.