If you’re new to digital marketing, you likely have questions about the differences between SEO and PPC. Both serve a purpose. But, depending on where your business website ranks, one or the other will be more useful. For the most part, businesses benefit from using both.
The marketing experts from Digital Authority Partners have graciously outlined the difference between SEO and PPC. Once you understand the details, you’ll be able to work more effectively with your digital marketing agency.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
Simply put, search engine optimization works to bring your business site to the top of the search results. But, SEO is much more than merely using keywords; it involves everything from text, load time, and back-end elements.
The goal of SEO is to persuade the search engines that your web pages are what people are looking for during their search. Furthermore, the search engines also assess your website for its structure and load time. Also, the number and quality of internal and external links undergo evaluation. Therefore, SEO is complex and can require analysis by an expert.
You need an optimized website to appear in “organic” search results. Organic search results are what turns up when someone searches a keyword. But as you can see, SEO involves more than simply using keywords.
Most people don’t look beyond the first page of results, making the advantages of a search-engine-optimized website obvious. But, of course, the number one advantage of SEO is tons of organic traffic.
Optimization dramatically improves your website’s click-through rate, meaning that more people will visit your site. Moreover, the traffic you’ll get will be highly-targeted and relevant. Targeted, relevant traffic equals a higher conversion rate and a higher return on investment.
Also, in the minds of consumers, a high ranking translates into greater recognition and trust. Some people assume that a high ranking is synonymous with high quality. That might be a flawed assumption, but it is an assumption some people make. There are many reasons you want your business site to rank on top.
The Disadvantages of SEO
There are no disadvantages to ranking at the top of the search queries. But, making it to the top is challenging. Doing so takes a lot of work, and there are no guarantees. Optimizing your website includes:
- Possibly change your website code. You and your visitors can’t see flawed code, but search engines can. You may need to have a technical SEO expert go over your site’s code, and that’s not cheap.
- Results are slow. Positive SEO results can take months to become apparent. It doesn’t happen overnight, which can be frustrating.
- There are no guarantees. No matter what you do, search engines can be unpredictable. You also can not predict how much extra traffic you’ll get if you make it to the top.
- SEO takes time and money. Even if you do all of the work yourself, SEO is an investment in time. Also, hiring an SEO expert can be costly.
Pay-Per-Click is the text ads you’ll see at the top of the search engines. As the name suggests, you only pay for the click-throughs your ad gets. Social media sites also use the pay-per-click model for their ads. So if you’re not on the top of the organic search results, PPC ads are a quick and easy way to get there.
Search engines use an auction model to place PPC ads for specific keywords. When you place an ad for your keyword, you’ll also set a maximum bid. For example, if your maximum bid is $1 per click, and someone offers $1.25, their ad will be above yours.
Depending on your keywords, PPC can either be inexpensive or outrageous. For example, an obscure keyword might go for 10-cents per click. But, highly-competitive keywords like “bail bonds,” “lawyer,” and “business services” can go for more than $50 per click. That can add up very, very fast.
To keep your PPC budget reasonable, make sure your audience is highly-targeted with less common keywords. For example, the simple keyword “lawyer” is likely to go for more than “admiralty lawyer.” Fine-tune your target audience to keep the cost down and increase your ROI.
When done right, PPC can have a very high return on investment. That’s because only those who are genuinely interested will click through. Although, this increases your chances that you’ll gain a new customer.
If you need an immediate boost in web traffic, PPC is an excellent way to go. While you wait for your organic rankings and traffic to improve, PPC can fill the gap. Pay-per-click can be a valuable complement to SEO.
The Disadvantages of PPC
The most significant disadvantage is the potential cost. Unless you do the proper research and refine your keywords, you can quickly burn through thousands of dollars and see little ROI. Also, you’ll need to monitor your PPC campaigns constantly, to make sure you don’t go over budget.
Also, simply because someone clicks on your ad doesn’t mean they’ll convert to a paying customer. Many people click on the first thing they see at the top of the search results. This searching tactic is the biggest reason why organic search results from SEO are much more desirable.
Combining SEO and PPC is the Best Option
Until your website SEO dominates, you’ll likely need PPC to get any traffic. Also, some of your pages may organically rank, while others don’t. In that case, PPC ads can give those pages a boost.
Whether it’s organic or paid traffic, popular keywords are highly competitive. So, in addition to your primary keywords, optimizing some pages for lesser keywords is a good strategy.
While you wait for your organic rankings to kick in, paying to be at the top of the searches can be worthwhile. You’ll reach people who may have otherwise never found your site. In this way, you’ll get immediate results to increase both your profits and brand recognition.
Launching a modest PPC campaign while your optimization is underway can be a great way to get the ball rolling. When done right, pay-per-click advertising can have a great return on investment.
However, the bottom line is you’ll likely need to do both SEO and PPC. Even when your site does rank organically for some keywords, it won’t rank for others. A creative marketing strategy that combines both can be reliable and cost-effective.