SEO vs PPC: Which to Focus on & Why | Visible
July 9, 2020

SEO vs PPC: Which to Focus on & Why

When you start looking at solutions to boost your traffic from Google, you eventually arrive at the big question: “Should I invest in Google PCC or SEO?”.

Hold up, what’s PPC and SEO?

Let’s just quickly recap what these abbreviations actually mean.

PPC refers to Pay-Per-Click campaigns managed through Google Ads. These are keyword based ad campaigns. The keywords in your campaign tell Google what searches you want to show up in. Then every time a user searches for a keyword you’re bidding on, Google runs the ad auction to determine which ads show where. Each time your ad is shown and a user clicks, you’ll pay a fee to Google, with click costs ranging anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds depending on how competitive the market is.

SEO refers to Search Engine Optimisation, which basically means carrying out activities that will help improve your website’s visibility and trust with Google. This can be broken down into:

  • Technical SEO; ensuring your website is technically optimised for Google and there are no issues that affect how their bots can access and read the content.
  • Onpage SEO; ensuring all website content is optimised for relevant keywords to help Google determine what searches your content should show for.
  • Offpage SEO; actively building links to your site to demonstrate trust and authority from other sources (things like reviews, mentions in articles, recommendations from other companies’ sites etc.)

Let’s Compare the Pair

Looking at it simply, traffic from SEO is Organic, so it’s free aside from what you’re spending with an SEO specialist. Whereas with PPC you’ll be paying for every click as well as the cost for a specialist to run your ads, which can really start to add up and often isn’t sustainable for most businesses.

Investing in quality SEO however, should help build strong rankings and visibility in the long term and save you from relying on increasing click costs across Google PPC. Seems like SEO is the clear winner, right? Well don’t jump the gun that quick! That’s not quite the full story…

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is a long-term commitment. It offers great organic results, but never over night. It will take months, if not years, to get the rankings you want. And depending on what niche you’re in and the keywords you’re targeting, you could be facing incredibly fierce competition which may prevent you from ever achieving significant results.

Pros of SEO

Branding: The more searches your website shows up in, the more likely people are to see your brand and engage with it.

Credibility and trust: Having strong organic rankings indicates a certain level of authority and helps you build credibility and trust with users. People also tend to trust organic results more than ads, so you’ll notice better quality traffic from organic.

Cost: Look, we’re not going to say that SEO is cheap. But it is often more cost-effective in the long-run *depending on your niche*. Even though it’s a long term investment, the ROI tends to be much higher than with paid advertising.

Sustainability: One of the best things about SEO is that your rankings shouldn’t just vanish as soon as you stop pumping money into it. If your marketing budget gets cut, you can still reap the benefits of search engine optimisation.

Improved CTR (click-through rate): Many users are more likely to click on (top ranking) organic results over ads.

Unlimited scope: There’s only so many ad clicks you can pay for within your budget. But with proper keyword research and content creation, you can cover a wide range of terms and queries through SEO, making your brand visible to a bigger audience.

Cons of SEO

Time: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: SEO requires a lot of time to start working for you in the best possible way.

Competition: If you’ve just started out your business and are competing with keywords that show results dominated by corporations and industry giants, your chances of ranking on the first page are very low, no matter how hard you work at it.

Content requirements: For good SEO, you need good content and the standards are only getting higher. Long gone are the days when you would flood a blog post with keywords and get good rankings. Google’s bots are getting smarter every day. For good SEO, you need to have the proper resources to generate high-quality content.

Link Building is hard: Inbound links is one of the biggest trust signals Google uses to determine ranking position. It’s basically a way of establishing online word of mouth, so the more people that are linking to you (or talking about you) the more trusted Google thinks you are. However sustainable (aka non-dodgy) link building requires a huge amount of time and effort.

Google Pay-Per-Click

After reading all the advantages of SEO, you might be wondering why businesses would choose paid clicks. There are a few advantages of PPC that suit some businesses better than others – it all depends what your strategy is and what your target audience looks like.

Pros of PPC

Position: This is the most obvious one. With PPC, you get a top position on the results page, which makes it very tempting, especially for newer/smaller businesses who are trying to get in the game fast. Also, with most of us searching on mobile, ads can often take up the full screen so you might steal more clicks of those of us who are too lazy to scroll down.

Speed: While SEO takes a long time to build, PPC can launch immediately and gain real momentum in just a few weeks or even days (depending on your spend). It’s very easy to reach customers when they are ready to buy. You can also get quick feedback on what’s working and what’s not if you’re trying to launch a product or a new marketing message.

Tailored ads: Since PPC is advertising, you have a lot of control over the look and feel of your ads, so you can make them very attractive to your target audience. You also get more space for delivering your message and adding in your details (phone numbers, locations, site links, pricing and bullet points).

Flexible targeting: PPC allows you to target search keywords, time of day, day of the week, geography, language, device and audiences based on previous visits. That’s far more than what SEO offers in terms of targeting.

Testing: Paid search allows you to experiment and run split-test ads to determine what works best for your business. All the data you collect from ads can be then used within other marketing channels.

Cons of PPC

Cost: PPC can be expensive. It’s especially true for campaigns that are trying to target an international audience, not properly optimised or operating in an extremely competitive niche. It also involves continuous investment – no money, no leads.

Competition: The number of advertisers on Google Ads has steadily increased over the years, so a top of page ranking is never guaranteed. You might end up in a costly bidding war with other businesses who are trying to show up for the same search terms. In some niches/industries, fierce competition has forced click costs through the roof!

Constant monitoring: if you want to make PPC cost effective, you need to constantly check performance, bids, quality and CTR, as with any form of digital advertising. If you lack the time to learn how to do these things, you will need to hire an expert, which, again, can get quite expensive.

So, SEO or PPC?

Well as you’re probably already figuring out: IT DEPENDS and you don’t necessarily have to choose between them.

First you need to look at your unique needs and figure out what your goals are.

If you’re a local business trying to reach people in a specific area around your shop/office, local SEO paired with a local branding and remarketing ad campaign can work really well capturing attention and interest from your audience, and shouldn’t break the bank.

If you’re an online store facing big-name, well-established competitors like Amazon or Ebay, your chances of getting leads through organic searches are very low. In this case, you might be best looking at PPC solutions, especially since it offers the possibility of creating visual ads for shopping and remarketing.

Here are a few ways SEO and PPC can work together:

  • All the data you collect through PPC can then feed your SEO efforts;
  • You can use remarketing to re-engage people who found you through organic search;
  • Boost brand awareness by having a solid organic and paid visibility;
  • PPC can be used to test keywords and messaging before you implement it in SEO

Still not sure what you need? Well a good digital strategy is likely the best place to start. A good digital strategy will outline exactly what you’re trying to achieve and why, who you’re trying to reach, and the most effective way to engage these people.

If you’re not sure how to go about creating your own digital roadmap, contact Team Visible, your friendly digital marketing agency here in Perth – we’d be happy to offer you some guidance!