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PPC or SEO – Which is Better?

A discussion we have fairly frequently with small businesses is SEO or PPC, which is better?

As a small business owner, it makes sense that you want to know the best bang for your buck.

Though, it’s not as easy as saying one is better than the other. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages and their opportunities and challenges.

While we feel you should implement both marketing methods to diversify, here’s some insight if you choose only one.

What is SEO?

Organic SEO Results Shown Below PPC
Organic search results (product of SEO) are displayed below the PPC ads.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, improves the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines. Many companies hire search engine optimization consultants to help them rank higher in searches. Sometimes larger companies will have entire divisions of staff dedicated to the art of SEO.

Why so much emphasis on SEO? A high-ranking website typically leads to more visitors, better conversion rates, and increased revenue.

It’s no wonder why SEO has become the heartbeat of many businesses’ marketing teams.

SEO is a Long Game – Don’t Expect Results Overnight

If you’re the type that needs instant gratification, then you’re not going to like SEO. It’s a slow process, but the results last a long time. That’s not to say it’s not imperative for your business.

SEO is inherently a slow process since we have no control over the search engines and how fast they crawl, index, and rank sites. It can take several months for content to start ranking and even longer to rank higher up.

Patience is key with SEO, but it’s not entirely without its benefits.

Just as you wait for your results, keep in mind that the results are lasting.

This doesn’t mean that once you rank, you’ll stay there forever. There are algorithm changes and other competitors that will knock you off the top rankings. So it would be best if you stayed on top of it, but relatively speaking, you can stay #1 for a keyword for a long time.

Can Be Less Expensive

I caution this with the term “can” because you can push your SEO hard, which will cost you. In general, however, you get out of it what you put into it.

All of the content, optimizing, and link building takes time, and that takes money. So, yes, it can be expensive, but for the results over long-term, it’s not too bad.

What you do today for SEO will benefit you for months on end.

Keep in mind that if you put minimal effort into SEO, it will probably take longer to rank. If you go all-in with a content strategy mixed with a link-building approach, you’ll be well on your way to cruising to the top of the SERPs.

What is PPC?

PPC is Located at Top of Google
PPC ads are displayed at the top of the SERPs.

PPC stands for “pay per click,” meaning that every time someone clicks on an advertisement, the advertiser pays a fee to the search engine owner. This fee can be anything from $0.10 to thousands of dollars per day (or even more).

You’ve seen the ads at the top of a Google search. Those are PPC.

Scrolling through Facebook and see an ad? Those are PPC.

Every time you click on those, someone is paying for them. That’s generally how many online publishers make their money.

Instant Results

Unlike SEO, PPC provides instantaneous results. When you pay-per-click, your ads are prominently displayed to the ad network’s vast audience.

You’re going to get clicks. No doubt. Your ads will be front and center for everyone to find easily. Chances are, they’re going to click on them because they’re relevant and easy to find.

You’ll also pay for each of those clicks.

Nonetheless, you’re going to get traffic to your website in a relatively short period.

PPC is not a long-term approach. As soon as you stop the advertising campaign, the traffic will stop flowing in.

However, this is great when you have a specific goal.

For example, you could start with PPC to get a few sales under your belt to increase revenue. You could then reinvest those profits into SEO, which would focus on your company’s long-term growth and stability.

Extremely Effective at Generating Qualified Leads

PPC ad networks have a large audience in which they know everything about the audience. They know the demographics, interests, and much more of their users.

Ever wonder why Google and Facebook show you creepily relevant ads? Just talking about jewelry, and now they’re showing you ads for jewelry?

It is highly targeted. While this targeting might freak you out as a user, this is great for businesses.

Because they know all of this information, you as a business can target your ads on them.

This means you can generate highly qualified leads that are most likely to purchase your service or product.

Unlike a billboard next to a highway that displays to thousands of people regardless of their background, PPC hyper-targets people from specified areas, certain ages, and interests that match your products.

Comparing SEO and PPC

When comparing SEO and PPC, we used three categories that would impact small businesses the most. That is time, cost, and effectiveness.

Time to Achieve Results

When considering time, you have to ask how long does it take to generate results?

PPC generates results much, much faster than SEO. There’s no doubting that.

If you want instant – or relatively instant – results, then PPC takes this category.

On the other hand, SEO can take months to realize the results and start seeing traffic pouring in.

We’re talking hours for PPC results, whereas we’re talking months with SEO.

However, don’t neglect the fact that SEO has longer-lasting results.

Cost to Implement

The costs associated with the campaign depend on the niche, but in general, SEO is a cheaper option in the long run.

A single click on your ad in your industry might cost you $5 to $20. That’s a reasonably qualified lead, but it’s still $5 to $20 for a single click.

SEO, on the other hand, might cost you $1,000/mo, but after a few months, you’re generating dozens or hundreds of clicks. These clicks are on autopilot at this point. You’re not managing ads, paying for each click; they’re just coming in straight from the search engines.

Doing the quick math, each click to your site might calculate to $5 per click.

Again, this is really industry-driven with many factors, but SEO tends to be a less expensive option for what you get over time.

Effectiveness of the Campaign

The effectiveness of SEO and PPC is purely a toss-up. Both of these are effective for their purpose.

PPC is effective now. So it would be more effective for a flash sale or a seasonal service you offer.

Sure, everyone loves to get their results right now or relatively quickly, but don’t neglect the sustained growth of your business for some quick wins.

SEO, as discussed, is a bit slower. Long-term growth is like a slow burn. This would be more effective as a growth and brand awareness strategy.

Rarely will SEO ever yield immediate results, so it’s not practical for sales or time-sensitive objectives.

It’s Important to Explore Both SEO and PPC

Both SEO and PPC are great for small businesses. The more you put into either of them, the more you’re going to get out of them.

Think of your small business’s digital marketing plan like investing. You want to diversify your portfolio, which in this case would be both SEO and PPC.

There are also other avenues we didn’t dig into much in this: social media marketing (SMM) and email marketing. Both are great methods for marketing your business, but we’ll save those for another day.

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