We’re often asked by business owners whether Search Engine Optimization or Pay-Per-Click advertising is better for them.never easy to answer. The answer to that question is rarely simple and never easy to answer. Generally speaking, we can break down the decision to two factors:
- If you have money and want results fast, go with PPC.
- If you have time and would like to spend less money, go with SEO.
Of course that’s a gross over-simplification of the issue. It also depends on your overall strategy and goals, the needs (and wants) of your customers, and how they use the internet. It may be paid search, organic search, or a combination of both that suits your business the best.
Google makes all of their billions of dollars through paid ads. With millions of sites in existence and all of them vying for the top spot on Google, it stands to reason that you would appear above the search results if you’re paying Google to be there. That’s when Google ads become valuable. Plus, if you’re running ads on Google you also have much more control on how you look to searchers. By customizing your Google ad you can give your customers valuable information at the outset by providing an opportunity for them to call you, see your locations, and all of your multiple sitelinks that will get them into your website and in the heart of your content.
Google ads also provide you the opportunity to make your targeting laser-focused. There is an incredible amount of customization: you can choose what keywords you want to appear for, what time of day, day of the week, geography, language, specific devices and how much budget is allotted for each day. By contrast, organic traffic is much more haphazard.
While SEO takes time, a PPC campaign can be created almost immediately. If you want, you can get in front of your customers the same day you set up the ads. Once you’ve begun a campaign, you can immediately adjust your strategy and ads when you need to. And since Google loves it when you pay them, they give you much more granular marketing data (that you can even use to help your SEO).
Unfortunately, as with all things in life, there are cons. PPC can be very expensive, especially depending on your industry. Lawyers sometimes have to pay hundreds per click! And you can never stop paying for clicks. Once you stop paying, you stop receiving traffic. Plus, it is fiercely competitive. Competitors can steal your ads and start competing with you anytime they want, which can drive up prices really quickly.
Paid ads are a quick solution to your traffic needs, but if you have strong SEO, you will be ranking right up there next to the paid ads. Through well managed SEO the trust and authority in the eyes of your customers will be much stronger — especially if you are not paying to be in the search results (directly to Google at least). Many people skip ads and trust organic results much more; count us as those people as well.
SEO does incredible things for your traffic. Website traffic will almost always be higher than paid search, all other variables being equal. Though SEO you get the benefit of more users clicking through and catching new queries that people come up with everyday. Interestingly enough, 15% of all Google searches have never been seen before. That’s just shocking. Shocking!
The ROI of organic traffic is great, because the cost per click is free! Just kidding of course, getting to the top of the search engines will not be easy or cheap, but there is no charge for every click.
You don’t have to constantly pay for SEO like you do PPC. Once you’ve established good SEO, your competitors cannot just pay more money to beat you. You have an advantage that cannot be taken away easily.
Naturally, good SEO is hands down better than PPC, but it has its drawbacks. SEO takes much more time and effort up front to be really really good. Not only do you have to do a lot of research, you also have to create really good content to rank in Google nowadays. And the other major piece of SEO, link building, the white hat and proper way, is difficult to master. Intent is another factor, as most organic traffic is an informational search as opposed to a commercial one. That means you may have to nurture those leads a lot longer through your funnel to make the sale.
Which one should your businesses use?
It’s still difficult to say. Truly, it depends on the individual situation.
If you’re a local business that has a tight budget (we feel you), doing some SEO work (and we’d love to assist you) might be your best bet.
If you are a pretty well-established company that has a budget and needs leads now, you should look at paid search (we’re pretty good at that too).
If you know exactly what your business goals are and how your funnel works – combining SEO and PPC is going to be the best plan of attack. They’ll work together and drive your business forward better than either on its own.
If there’s any way we can help you, or if you have any questions we can help with, feel free to hit us up!