Last Updated on May 21, 2017 by Micha McLain
As a media and marketing company, we get asked this a lot:
SEO vs PPC Which is Better?
Before we get started answering this question, lets break down your online visibility strategy into two main categories: Search and Referral
Referral traffic is traffic from links on other sites like Facebook, blogs, and press releases. While it’s important to do both in any internet marketing campaign, we’re going to be talking about search traffic here.
Search traffic is most commonly from search engines but can include search functions on sites like Youtube. Search engine traffic is broken down into two categories: SEO and PPC
Here are the definitions of SEO and PPC…
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine’s organic (natural) rankings. In other words, it’s ranking in search engines without ads.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
Pay per click is the showing of ads on paid networks like Google, Bing, Youtube, Facebook, blogs, etc. that charge per click. In other words, you show an add that leads to a webpage and you get charged every time someone clicks the ad.
SEO vs. PPC: Which is Right for You?
The answer to this question replies on a combination of factors. Let’s start comparing.
Do you need immediate traffic or long term results?
PPC = Light Switch Marketing
Think of PPC as a light switch. You turn it on… you turn it off. We call it “light switch marketing” for this reason.
Because of this, if you need immediate traffic, then PPC is definitely your choice. You can have an ad running in Google Adwords in just a few minutes. You sign-up, create an ad, set a budget, and submit. Moments later, your add is running. However, as soon as your PPC budget runs out, your ad stops, just like a light switch.
SEO = Freight Train Marketing
SEO on the other hand, is more like a freight train (freight train marketing). It take a lot of moving part to get it going correctly, but once it’s moving, the amount of effort required to keep it there is normally much lower. The reason it take more to get going is the amount of things that have to be done, both on-page (on your website) and off-page (things linking to your website).
Bottom line though is that SEO relies on the quality of your website content, code, linking structure, meta, and much more. If it’s not up to par, your organic rankings will always suffer. Once this is optimized though, you should see long term results.
What’s your overall budget and ROI
In order to answer “which is better, SEO or PPC“, you’ll need to consider your overall budget. Once your know that, then you’ll need to prioritize short term or long term ROI.
PPC typically has lower short term cost because you don’t as much set-up and research required. This means you can get up and running traffic to your landing pages right away. The downside is the long term ROI isn’t that good because you have to continue to pay the PPC rates. Yes, you can get advanced and do some manual bidding, finding less competitive keywords, and improve your overall media buy rates, but it’s still not as good as SEO.
SEO, on the other hand, has a much higher short term cost, but an incredible long term ROI and value. You also need to consider that because organic results can take longer to take effect, it’ll likely take you a while to recoup your money in the short term.
Quantity and Quality of Traffic
Search Engine Optimization is the clear winner here.
Approximately 90% of all click on a search go to a 1st page organic result
Say again… yes that means 90% of visitors click on organic results, NOT paid ads.
This is because 86-percent of web searchers trust organic SEO listings more than sponsored/paid PPC listings.
When comparing SEO vs PPC, we also need to consider the conversion of traffic as well.
50-percent of people arriving at a retailer’s site from paid ads are more likely to buy than those who came from an organic link.
However, this is just an e-commerce stat. Considering SEO typically has higher trust, it’s likely that this ins’t true for all things.
One of the things we use PPC for is testing traffic to a landing page. We can use this data to get an idea of our website conversation rate. Using just a small amount of money, we’re able to refine a page to convert well before putting large scale SEO efforts in place.
SEO vs PPC Which is Better Final Thoughts
Use SEO if you want:
- lots of traffic
- higher trust
- greatest ROI
- don’t mind being patient for results
Use PPC is you want:
- less traffic but more likely to buy
- instant traffic
- need to test conversions before SEO
- don’t mind higher cost
In our opinion, SEO is better overall. As a matter of fact, we spend less than a couple hundred dollars a year internally, and only to test traffic to a certain page. We also like how SEO requires you to think more about your business, your visitors, and how to convert them into customers. This process alone will provide immense value to your business.
At the end of the day, SEO vs PPC which is better is really about which one fits best with your business.
Or, if you have a really competitive market and want to dominate it, then simply use both. Or, if you need help with your internet marketing, contact us to see how we can help you.