The online world gives you the ability to generate traffic to your website in different ways. More often than not, you need to spend some money to make the most of your efforts. In addition, you also need to determine which mediums and tools work best for your business. At times, businesses benefit most by turning to more than one strategy. As you’ll go on to see, this is also the case with the SEO vs. PPC comparison.
Given the ever-evolving online marketplace, there is no single best digital strategy to generate more leads. Often, businesses are found devoting adequate resources toward search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
How SEO and PPC Work
SEO refers to a process that involves optimizing on-page and off-page elements with the aim of ranking higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This is because websites that appear on the first pages of online search results account for a significant chunk of traffic generated when users conduct online searches using relevant keywords.
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PPC involves turning to the paid advertisements you get to see above and below organic search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Google Ads, for instance, is Google’s PPC advertising solution. With these ads, you pay per click, which essentially means you pay only when a user clicks on your ad, and not each time it’s displayed.
Organic SEO Vs. PPC for Lead Generation
SEO involves refining web pages until they rank highly in SERPs. Good digital marketing agencies rely on different approaches so users get to view your website among the top results when they carry out online searches using relevant queries or questions. One of the reasons that SEO remains a great tool for lead generation is that people turn to search engines such as Google and Bing to consume information and make purchase decisions.
One simple way to boost SEO lead generation is to provide content that your target audience finds relevant and beneficial. Long-form blog posts that extend to 2,000 words or more may work well when it comes to attracting leads. Embedding an offer in your blog posts, providing a free industry-specific tutorial/guide, or using exit pop-ups with offers may do the trick when it comes to building your email list.
Moving to PPC, a distinct benefit is that you get to tailor-make your online ad campaign based you’re your specific target audience, no matter how large or small it might be. Besides, by using available tracking methods and making use of good customer relationship management (CRM) software, marketers get the ability to generate much-required connections between ad campaigns and eventual purchases.
Creating unique landing pages for each ad is a well-established best practice shared by all top digital marketing companies. What’s important is that you create persuasive ads by making compelling offers and targeting keywords that accompany intent to purchase. Testing and analyzing follows to maximize a campaign’s lead generation potential.
The Potential to Drive Traffic
If you look at the organic ads vs. paid ads comparison from the point of view of driving traffic to your website, the winner depends on how well your website currently ranks in online searches. For example, if your website ranks highly across desired keywords, you may expect more organic leads than the leads your PPC campaign generates. So, if your website features in the top five results for a given keyword, you don’t need to include it in your PPC campaign because you already have a steady flow of organic traffic.
According to data released by BrightEdge surrounding the share of web traffic by channels, organic search accounted for 53% of all website traffic in 2019, up from 51% in 2014. PPC visits, on the other hand, accounted for 15% of all website traffic. This goes to show that SEO brings with it more potential to drive traffic when compared to PPC, especially when websites attain first page positions in online searches.
The Cost Factor
PPC gives you an effective way to get short-term results, and you may expect to receive qualified leads from the first day. However, this comes at a cost. SEO, on the other hand, can bring traffic to your website for a fraction of the cost, or even for free if you carry it out on your own. Besides, even if you use the services of an advertising agency that specializes in SEO, it may still be more cost-effective than other mediums.
Understanding how much Google Ads cost gives you an indication of how the PPC pricing system works with other platforms such as Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, and Instagram, because they all rely on the PPC model.
While PPC can be expensive, that’s not necessarily the case, especially if you run a local business that targets a small geographical area and focuses on no more than a few keywords. However, the costs can be rather high if you plan to target larger areas or run international campaigns. In addition, PPC requires a steady inflow of cash.
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Another cost-related drawback with PPC is the possibility of getting into bidding wars with your competitors. This requires regular monitoring of bids, positions, click-through rates, and quality scores.
Ease of Use
If you do not have the required know-how, it is best that you let experts handle both aspects. SEO requires formulating and implementing different long-term strategies, and it can take months or even years for a website to make it to the first page of online search result pages. With PPC, understanding how to create and run ad campaigns is crucial for positive outcomes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of SEO Compared to PPC
When your website ranks highly for different keywords, it results in more people being able to find your website when they carry out online searches. With the passing of time, your target audience becomes more aware of your brand and what it has to offer. However, SEO requires looking at generating leads over the long term.
Benefits of SEO include:
- Promotes online visibility
- High potential to boost web traffic
- Helps build credibility and trust
- Results in low-cost traffic
- Comes with a high return on investment (ROI)
- More sustainable than PPC
- Improves click-through-rates (CTRs)
Probable disadvantages of SEO include:
- Takes longer to achieve desired results
- SEO remains an ongoing process
- Requires good quality content that users find beneficial
- Can be time-consuming if you plan to go at it on your own
- Analytics can be vague
- Not the best for time-sensitive content
Pros and Cons of PPC
It’s not without reason that some of the biggest names across industries as well as local businesses turn to PPC to get traffic to their websites. However, much like SEO, PPC also comes with its share of possible advantages and disadvantages.
The pros of PPC include:
- Provides near-immediate results
- Ads are placed on top of organic search results
- Allows more granular targeting of customers than SEO
- No requirements for visual ads
- Increased brand visibility
- Ability to tweak budgets
- Easy to set up
- Ability to test ideas/concepts quickly
- Access to metrics such as keyword popularity and conversion rates
- Ads stay in place until you keep your PPC campaign running
The possible downsides of PPC include:
- Can be cost-prohibitive for small businesses
- Requires ongoing investment
- Bidding wars may spiral out of control
- Easy to replicate by other marketers
What is Better: SEO or PPC?
Whether you might benefit more from SEO lead generation or PPC leads depends on multiple factors. You may consider relying on SEO if:
- You need consistent results. SEO works best when you look at the long-term picture. You cannot expect to rank high for a competitive keyword in a day or a week because making it to the top of search results takes time as well as effort. What helps is that once you start ranking high for your chosen keyword/s, you may expect a steady flow of organic traffic. However, you need to ensure staying on top of your SEO campaign to ensure its longevity.
- You wish to create an authority website. If you want to create an authority website that serves as a resource center for any given niche, you need to consider working with a professional SEO company. This is because people should be able to find your website through the results of their online searches. Implementing different SEO strategies to create high-quality SEO-based content that your visitors find beneficial helps sustain the traffic your website receives over a period of time.
- You want to improve the value of your website. When it comes to improving the value of your website, SEO serves best. This is because it focuses on different aspects such as volume of traffic, keyword ranking, page ranking, quality of backlinks, and domain authority.
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Using PPC might work well for your website if:
- You want quick results. The results that PPC advertising delivers can be rather quick. For instance, you may expect PPC leads within a few minutes of getting your campaign underway. This is because ads are displayed on search result pages almost as soon as they’re approved. PPC ads may work well when it comes to launching new products/services, running seasonal campaigns, and promoting affiliate products with high conversion rates.
- You want highly qualified leads. The SEO vs. PPC comparison tilts in favor of the latter when it comes to the quality of traffic. This is because PPC gives you the ability to display your ads to as wide or narrow a target audience as you like based on various parameters such as age, income groups, gender, hobbies, and location. As a result, PPC leads generally tend to bring with them higher conversion rates than what you may expect through SEO lead generation.
- You wish to run a time-sensitive campaign. If you plan to run a promotional offer for a limited time period, PPC scores over SEO. This is because the latter tends to take time to deliver results. PPC, on the other hand, can start producing favorable results from the first day.
- Your website is not optimized yet. If your website is not optimized for search engines yet, you may think about using PPC until your SEO efforts start bearing fruit. This way, you don’t have to wait for the benefits of SEO to kick in to start boosting your brand’s online presence. Once your website starts getting the desired organic traffic, you may reconsider your PPC strategy.
Integrating PPC With SEO
Organic and paid search work together and deliver desired results provided a good integration strategy is formulated in advance. This is because marketers can leverage both methods to meet short-term and long-term goals. Advantages of using organic and paid search together include:
- Get short-term and long-term benefits through PPC leads and SEO lead generation
- Using refined keyword data from PPC campaigns to improve SEO campaigns
- Landing page optimization and A/B testing from PPC can help improve performance in organic searches
- Use PPC ads to retarget traffic from organic searches for maximizing conversion
- Test keywords through PPC platforms and use high ranking ones in your SEO efforts
- Use PPC and SEO to target prospective customers from different stages of the sales funnel
There is no clear winner in the organic SEO vs. PPC comparison because both come with their unique advantages and possible shortcomings. For instance, while SEO works well if you’re looking at long-term gains, PPC gives you the ability to boost your online presence quickly. Besides, PPC traffic sources, be it Google, Facebook, or Twitter, are ideal if you wish to target highly specific audiences.
In many cases, organic and paid search work together to boost a brand’s online presence. This can be done by using PPC for time-bound promotions and SEO for increasing organic traffic. If you’re unsure about how to approach the process, seeking advice from a reputable internet marketing agency might be in your best interest.