PPC vs SEO – Which is Better?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the ongoing process of optimising web pages and content to ensure they closely match what users are searching for, and will therefore be ranked in higher in search engines such as Google.

Online marketing is crucial for any business – especially search engine presence. The two main tools that help businesses get ahead of their online competitors are Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation. So often, companies will ask, ‘which is better?’

But it’s the companies that ask, ‘which is better for my business‘ who can really make the most of the online marketing available to them.

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can have an instant effect and can be used to quickly overtake competitors at a particular time, in a specific area.

On the other hand, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a robust long-term process of optimisation and improvement that can give websites long-lasting, higher ranking positions over the course of several months or years.

PPC (Pay Per Click) is paid-for advertising on search engines such as Google and on other websites. You only pay when a user clicks your ad.

There are a few questions to ask when working out which tool is best for your business:

  • How quickly do you need to generate traffic?
  • How long do I want traffic to continue to my site after my initial marketing effort is over?
  • Do I operate in a more local or more national or global marketplace?
  • What is the potential profit per sale from online marketing?

How quickly do you need traffic?

One of the fantastic benefits of PPC is being able to switch it on with quite literally, ‘the click of a button’. For instance a Google AdWords campaign can be set up in a day. This allows you to switch on a flow of traffic to your site immediately – provided you are prepared to pay for it!

SEO and PPC analysis pageIf your site has no SEO, and therefore is hard to find in search, and you need to start making sales from online leads as soon as possible, PPC could be the answer.

PPC is really very simple. You decide how much a click is worth to you and place a bid for that amount for a particular search term on the PPC platform.

Then, if a Google user clicks on an advert to your website, you pay Google anything up to that amount (depending on how much your competitors are bidding).

The cost of a click can vary hugely from as little as £0.20 per click to £10.00, depending on the competitiveness of what you are bidding on.

Depending on the profit on sales that follow these paid-for clicks, this may or may not be profitable. It’s always worth asking a specialist for their advice before going ahead to make sure you spend your budget as effectively as possible in PPC advertising.

Who does PPC work well for?

High-ticket businesses

There are many markets that really benefit from PPC. For example, if a lawyer charges £100 per hour for their services and only £2.00 for the advert that generated a click and then a sale, one sale could easily outweigh the cost of many clicks. So if your business makes larger profits on a small number of sales, PPC could be ideal.

Generic, non-specialist or wide-market businesses

PPC is also ideal for:

  • e-commerce websites selling (especially those selling non-specialist goods or higher-priced items)
  • generic service companies competing in a wide or national marketplace, such as lawyers
  • businesses that target customers in a different geographic location to the service itself e.g. hotels, where it might be hard to be found in search

Who is SEO best for?

If you’re selling a low cost product and the price of your PPC campaign is quite high, this may not be a viable option. In this case you may be better off using SEO …

seo version of google homepage

Local businesses

SEO is an ideal long-term online marketing strategy for all websites, particularly those serving local or niche audiences. A great way of appearing as one of the top (if not, the top) search results for a local business is to use SEO. This is much more achievable due to the reduced competition.

Niche or specialist businesses

SEO is often a better tool for more niche businesses. There will be less competition, making it easier for your website to be top on search results with SEO.

Niche subjects naturally attract less traffic (not necessarily less profit of course!). As there needs to be a certain volume of traffic to trigger PPC ads, there may not be enough traffic at any given time for ads to appear on PPC. So again in this situation, SEO could be more effective.

Now, which is best?

Bear in mind that online marketing isn’t always an ‘either-or’ situation. Many businesses divide their marketing budget to accommodate months of SEO work for their website whilst running an effective PPC campaign.

This delivers immediate traffic from the PPC campaign with SEO providing a long-term presence higher up in search engines, which could eventually replace the need for PPC.

If you’re going to opt for a bit of both, the question remains what percentage to put into each strategy. The table below can help to determine where your business lies and therefore what percentage of your budget to put into each.

PPC SEO
Do I need my traffic quickly? Could start immediately Can take weeks or months
Do I need my traffic to last a long time after my initial campaign is over? Traffic will cease immediately you stop paying Traffic can last weeks or months after you stop optimising
Am I a local business? May not be enough traffic Easier due to low competition
Am I a global or national business? Could work well Harder due to high competition
Do I make large profits on a small number of sales? Could work well Harder due to high competition

If you would like some advice on your business from an online marketing specialist, contact us for a free consultation.

See also:

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