SEO and PPC: Knowing When to Use Either, or Both
It’s amazing what online marketing and advertising has brought to brands and businesses in getting the word out about their products or services. A strong and easy-to-maneuver website complemented by one or more social media pages can bring visibility to a brand or business like never before. But with all these advantages come disadvantages – which include many questions. One question worthy of review is: “Should you use SEO or PPC (or both) to attract traffic to your business?”
Basic definitions of SEO and PPC.
First, a general elementary review of the two terms:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) maximizes how many people visit a website based on how high the site appears in a search.
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click – or Paid Search) is when a business places an ad in the hopes someone searching will see it and click on it. The website hosting the ad is paid by the business whenever the ad is clicked on.
Which to use: SEO or PPC?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer as to whether SEO or PPC will help your business attract more online notice. As Marcus Miller explained in Search Engine Land, various factors such as your particular business objectives, audience, and overall situation come into play when deciding on which option you should use. If you’ve been in business for a while and are established, SEO can then deliver great volume (and do it cost-effectively). On the other hand, if your business is new, PPC may be the better choice (despite your having to pay for any clicks) as it can present quicker access to search marketing.
The advantages of SEO.
Businesses that opt for SEO – successfully – will benefit from greater brand awareness, return on investment (ROI), cost-per-click (CPC), and improved click-through-rate (CTR), among other advantages. Additionally, a business with a well-established online presence and high-rankings in search is likely to be considered a credible site for potential customers who tend to bypass paid ads in favor of organic search. And, perhaps most appealing about SEO (and why so many businesses utilize this method) is that it is free of charge.
The disadvantages of SEO.
Keep in mind, however, that nothing is guaranteed. This is particularly true of SEO in that success can be hit-or-miss. Your business’ URL will be subject to slow moving organic traffic, and likely get lost in the midst of countless other sites appearing above and below your listing. Mr. Miller notes this is especially challenging when select keywords you choose are also used by the likes of Amazon and eBay, among other well-known brands. A lot of trial-and-error come with SEO, and while you don’t have to invest money, you will have to invest plenty of time before your business shows up high in search rankings.
One final note about SEO: Be sure to maintain “White Hat” and avoid “Black Hat” practices.
The advantages of PPC.
As mentioned earlier, PPC can be the better choice for businesses just starting out. A paid ad will appear above the SEO text listings, literally making a first impression to users. If that first impression is positive, a potential customer will click on a business’ paid search ad, thus increasing the chance of converting to a genuine customer. In addition to sharper targeting and visibility, other benefits to PPC include the ability to conduct A/B testing for seeing what ads work (and which don’t), and overall greater flexibility.
The disadvantages of PPC.
If you are considering PPC as your search method, keep in mind that expense is the first and most obvious disadvantage, particularly if you are targeting a wide range of audiences and locales. A PPC campaign must be paid for on an ongoing basis, and once you stop paying – your ads stop showing up in search. And, a PPC ad is easy for unscrupulous copycat competitors to take advantage of. All the work you put into creating an ad can be easily swiped, making this another risk to be mindful of.
The advantages of SEO and PPC combined – with no disadvantages.
For businesses that can afford the cost and are able to put in the time, integrating SEO and PPC can result in a winning scenario. That’s because each can complement the other. For example, certain types of data – such as keywords or A/B testing results from PPC – can filter into organic search of SEO. Essentially, PPC can inform and strengthen SEO – and vice versa.
Can your brand or business use some help with online visibility through SEO, PPC, or any other digital marketing service? EGC can be of service. Call us today to find out more.