One question that marketing gurus find business owners asking them most about increasing web presence is whether search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click ads would benefit a business most. In truth, there is no hard answer to this question.
Optimally, a business would probably want to utilize both SEO and PPC, but it depends on their niche and what stage their business is in. Newer businesses often don’t have the revenue necessary to use the synergy between the two strategies. They have to build up one or the other first. But which one to choose first?
First, a bit on the difference between SEO and PPC. Think back to the last time you searched Google or Bing for something.
PPC ads appear at the top of the list of regular website listings. These ads are paid for by the company to appear at the top of the search page.
Conversely, SEO places your site’s pages better in the regular search results. This is also called organic search.
Unless you have your own marketing department to handle such things, you might benefit from the SEO services company or a PPC management agency. However, there are certain advantages to each that we can go over briefly.
Advantages of SEO
Many shoppers are now searching Google and Bing for products before they go to a brick and mortar store, if they do not just buy online. A good SEO strategy puts your product in front of your customers and raises brand awareness.
Credibility and Trust
High organic search engine listings build credibility and trust for a variety of reasons. Sites don’t get up that high without generating a strong response from other people. We tend to trust the top organic listings more than the paid ads above them.
This ties in with both awareness and the credibility factor. The top spots get the most clicks, period. General wisdom is that the top three positions earn roughly half of the clicks. Thus, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic if you don’t rank high enough.
While a good SEO strategy is neither cheap nor easy, nor does it provide immediate results, the great thing about SEO is that it is long-term. It does not dry up when you stop paying.
Advantages of PPC
Position on Page
Simply put, PPC gets your company and your product all the way to the top of the list above the organic results. This is a huge competitive advantage even if many people skip past the ads. A well-written PPC ad will catch the attention of someone ready to buy at the best moment.
Even if people don’t click your ads, PPC does let you get your brand out there at the top of searches where people have to look at it. Depending on the ad network, your ads can appear in other locations as well, like YouTube. This gives broad visibility.
PPC provides you with the ability to aim at your target audience with a laser focus. This is probably the biggest advantage of PPC over SEO. With SEO, you’re at the mercy of the algorithm, but PPC can be targeted to any keywords you want.
Another big benefit to a PPC marketing approach is that it often provides quicker visible results than SEO. More people click on those ads than you might think, and if your aim is conversions then PPC is the best route to prime that pump.
Combining SEO and PPC for Your Business
An approach that includes both SEO and PPC is probably going to get the best results. One reason for this is that the Adwords you use in your PPC approach can help you filter the SEO keywords that would work best for you. As we have discussed, many people will scroll on past ads and look for the organic results first. Search results from PPC will benefit from organic SEO listings and vice-versa.
However, this hybrid approach isn’t always feasible for new businesses. Focusing on one or the other might be necessary until enough revenue comes in. After reading this, you should be able to decide which approach is best for your situation.
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Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google.