For businesses, SEO and PPC are a vital form of search engine marketing to generate traffic to their website and generate some form of conversion. Conversions can take the form of making a purchase, registration for email newsletters, or any other conversion point within a website. There are fundamental differences between both SEO and PPC and understanding those differences is essential in the building of any internet marketing campaign.
The definition of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is centred around increasing both quality and quantity web traffic whilst developing brand exposure through organic search engine results. Organic search engine results are non-paid and the key to obtaining leads through search engine results is obtaining a high search engine ranking.
Obtaining a high search engine ranking is easier said than done as it centres around having a deep understanding of what your target audience is looking for when using search engines, specifically the keywords they are using and what content they prefer to consume on the back of searches. This is even more vital with figures published in late 2018 indicating that Google alone generates 70,000 search queries every single second, that's four million per minute!
“SEO is no longer just a job title, it has become part of everyone’s job description” - Rand Fishkin, Founder of SparkToro and Co-founder of MOZ.
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) is, in many ways, the polar opposite of SEO in the sense that by incorporating PPC into their internet marketing strategy companies are essentially buying visits to their site rather than earning them organically. It is an ecosystem whereby advertisers pay a fee for each occasion where one of their ads is clicked, this fee can be of little-to-no consequence as the conversions brought about by the link click often dwarf the cost per acquisition.
Search engine advertising is amongst the most popular forms of PPC. It allows for businesses to fight over ad placement within google’s search landing page amidst sponsored links. Google also offers the world's most widely adopted PPC advertising system, Google Ads. When users bid for placement within google ads, Google selects winners from a pool of bidders whenever a relevant search is initiated with the winners then appearing in the sponsored links within the search query’s landing page. Winners are selected based on several factors including the quality and relevance of their advertisements as well as their Ad rank.
“The analytics game in PPC is very different from SEO and social media, where you’re trying to cast a really wide net. The goal of PPC is actually to be very picky” - Larry Kim, Founder of wordstream, CEO of Mobile Monkey.
When choosing between the adoption of SEO or PPC as part of an internet marketing campaign there are some core differences that businesses need to understand when choosing between a focus on organic search results and paid search results. Below, we’ve detailed some of the key differences that businesses should be aware of.
Taking a glance at the sheer difference in Click Through Rate between PPC driven links and SEO driven links you’d be forgiven for feeling a bit like this:
However, PPC is still widely adopted within internet marketing campaigns with several pros associated with it concerning an SEO based internet marketing campaign. Below we discuss some of the biggest pros of adopting PPC advertising within your internet marketing strategy.
Specific Targeting - PPC offers sophisticated targeting of users with it being possible to target specific keywords, the time of day, the day of the week, geographical location, language, what device was used as well as audiences based on previous visits. By comparison, SEO tends to use more of a scattergun approach to building traffic.
Intelligence - Through PPC and dedicated software such as Google Analytics you can track which keywords convert as well as the percentage of conversions from CTR on that keyword and associated cost. This information can then be fed back into and influence the rest of your marketing activities. By comparison, keywords used from organic search results are somewhat hidden in the name of privacy. Furthermore, with PPC advertisements, it’s easy to split-test ads, call to action buttons and landing pages to see where your best results lie, as with monitoring conversions, this information can be fed back into and in turn influence the rest of your marketing activities.
Speed - Perfecting an SEO campaign and achieving good visibility takes time. By comparison, PPC campaigns can be implemented within days with results tending to be instantaneous. This is particularly relevant to smaller firms, for example, a small independent supermarket is unlikely to gain much website traffic through the implementation of SEO when competing in a saturated market filled with established nationwide chains.
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However, just as there are several pros associated with PPC advertising, there are pros associated with SEO, namely:
- Credibility and Trust - From data in consumer search behaviour, we can see that amongst all google search queries only 2.6% click on an AdWords ad. Having your site appear within organic search results improves perceived credibility amongst consumers whilst inadvertently becoming a brand that is trusted by consumers searching around a given topic. The point of credibility and trust associated with organic search results is highlighted by the widely reported Click-Through-Rates between paid ads and organic results, whereby organic pages experience up to 20x more traffic opportunity.
Sustainability - Whilst there will always be a period of improving your search engine ranking until you find yourself in the desired position, once you achieve the position, SEO is a highly sustainable form of internet marketing. In the event of a business having a small marketing budget, or even having their marketing spend cut, an SEO based campaign can sustain a business with quality content. By comparison, when adopting a PPC based strategy, the moment you stop paying for ads is the moment your web traffic dries up. Furthermore, when SEO is done well, with optimised keywords, compelling content and excellent user experience; it can present a higher return on investment than PPC would. More so when page views begin to snowball over time.
Discover more about Search Engine optimisation by checking out the great social media profiles we’ve compiled here!
The truth is, what you and your business should do is unique to you and the situation of your business. Some factors to consider are the locality of your business as well as your competitors, this will invariably affect the website traffic you generate. Other major considerations include your current website authority (which you can find out here), the degree of competition fighting for a high search engine ranking and the cost per click to appear in paid search results. To be successful in choosing the right method for your internet marketing strategies, you need to have a clear idea of your goals, whether they be short-term or long-term.
For many, the best approach adopts SEO and PPC with the pros of each creating a synergy between one another. By adopting a mixed campaign, PPC keyword conversion data can be fed into SEO, which gives you the freedom to move high-cost or low-converting keywords into your SEO campaign or trial the success of new keyword strategies through PPC before committing them to long-term SEO strategies. Finally, a holistic search engine strategy can give business increased confidence in their abilities to generate traffic through strong paid and organic search visibility.