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PPC or SEO: Which One Should Your Business Use?

There are tons of different ways to market a business today, from television and radio ads to social media marketing. Two of the top ways to market online, however, are through pay-per-click (PPC) ads or search engine optimization (SEO). Both of these can be highly effective ways to get more visitors to a website and encourage more consumers to make a website purchase. Deciding which one to use isn’t always easy, though. Both have advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered. Learn more about both options now to decide which one might be the best option for a business. 

The Difference Between SEO and PPC

SEO and PPC are two very different types of marketing. However, they both have the same goal: to get more people to visit a website and make a purchase.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is based more on how a website is set up and what is on the website. The focus is on getting a higher organic ranking in the search engine results. That way more people will see the website and be likely to click on it. Optimization should be done so the website shows up for relevant keywords, ranking as high as possible for each keyword. Business owners don’t pay for the ranking for their website. They spend more time working on how the website is set up to get it to rank higher. 

PPC (Paid Per Click)

PPC, on the other hand, is paid ads that are designed to appear when people are searching for something relevant. They are created to get people to click through to the website. These ads do appear in the search results. However, some customers may be less likely to click on them because they are marked as paid ads. They provide immediate results, as opposed to search engine optimization which can take a while to make a difference. PPC ads are only paid for when someone does click the ad. This gives the business the chance to reach a wider audience and to adjust the ads at any time to determine exactly where and when they show up. 

The Difference Between SEO and PPC

While both of these types of marketing are very different, they both offer business owners the chance to display the website in the search results in an attempt to get more people to click through to the website. The way they work, how much it costs to implement, and how effective they are will be different. However, they both can be effective ways to market a business online. 

Search Engine Optimization Basics

Search engine optimization is a way of boosting the organic ranking for a website. It offers increased traffic to a website but also boosts the quality of traffic. This means those who do visit the website are more likely to make a purchase. The goal here is to give the search engines what they’re looking for and make the website look better to the search engines. That way the website is ranked as high as possible in search results for relevant keywords and phrases. This helps the website be more visible for search engine users, which leads to a much higher click-through rate and can end with a huge increase in leads. 

Search engines are designed to provide answers to any questions the user might have. Users are directed to several websites that might have the information they are looking for based on the keywords and phrases they search for. Websites that have more expert information are going to rank higher and are designed for better user experience. Search engine optimization includes finding the right keywords and phrases to optimize for, then adjusting the website so it meets the needs of the visitors. This is going to be the best option when search engine users are looking for something.

SEO Basics

Search engines use web crawlers to go through everything they can see online and determine how it matches up with other websites. They look through every single piece of information they can find on the internet and check out the many characteristics to determine what the information is about and how helpful it might be. For each keyword, they’ll look through all of the websites to find ones that are going to provide the best answer for the user and that are going to provide the best experience for the user. This includes the content of the website, how easy the website can be used, and even whether the website can be viewed on mobile devices so search engine users can get the information they need no matter where they are. The web crawler ranks all of the websites it finds, which determines each website’s placement in the search results. 

Website owners cannot directly impact how high their website ranks organically. They can, however, adjust the website and add more content to help the website look better to the web crawlers. That is exactly what search engine optimization techniques are designed to do. The techniques can include creating new, high-quality content, adjusting the layout of the website to make it easier for the web crawlers to see what’s on it, and more. A combination of techniques, from setting up the website properly to creating backlinks, can have the biggest and fastest impact. It will take some time for the web crawlers to notice the website, detect any changes, and adjust the website’s ranking though. 

How Long Does SEO Take to Make a Difference?

SEO is not a fast process and will not lead to higher rankings overnight. Web crawlers search the entire internet for websites that might be useful for search engine users. This is not a fast process that can change quickly. When possible, SEO should be implemented from the beginning and adjusted as necessary to boost the ranking for a website and keep it as high as possible. Depending on when the business owner starts using SEO on the website, as well as a variety of other factors, it could take up to 6 months before they start seeing results. The boost in visitors can be worth the wait. If the website was designed with SEO in mind, it might not take quite that long.

Advantages of Search Engine Optimization

Out of the many different forms of marketing, search engine optimization is one of the top strategies used right now, and for a good reason. Search engine optimization provides several benefits that business owners will be interested in. Some of those include the following.

cost effective

Cost-Effective – Search engine optimization is incredibly cost-effective. While many businesses will choose to hire a professional to handle the optimization, they do not have to pay for the higher ranking itself. Adjusting and improving the website will obtain a higher ranking organically.

long lasting impact

Long Lasting Impact – A website typically retains a higher ranking once it is optimized. It is necessary to continue to keep up with the optimization. As long as this is done it should remain in a higher position, though.

Branding Visibility

Branding Visibility Improved – Having high rankings for numerous keywords helps to keep the branding in view of customers. With branding that is connected to the answers to customer questions, trust is built.

High ROI

High Return on Investment – It doesn’t cost anything when a customer clicks on a link in the organic search results. While working with a professional on the optimizations requires an initial investment, the click through is free once the website ranks highly.

click through rate

Higher Click-Through Rate – Many search engine users do not want to click on paid ads and will look for organic search results instead. While ads can be effective, SEO generally leads to a much higher click-through rate.

strategic advantage

Strategic Advantage – If a website is only relying on paid ads in the search results, optimizing a website and reaching a higher ranking can provide an advantage over competitors.

Disadvantages of Search Engine Optimization

While SEO can be advantageous, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of as well. Business owners aware of the following disadvantages can plan for them and make sure the optimization for their website is as strong as possible.

  • Length of Time – SEO is incredibly slow, especially compared to pay-per-click advertisements. It’s also an ongoing process. It’s not something the business owner can receive the benefits of by only doing it once. More work needs to be put in to continue to reap the benefits.
  • Time-Consuming – SEO takes time to implement, and a lot of this time is working on each of the optimization features. Optimizing a website can be done with many different techniques. Using a variety of techniques is crucial, though it will take time to implement each of them.
  • Content Creation is Crucial – Content creation can be extremely beneficial when optimizing a website. However, the content needs to be high-quality and visible to the search engines. This takes time and money to create, especially if the business hires professionals to create content for them.
  • Visits Don’t Always Lead to Purchases – Many of the visitors that come from organic search results may not be interested in making a purchase right away. They may be looking for pre-purchase information. In order to encourage these visitors to make a purchase, other techniques need to be used on top of SEO.

Google Ads Basics

Pay-per-click may be the exact opposite of search engine optimization. Instead of working on the website to get a higher ranking, PPC ads allow businesses to purchase the top spots in the search results. These are marked as paid and are above the organic search results. Google AdWords is the top PPC advertising platform and is the one most business owners will want to start with as it has the widest audience reach.

How Exactly Do Ads Work?

AdWords begins with bidding on different keywords. Higher bids lead to a higher position and may lead to a larger click-through rate. The amount needed to bid on a keyword will depend on the amount of competition for that keyword. With little competition, the amount per click will be much lower. There is also the risk of fewer users seeing the ad, however. Bidding can be automated or it can be done manually. Manually, the business owner decides how much they want to pay for each click and the amount stays at that fixed amount. They can update this at any time. Automated is based on a maximum daily budget, with Google figuring out how much should be paid per click to stay under that budget. This helps optimize the keywords to get as much as possible for them. This may be a good strategy for beginners to use.

Google Ads Basics

Business owners need to create their ad once the keywords are chosen and the bid is determined. Business owners can go through basic steps to choose all details for their ad through the Google AdWords program. Once they have decided what the ad will say, how it looks, and when it should appear, it needs to be set up with the keywords that it will run for. Business owners can choose one or several keywords for each ad, depending on their preferences. The PPC ads will start appearing in the search engine results as soon as the billing information is entered.

How Long Do PPC Ads Take to Make a Difference?

Pay-per-click ads can lead to an almost instant increase in visitors to a website. The business owner will need to take time to create the ad, though this usually doesn’t take too much time. What will take time here is researching the right keywords to use for the ad. The PPC ad starts to appear at the top of the search engine results once the ad is created and the billing information is entered. This means search engine users can start seeing it immediately and may start clicking on it immediately. As long as a competitor doesn’t outbid the business, these ads will continue to be advertised at the top of the results. As long as the ad campaign is running they will continue to be seen by potential visitors.

Advantages of PPC

Pay-per-click advertising may seem expensive, but it doesn’t need to be and can still have a huge impact. They offer numerous benefits that SEO marketing will not have, which can include the following.

fast results

Fast Results – PPC doesn’t have a waiting period. Once the ad campaign starts, the website should start seeing more traffic. As long as the ad isn’t outbid and the campaign is still running, the traffic should continue.

targeted visibility

More Targeted Visibility – While SEO is a general way to rank higher, PPC ads are targeted for certain keywords. This means it’s possible to target the ads to those consumers who are more likely to click on the link and more likely to purchase from the business once they’re on the website.

scalable ppc

PPC is Scalable – It is easy to adjust the amount being spent per keyword and on each ad campaign. Businesses can instantly adjust the bids for these ads to change how much is being spent for the campaign. They can also cancel the campaign and create a new one as needed.

budgeted marketing

Good for Budgeted Marketing – Businesses looking to keep with a strict marketing budget can tailor how much they spend on their ads through the AdWords bidding techniques. A daily maximum can be set to control exactly how much is spent. This also ensures the ads don’t go over budget.

visual ads

Visual Ads are Possible – While the organic search results are typically just links for users to click on, pay-per-click ads can include shopping ads that have a photo of products. These can boost the click-through rate as consumers can see exactly what’s for sale from the business.

rapid feedback

Rapid Feedback – It’s easy to quickly determine how well a campaign is working or whether adjustments need to be made. Because of the quick increase in click-through rates, it’s easy to see what’s working and adjust to make the PPC ads far more effective.

Disadvantages of PPC

Pay-per-click advertising has tons of advantages that make it a great way to advertise. However, there are some downsides as well. Business owners should be aware of the downsides so they can plan around them. This way they can make sure any PPC ad campaign is as effective as possible. Some of the disadvantages of PPC ads include the following.

  • More Pay for Better Results – While PPC ads can be great for businesses on a budget, better results do come from paying more. More time and money should be spent on researching effective keywords and bidding for the best keywords.
  • PPC Doesn’t Lead to Long-Term Benefits – Once a PPC ad campaign ends, the clicks from the ad will end. To continue getting clicks, the ad needs to continue running. This will cost more money in the long run. A new campaign can be created at any time to boost clicks again, though.
  • Click Fraud is an Issue – Some companies will use manual clicks or software that mimics clicks to increase costs for their competitors drastically. In many cases, this can be caught, but there are ways for these companies to avoid detection. This runs up the bill for the business and can make their campaign less effective or reduce the bids for a keyword low enough the competition can take over.
  • Not as Many Clicks – While the increase in clicks is instant with paid ads, there may be fewer clicks thank from an organic search result. Many search users are wary of clicking on paid ads and would rather look for organic results. Even with a lowered click rate compared to SEO, PPC ads are at the top and can provide increased visibility.

Which One is Better to Use?

Since there are advantages and disadvantages for both SEO and PPC, which one is the better one to use? Both should be used together for the majority of businesses. Consumers value organic results over paid results, and today’s business environment doesn’t leave room for campaigns that take too long to get started. PPC ads can get the website appearing at the top fast and SEO can help the website reach the top organic position. That means both will work together to increase the traffic to a website.

Pay-per-click and optimization are opposites and are very different terms of marketing. They can be combined to lead to a higher amount of traffic and more leads for a business. Using both types of marketing leads to higher click-through rates, enables business owners to easily test what’s working, and can help boost the branding for the business. That means consumers are more likely to search for the business when they are ready to make a purchase.

Pay-per-click ads will start off helping the business right away. They’re designed to make it easy to get to the top position. It costs money every time the ad is clicked, though. This allows the business to make sure their website is easily seen by consumers for the most relevant keywords immediately. Once this is occurring, the business can adjust its focus to search engine optimization. They’ll be able to work on the slower marketing method, adjusting and trying new techniques to boost the organic ranking for the website. Over time, the website will rank much higher organically. The PPC ads can then be focused on different keywords that might be impacted more from the paid ads.

While PPC and SEO are both effective marketing strategies, they are very different and can be used in unique ways to help boost website traffic. Business owners considering these marketing techniques to help drive more traffic to their website and create more leads for the business should consider using both of them together. The advantages of both can shine and the disadvantages can be minimized, leading to a more effective marketing campaign that helps the business grow even bigger.

Contact ROI Amplified today, and we can tell you which service you need right now.

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Zack Bowlby

Zack Bowlby

Zack Bowlby is the Chief Executive Officer of ROI Amplified a full-service digital marketing agency located in Tampa, Florida. Before ROI Amplified, Zack worked in highly visible roles at companies such as The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (Home of Winter the Dolphin) and The National Football League (NFL). A Google Advertising expert, Zack has spent well over $40 million dollars in Google Ads in his career. In 2017, he started focusing on Marketing automation systems such as Marketo. Zack and ROI Amplified believe in data-driven solutions and complete transparency with their clients. If you’d like to amplify your marketing dollars consider partnering with ROI Amplified today! Get on Zack’s Schedule Today