SEO Versus PPC: The What and the Why
Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing
are the top options for businesses that are interested in boosting traffic to
their sites. Understanding the difference between these options will help you
decide which approach is best for your business’s needs.
Defining SEO and PPC
Image via Flickr by SEOPlanter
SEO is the process of optimizing your site so that it organically
shows up in users’ search results. When you have effective SEO, you gain
traffic naturally because your page ranks highly on the search engine results
page (SERP). PPC marketing relies on paid placement within search engines. When
you’re using PPC, your page is guaranteed to show up at the top of the page,
over the organic results. While you can choose one or the other, you may find
that an integrated approach using both is best.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks that you’ll face with PPC is
the customer’s perception of those paid ads at the top of the page. It’s clear
to any viewer that the businesses shown above the search results are there due
to paid advertising. Many users skim right past these obvious ads and look
immediately to the organic search results instead. There’s no guarantee of the
value of a paid search result, while organic results appear because the search
engine has determined that these pages have relevant and useful information.
Return on Investment
It’s easier to understand the return on investment (ROI) when you’re working with PPC because you
pay for each click. It’s clear how many clicks you’ve received and what the
price was for each one. SEO is more difficult to evaluate when it comes to your
In one way, SEO is free because you don’t pay the search engine to
get traffic this way. However, there’s likely a cost associated with the
efforts that you put into developing good SEO. If you pay for content
generation, keyword research, or other aspects of your SEO strategy, it’s not
an entirely free endeavor. SEO is generally considered a more affordable
option, but it’s more difficult to calculate this for certain.
Ability to Meet Goals
The most important factor when you’re deciding between SEO and PPC marketing is your overall goal. General brand
awareness and information sharing is the primary goal of over 38% of
businesses. If this is the purpose of your marketing, SEO is an effective
approach because you can easily target the areas that customers are researching
simply by utilizing relevant keywords in your content. You can target multiple
keywords in a single piece without any additional investment.
SEO and website optimization are the best approach if you’re in
the nearly 15% of companies that say their goal is to get customers to a
physical location. Proper formatting and consistency in your business details
will help you earn a top spot in Google’s location listings. Meanwhile, PPC can
work well if you primarily want to get your products at the top of the search
Both SEO and PPC can have their place in your marketing campaign.
Use these approaches wisely to find the most affordable way to meet your goals.