SEO vs. PPC: Which is Better for your Marketing Strategy?

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One of the most frequent questions inexperienced business owners ask me is “Which is better for my online visibility- SEO or PPC?” Answering this question isn’t that simple, as your investment depends on your current online reputation, finances, target audience, long-term and short-term goals, and marketplace.

While SEO boosts an online presence in the long-run, PPC gives a competitive advantage to the businesses having a hard time generating traffic from organic search. Therefore, instead of choosing one practice over another, you should understand how they work and integrate them for better results.

SEO may be Slow, but It’s a Long-Term Investment


Optimizing your site for search engines isn’t all about rankings, traffic, and conversions. Click To Tweet

If executed strategically, SEO helps you build persistent and authoritative online presence. It boosts your brand exposure on Google, builds trust and credibility among your customers, and positions you as a highly authoritative online resource.

So, if you want to rise above your competition as the industry leader, SEO is your most valuable tool. Unfortunately, its results cannot be seen overnight. It requires taking smaller steps towards reaching greater goals, which includes:

  • having a responsive site
  • creating high-quality content
  • understanding your target audience
  • providing impeccable customer support
  • earning reputable external links
  • building a consistent social media presence
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PPC Drives Instant, but Short-Term Results

The idea behind PPC is simple. Once a user googles keywords you’re targeting, your ad will appear in the sponsored results in the SERPs. And, the major benefit of paid ads lies in the fact that they drive instant results, especially if you’re planning to:

  • Boost your website traffic in the SERPs instantly. The moment a PPC campaign is approved, your ad gets displayed to millions to the users conducting relevant searches. And, according to Google, greater exposure drives higher brand awareness.
  • Improve sales. PPC lets you put your product placements (the product name, price, photo, and purchase link) in front of the right people.
  • Promote a time-sensitive offer. Marketing product launches, events, or new services to your target customers should evoke FOMO (fear of missing out). Precisely because of that, they need to have an explicit expiration date and this is where PPC can help, as it will give your offers the visibility you need in a matter of minutes.
  • Stay competitive for your keyword category. Paid ads have a prominent position in the SERPs and attract 41% of clicks. Not investing in them means sending a significant share of traffic to your rivals.

However, unlike SEO, PPC doesn’t drive long-term results. Namely, the moment you stop investing in it, your ad won’t appear in front of your target audience anymore.

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Driving Qualified Traffic vs. Increasing Conversions


An SEO expert Barry Adams tweeted: “So let’s kill this debate once and for all. Organic traffic beats paid traffic for every single metric.”

Organic search is generally more popular among online users and that’s why it drives more traffic. According to MarTech, up to 80% of online users are only focusing on organic search results.

However, it’s not only website traffic, but end results we should observe. And, this is where figures change dramatically, as PPC visitors are 50% more likely to complete a purchase than organic visitors. The famous Pareto Principle can explain this phenomenon- 80% of your business revenue comes from just 20% of your leads.

To boost your sales, you need to get in front of the right people and that’s where PPC shines. Click To Tweet

Based on their age range, gender, income bracket, education level, marital status, and location, AdWords lets you target only those people that are relevant to your business and prevent your ad from appearing in front of irrelevant audiences. By narrowing your target audience, you will manage to drive more qualified visitors to your site and guide them down the sales funnel towards making a purchase. This also a great way to control the costs of your PPC campaign.

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Major Price Differences

To build a solid SEO campaign, you need to either hire an agency or build an in-house SEO team and equip them with the right tools to do their job. In the US, the majority of businesses are allocating less than $5000 per month to SEO. Even though investing in your SEO tactics may cost you a penny, the traffic you drive from them is free. This is what we mean by “free organic traffic.”

On the other hand, PPC basically means that you’re going to pay for each click on your ad. Stats show that the average cost per click in AdWords is around $2, while the priciest keywords can exceed $50 per click. Moreover, an average small business spends about $10,000 per month on PPC. It’s also important to mention that PPC isn’t all about the money you invest. When placing your ad, Google uses Ad Rank, combining your CPC bid and your quality score (Google’s metric that tracks your CTR, ad relevance, and landing page quality).

There is no need to observe SEO and PPC as opposing strategies. I always emphasize the importance of combining them to give your online presence a notable boost. Additionally, as your site is the backbone of your online presence, don’t forget to make it responsive, search-friendly, and visually pleasing. Otherwise, a visitor will run away from you without even exploring your offers.

Nate Vickery Vickery is a marketing consultant and author mostly engaged in researching the latest marketing technology trends and practices applicable to startups and SMBs. He is also the editor at Bizzmark Blog and an author on The Next Web.

  • 209
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