SEO vs. PPC- What Should I Use and When?

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SEO vs PPC, it’s the age old debate. Or… a 20-year old debate?

However long it is, you can’t ignore that there are two schools of thought when it comes to promoting your website and driving traffic to your business. If you’re new to SEO, check out our introduction to SEO and head back here.

Why bother with SEO?

We’ve discussed why SEO is so important for your website, though to recap: SEO is absolutely critical to the success of your business. SEO is the difference between people never hearing about you and finding your site and resonating with your brand for free.

SEO is the difference between a few visits to your site’s blog and hundreds. So that’s all you need right?

Well, paid search has it’s benefits too, as if there aren’t enough acronyms already floating around in your head we’ve got another one to think about in your business strategy. That acronym is PPC.

PPC stands for pay-per-click. This term diverges from SEO in multiple ways which we will examine below. Recognizing the differences between SEO and PPC is an important one.

In addition, it is also important to understand when one should employ these strategies and how to do so. These topics will be explored in this article.

What is PPC?

Before going further, it will be important to define PPC. Because we have devoted other articles to defining SEO, we will not go into too much depth on defining it here. However, remember that SEO stands for search-engine optimization and essentially is the art of ranking high on a search engine in the unpaid section known as organic listings.

On the other hand, as its name implies, PPC stands for pay-per-click. The traffic you get from your website using PPC is not free because you must pay a cost per click. PPC is a method of marketing in which you advertise on search engine results pages. You may have seen these employed by companies before but did not recognize them as PPC ads. As a quick example, here is an ad that comes up when you search, “how does PPC work?”

As you can see, the first result that appears is an ad from LinkedIn. LinkedIn used an advertising platform such as Google Ads (AdWords), Bing Ads or Facebook’s advertising platform to promote a page on their website.

This term is called PPC because you must pay for every user who clicks on the ad you are promoting.

With this knowledge of the difference between the organic search results you would strive for by ensuring your website is optimized for search engines and the paid search results you would get through using PPC, you may be wondering, “How do I know when to use SEO vs. PPC?”

That topic is what we will turn to next.

Integrating SEO and PPC

Before analyzing when one should use SEO and PPC, it is important to emphasize that these methods do not preclude the other. You will always want to rely on SEO to promote your business but there are also opportunities when you can capitalize on PPC to reap further benefits to your website.

Therefore, the best approach is to integrate both approaches in your business strategy. Now that this observation is made, we will look at the advantages that SEO and PPC offer independent of each other.

When to Use SEO

SEO is best used in several circumstances. Investing in SEO allows your website to gain consistent traffic. While getting to the top page of SERP is an arduous process, once you get there your website is more likely to appear there again.

Unlike PPC, SEO does not require money to guarantee results. When you stop investing money in PPC, the traffic to your website will decline. If you are looking for long-term results, SEO is the better option.

Beyond guaranteeing consistent results, SEO also is used by those seeking to become an expert in their field. While PPC depends on how much access one has to resources, SEO depends on generating a solid reputation as the someone whom visitors rely on for detailed and expert content.

Finally, while this advantage may seem obvious, SEO is cheaper money-wise than PPC.  While SEO is more costly than PPC due to the amount of time you must invest in it, SEO clearly delivers more consistent and expert content than PPC.

When to Use PPC

You may be wondering when I would want to invest in PPC as a marketing strategy. Obviously, PPC works much faster than SEO. Your ads for specific pages on your website will guarantee instant results. When people search for a keyword related to your website, your website will appear near the top of search engine results pages.

These fast results would best be used for new products on your website, promotions or event related to your product or business.

An advantage of using PPC is that in many platforms such as Google AdWords or on social media, you can target audience members by demographic. This advantage of PPC would be helpful to reach audience members that fulfill any buyer or audience personas you have created.

PPC also allows you to experiment with your content. The PPC traffic you gain to your website speaks to the quality of the content you are promoting. Experimenting with different types of PPC can fuel insights into what is working or not with your SEO strategy.

Finally, if your company is running a time-sensitive offer to customers, you will want to use PPC since it guarantees faster results than SEO.

While PPC does provide numerous advantages, competitive fields can cause these ads to become expensive quickly.

The amount that you invest in PPC depends on the resources available to you. While some larger companies can afford to run PPC campaigns, smaller start-ups will have to be smart with the campaigns they choose to run.

Going Forward

As you can see, recognizing the difference between when to use SEO or PPC is crucial to your marketing strategy.

SEO is the method you will employ every day while PPC is something you may choose to elect for special occasions such as a new product or an exciting development for your business.

To get started on a PPC campaign, check out Google Ads or Bing Ads found by clicking on those hyperlinks.

Now that you know the differences between SEO and PPC, you can begin recognizing the ways in which you incorporate both into your company’s strategy.

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