A website cannot be successful without the right traffic. A steady flow of users is the lifeblood of any attempt to get exposure and traction online. For many businesses, their website is a crucial component that’s needed to reach and service new customers. The rise of the internet changed the business landscape forever and marketing strategies now centre around a company’s digital presence.
The core aspects of most digital marketing strategies are focused on acquiring website traffic. It’s important to understand the value of traffic and what determines the right kind of traffic for your business. Two powerhouse channels in digital marketing that have the potential to drive high volumes of traffic are search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Both SEO and PPC have their pros and cons. SEO can be a long-term, sustainable approach to generating traffic, as it focuses on improving the visibility and ranking of a website in search engine results. This can result in increased organic traffic and can help to improve the overall credibility and reputation of a business. However, it can take a long time to see the results of SEO efforts, and the process can be complex and requires specialised knowledge.
PPC, on the other hand, can provide immediate results and can be a good option for businesses that want to quickly drive traffic to their website. It is also a flexible and customisable approach, allowing businesses to target specific keywords and demographics. However, PPC is often expensive, and the cost can add up quickly if not managed properly.
In terms of determining the success of an online business, both SEO and PPC are important options to consider. In many scenarios, it may be best to use a combination of both approaches to maximise the benefits of both channels and minimise their potential drawbacks. Ultimately, the right approach will depend on the specific goals and needs of your business.
To evaluate these options, you must first understand what SEO and PPC are in detail and examine the pros and cons of both marketing channels to reach an informed decision.
What Is SEO?
As above, SEO stands for search engine optimisation. The practice of SEO is about “assisting” a website to be more attractive to search engines, with a focus on specific terms that users will type into Google or Bing.
Good SEO processes will optimise a website to improve its visibility and ranking in organic search engine results. This is achieved through a variety of tactics, such as keyword research, link building, and on-page optimisation.
Google and other search engines may periodically update their algorithms, which can impact a website’s ranking. However, SEO ultimately comes down to providing users with the most relevant and useful information for their search queries, as well as the best possible user experience.
While there are many factors that search engines consider when ranking websites, helpful information and user experience are two of the most important. By prioritising these elements, businesses can improve their organic search rankings and drive more traffic to their website.
Search engines strive to provide users with the most relevant and useful results for their search queries. This is why many people use the same search engine repeatedly, as they have come to trust the results they receive. This is the product that search engines offer to searchers.
To provide these results, search engines compare the different websites that are relevant to a given search query. And this is where SEO comes in. By optimising a website for search engines, businesses can improve their chances of ranking highly in search results, which can drive more traffic to their website.
SEO can be a complex and challenging process, but it is a crucial aspect of online marketing. With the vast majority of online searches starting on search engines like Google, it is essential for businesses to prioritise SEO in order to reach their target audience. In fact, 75-80% of online searches take place on Google, making it by far the most dominant search engine today.
What are the pros of good SEO?
- Organic SEO is very cost-effective. When done correctly, SEO can be far more cost-effective than any paid media campaign (including PPC)
- Organic SEO is forever (almost). A properly optimised site can keep its rankings for a very long time. Even when SEO works stops. PPC rankings end the moment that you stop putting money in.
- Search engine positioning is relatively stable whereas PPC ad positions will change according to your targeting, budget and bidding strategies. A well-optimised site (good link authority and great content) can hold its position even if you need to step away.
- Organic SEO builds credibility and trust. Ads are known to be untrusted by users and often skipped. By increasing your authority and rankings naturally, you can be seen as more credible by online users.
- Organic SEO results will often have much higher click-through rates and better engagement rates.
What are the cons to SEO?
- SEO is a slow, long-term strategy. In general, SEO takes much longer to bear fruit when compared to PPC. It can potentially take months after starting an SEO campaign to start seeing results, whereas PPC will start getting you leads almost immediately.
- SEO is never finished. Your site will never be 100% optimised, it will only get more and more optimised as you put more work into it. The more work you do, the better the return on investment as it’s a compounding effect.
- SEO is very time-consuming, especially if you choose to do it yourself. SEO is more of an art than a science and it can take many years to learn how to do this properly.
- SEO is like trying to hit a moving target. While the fundamental processes of good SEO remain the same, Google and other search engines are continuously updating and changing their algorithms.
What is PPC?
PPC marketing is a form of online advertising where businesses pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. These ads typically appear above the organic search results on search engines, and advertisers can choose specific keywords and demographics to target.
The amount that businesses pay for PPC ads is determined by a bidding process, where advertisers bid on the perceived value of a click based on the keywords, competitors, and audience type. This means that the cost of a PPC ad can vary depending on a variety of factors. The effectiveness of PPC ads is determined by the quality of ads which directly affect costs and the likelihood of achieving interactions from target customers.
PPC advertising can be a great way for businesses to quickly drive traffic to their website and reach their target audience. Popular PPC platforms include Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords), Bing Ads, and Facebook’s advertising platform. By utilising these platforms, businesses (and agencies on their behalf) can create and manage their PPC campaigns and track the success of their ads.
What are the pros of good PPC?
- PPC is very fast. Setting up and launching a PPC campaign is much faster when compared with how long it might take to achieve organic rankings.
- PPC is almost entirely in your control. You set your budget and, after you have enough data, you’ll have a decent idea of how many leads you will receive in return. The only thing that you can’t control is your competitors.
- PPC is very flexible. If markets change or your business pivots, you can quickly pause and update your ads to reflect the new position.
- Your efforts are more targeted through PPC as you have options for keywords, geography, audience signals, different times of the day and week and more! With SEO, you’re more reliant on experience, expertise and good research to inform your targeting.
- PPC advertising has many format. In some scenarios, visual ads such as images or video might be more effective and increase clicks to your website. While different results formats are possible through SEO, there’s a lot less control over these sorts of elements.
What are the cons to PPC?
The more you pay doesn’t always equate to better results. Especially if you’re ads aren’t setup correctly to being with. In our experience, platforms like Google encourage businesses to experiment with ads without properly informing them of processes, practices and techniques to get the most value for money. Often, businesses learn an expensive lesson before contacting a professional. Here are some other drawbacks to running a PPC campaign:
- Researching and choosing the most effective keywords to bid on can be very time-consuming. Managing keywords, measuring returns, adjusting your spend and making well-informed decisions is a full-time job.
- PPC is like a tap and once you turn it off, it stops sending you leads. The same features that make PPC fast and flexible can also be problematic. SEO is long-lasting and while it’s never truly done, it’s always on.
- PPC is generally not as cost-effective as SEO. The continuous cost per click means there will always be an expensive overhead per sale that doesn’t (easily) improve if scaled. SEO on the other hand is often described as a fixed investment that pays dividends when a site ranks for high volume keywords.
- “Click Fraud” is when companies use manual clicks or damaging software that simulates human clicks from different IP addresses around the world. Google can detect some of this fraud but there are ways to evade this detection and bad actors can cost you a lot of money over time.
Search Engine Optimisation or Pay Per Click?
Deciding between SEO and PPC advertising can be a difficult choice for businesses, as both strategies have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The right choice for your business will depend on a variety of factors, such as your industry, target audience, and marketing goals.
One key factor to consider is your competition. If your business is in a highly competitive market, you may want to consider PPC advertising to gain a quick boost in visibility and drive leads to your website. On the other hand, if you have less competition, you may be able to achieve similar results with a well-executed SEO strategy that focuses on building your website’s authority and improving its ranking in organic search results.
Another important factor to consider is the stage of your business. If you are a new eCommerce store trying to compete against established players, it may be more expensive to bid on our specific search terms and organic channels might be the better option.
Ultimately, the best approach will depend on your specific business and goals. A clear digital marketing strategy that outlines your short- and long-term goals, as well as a thorough analysis of your competition and target audience, can help you make an informed decision between SEO and PPC.
The Best of Both Worlds
In an ideal world, combining SEO and PPC advertising can provide a synergistic boost to your digital marketing efforts. By leveraging the strengths of both strategies, you can drive better results and maximise the return on your overall investment.
There are several benefits to running SEO and PPC together, including:
- PPC can provide immediate results while you work on improving your organic ranking. As your website begins to rank better in organic search results, you can gradually reduce your reliance on PPC advertising.
- Data from PPC campaigns can be used to optimize your organic search efforts, such as by identifying high-performing keywords and improving click-through rates.
- You can target specific keywords with either organic search or PPC, depending on your goals and budget. This can help you maximize the visibility of your website and reach the right audience at different stages of the customer journey.
- A/B testing of PPC ad copy and landing pages can provide valuable insights that can be applied to your organic search efforts, helping to improve your organic ranking and user experience.
- Remarketing allows you to stay in front of visitors who have already interacted with your website, providing an additional touchpoint to drive conversions.
- By appearing in both organic and paid search results, you can increase your visibility and build trust with potential customers.
Overall, combining SEO and PPC can provide a powerful boost to your digital marketing efforts and help you achieve your business goals.
We’re continuously working towards offering the best services for our clients, including evolving and adapting to industry changes, new technologies, features and channels. If you’d like to discuss our SEO or PPC services (or both) in more detail, please give us a call.