SEO vs. PPC: Which Is the Best for You

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 23, 2015

These days few consumers do business without some kind of interaction online, whether they are researching the best services, following their favorite businesses on social media, or actually ordering products through online shops. It’s not enough for businesses to just offer the very best quality services anymore. They must consider their web presence, how the public views their websites and how easily they find it.

So you have this slick new website. Your e-commerce is all set up and ready to take in that flood of new customer orders. But the orders aren’t rolling in. Nobody is visiting this slick new website. How can you increase traffic and actually get some eyes on your product? Your answer might be an SEO or PPC marketing campaign.

What Is PPC?

Even if you don’t know what the acronym means, you know PPC. You see these ads every time you use Google or other search engines. When you search “best dog food brands” expecting to see lists and comparisons, there are those three ads sitting up top (and in the sidebar) from companies encouraging you to just click there and order some Blue Buffalo right now instead.

PPC stands for “Pay-Per-Click.” These ads are sold at auction to the bidder who will pay the most each time a searcher clicks. This means that putting ads on very competitive keywords will cost more but less popular queries could cost pennies.

Advantages of PPC

Immediate Results
You will see almost right away if your ads are attracting customers. Changes can be made just as fast to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Higher Conversion Rate
Not everyone you lure to your site will be buying what you’re selling but customers who click on ads are statistically more likely to follow through.

As long as you’re willing to put up the money, you can get any keyword you want. You are seen on the exact keyword you want. You know exactly what page customers will land on when they click your ad. If you pay for the ad, there’s no doubt about if it will work, just how well.

What is SEO?

I like to explain Search Engine Optimization as “explaining the human world to the bots.” Search engines decide where websites rank with the help of some complicated algorithms and an army of bots. These bots look for certain clues to tell them how much their human masters will like a website and if it will meet those humans’ needs. If you hire someone to optimize your website, they will guide those bots into seeing how well your site meets those needs.

Advantages of SEO

Long Term Results
It may take a while for your site to creep up in rankings but, unlike PPC, these results stick around. If a competitor does start to overtake you, your SEO should see them coming and be ready to defend your spot.

SEO is called the “natural” or “organic” way to increase traffic. Search engine ranks are earned with quality. Bots are smart (and so are the people who create them) so attempts to trick them will only work for so long, if they work at all. Ranking high on search engines lends credibility to a company and rightfully so.

Greater Increase in Clicks
Remember that dog food search we did earlier? Did you imagine yourself clicking that ad and buying the food that was being pushed at you? If you are like 80% of searchers, you balked at the idea of being sold to and skipped right past the ads to the “real sites.” While PPC might get you more serious buyers, SEO bring significantly more eyes to your site. You can get 80% of people to click and maybe buy something or 20% to probably buy. Even with lower conversion rates, SEO is statistically more effective.

Which Is Right For You?

Ideally, your business should do both, preferably with through an agency whose SEO and PPC departments will work together to get you the best possible results. But this might not be an option for every company. If you have to make a choice, consider the merits of each service.

SEO tends to be cheaper with more effective and lasting results but there are times when PPC is preferable. Ranking high on the search engines is great for reeling in lots of small transactions but, if you are selling big ticket items, you may want to sacrifice some clicks for those higher conversion rates. PPC is also great for short bursts of increased traffic like when a company or site is first launched or to drum up hype for an event.

There isn’t one method of online marketing that will work for every website. And what works for you now might not be what you need down the road. Make sure you find a strategy that works for your current goals and hire someone who will keep your goals in mind instead of offering a cookie cutter strategy for your unique business.