This is an age-old question which we have faced time and again. Clients ask us all the time to suggest which one is better? Which one should they consider? Well, to be honest, there is no right answer to this and I will try my best to provide a holistic view on this matter.
Let’s start with SEO
SEO as we all know is short for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of constant content optimization of websites and webpages so that it improves the potential of your site to rank in the organic results in various search engines. SEO provides organic traffic which is free of cost but it takes a while to rank in organic search results.
SEO is a long term process and you might need the help of an expert to achieve top ranks faster. It takes us primarily a little over 3 months to rank for low competition keywords and somewhere around 9-12 months to rank for high competition keywords. Rank here refers to the first page ranks only.
Let’s take a look at some PROs and CONs of SEO
- Organic Traffic – No marketing can provide free, credible, and organic traffic like SEO does. It takes time to reach the top ranks but it sure is worth the time and effort. Once you reach the summit you can even pause your SEO for a while and it will not matter. Ranking in the top spot means you start reaping the advantage of the vicious cycle of SEO. More people will link to your site which will in turn drive more and more traffic thus fortifying your position further in the search engines results’ page.
- Credibility – Some users do not pay attention to search ads on the results page. Having your site turn up in the organic results will boost your credibility as a brand. Viewers will put more trust in your brand and will more likely consider you for their requirements.
- Cost-effectiveness – SEO is not entirely free, to be honest, as it takes a considerable amount of time and effort (read investment) to build your position in the organic results. Once you acquire the ranks it helps drive a lot of traffic and boosts your business. As it’s organic you are not charged on a per-click basis and you can continue to reap the benefits for as long as you want without any other cost implications. The ROI, when compared to other paid media, is way better.
- Competitive advantage – it takes a lot of time to enter the top ranks of SEO. It is neither quick nor easy. So once you fortify your position in the organic results, it will not be easy for your competitors to buy a spot above you. So you can continue to reap benefits from your organic traffic while they have to put in the work to get a spot in the top ranks. It’s always good to start SEO early because the early bird gets the rank (considering that you do everything right and you are not competing with giants like Amazon or eBay).
- Keyword competition – It might happen that the keywords you are targeting are showing results for big brands. This indicates that you need to rethink your keyword strategy because it will take years to outrank big brands or conglomerates who have a huge team working round the clock for their organic rankings. You cannot possibly compete with them and win soon enough.
- Content Development – The only way to achieve strong organic visibility is through quality content assets. Constant content optimization and content development require a dedicated in-house team. You can also hire an SEO agency for the same but there is a cost implication in both options.
- Time – SEO is a time taking process and it is not a myth. If you are willing to rank organically by using the right measures then you need to be patient. SEO doesn’t come with quick results but it does provide sustainability and a good ROI over long periods of time. If time is a constraint and you are looking for quick results then SEO is not meant for you.
Now we shift our attention towards PPC
PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising solution is provided by many online platforms. Google has Adwords, other social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Quora also have their own respective PPC offerings.
PPC is a marketing model where ads are displayed and you pay for the clicks which ultimately drive traffic to your website. PPC is flexible in nature and you can target your campaigns with laser point accuracy. It takes experience though to set up a successful PPC campaign right off the bat. You may need to optimize it constantly if you have never run one before.
Let’s look at some of the PROs and CONs of PPC
- Fast and effective – PPC campaigns are the best bet when you want results and you want it now. A PPC campaign can be up and running in a matter of weeks and unlike SEO it starts providing visible results right from the start. PPC is the fastest way to reach in front of customers who make search queries with the intent to purchase. A short PPC Ad campaign can also serve as an effective tool for testing a new product or a marketing message. It delivers quick results and indicates key gaps in the process.
- Targeting – PPC provides the best targeting options to position your brand in front of potential customers. You have control over various factors viz., Query Keywords, Time, Days of the week, Geographical location, demographical factors, devices, and other audience factors. SEO in comparison is far more scattered.
- A/B Testing – PPC provides the flexibility and the option to test multiple ad sets, landing pages, and even CTAs to ascertain which performs better. This can prove to be beneficial as this information acts as market feedback and thus can be implemented in other areas of marketing.
- Insights – PPC provides marketing data and insights, unlike organic search. It is very easy to determine which keywords are performing better and what is the conversion percentage and cost implications for the same. Analytics software (Google Analytics) provide the option for deeper research and study of each campaign.
- Can be Expensive – If not managed properly the cost of a PPC campaign can spiral out of control. Lack of proper research and experience can prove to be costly in this scenario. Targeting entire counties or international campaigns will come with a huge price tag.
- Continued Investment – Unlike SEO, PPC is pay for results marketing. Once you stop the investment the traffic goes away and the leads cease to pour in. Paid advertising is viable as long as the acquisition cost is right.
- Expert Management and Optimization – A successfuland cost-effective PPC campaign needs the expertise of a veteran. A lot of things need to be monitored and optimized viz., Bids, Quality Scores, Positions, and Click-through rates. You need the help of an expert to keep things in check and manage your costs efficiently.
- Constant Need for Improvement – PPC Ads become boring and repetitive after a while and you need to change and improve your ad copies and messaging from time to time. PPC ads can be easily imitated by your competitors too. They can even get a glimpse of your entire funnel and strategize accordingly.
SEO vs. PPC – Conclusion
Well, I tried to give you a quick glimpse of both the worlds of SEO and PPC. The factor that will influence the decision to choose one over the other is the nature of your business along with the time and financial prowess that you have.
So the question that you need to ask is not SEO or PPC. The questions are: Do you need leads now or can you manage without them for the time being? Are you in for the long marathon or do you want to win the short sprint? Do you have any website traffic or is it too dry out there? What is the level of competition in organic search keywords that you are willing to target? What is the cost per click in PPC?
Chalking out clear short and long-term business goals is an essential step that needs to be taken before concluding whether to choose SEO or PPC.
SEO and PPC – The Suggestion
This is every marketer’s dream, the best of both worlds, an integrated symbiotic strategy for both long and short-term returns. SEO and PPC together make a great team and support each other beautifully. You can do a lot of things if you integrate both. PPC can provide keyword and conversion data which can be used to optimize organic traffic i.e. SEO. High cost, high volume keywords for your business can be moved from PPC to organic search. Leverage Remarketing to cast a net on your organic viewers and boost your conversions.
Though implementing both SEO and PPC may not be an option for most businesses, it does ensure improved results. Utilizing both paid and organic channels ensure brand visibility and authority.
Do reach out to us if you are still confused between the two. For more such insights and updates keep an eye on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.