Search engine traffic is the best traffic you can get.
Because you are reaching potential customers right when they are searching for your products or services.
Whether your ranking organically with SEO or paying for traffic via PPC – both approaches deliver qualified buyers to your site.
So which one should you use for your business?
Spoiler alert – You should use BOTH.
I’ll show you the key differences of SEO vs PPC and show you why you should combine both techniques to maximise results.
What Will I Learn?
SEO vs PPC ads are two different strategies used to help you drive targeted search engine traffic to your website.
So here’s what you need to know about these methods:
Your goal is to work with the search engine algorithm and optimise your page so that the algorithm naturally ranks your site in the SERPs.
SEO has a ton of advantages over other marketing strategies. If you aren’t focusing on SEO, you are missing out in the long run.
First of all, SEO is very cost-effective compared to PPC.
Even if you outsource your SEO needs to a quality SEO agency, it should cost far less than setting up a complete PPC campaign.
That means you will reap a much higher return later down the track.
Probably the biggest advantage of SEO vs PPC is that the results are long-lasting.
Here’s what I mean:
If you turn off your Google ads campaign right now, your traffic dies immediately.
That’s not the case with SEO.
SEO takes some time to generate results, but once you’re on the first page of the SERPS, you get tons of organic traffic.
The best part?
You don’t have to pay directly for that traffic. Once you rank, you will continue to get targeted traffic for free for a long-time to come.
The goal of any marketing strategy is to deliver a high ROI (ROI = return on investment).
SEO is no different.
In fact, SEO delivers one of the highest ROIs of any marketing strategy you can implement. Can you belive it?
Because you don’t need to invest lots of money to generate huge amounts of sales – your ROI is significantly higher.
But don’t think of ROI only in terms of sales.
SEO also helps:
Not only that but many people skip over the PPC text ads in the search results and only look through the organic results.
Put simply – they don’t trust the ads.
Ranking organically helps increase trust with potential customers, leading to a big increase in leads and sales.
A successful SEO campaign clearly has a lot of advantages.
But there are some downsides you need to consider.
There’s no way around it…
SEO is a long-term game. You can’t optimise your site for a bunch of keywords and expect to be on the first page tomorrow.
Most SEO campaigns take 9+ months (often longer) before you start to see a good ROI.
It takes time to increase your domain authority and optimise it for higher rankings.
It also takes time to build enough trust with Google, where they are actively ranking your website in their search results.
This is a continuous process that takes time to see results.
Don’t be fooled.
Despite what you may have read online – SEO isn’t easy.
There are no quick fixes and fast shortcuts. SEO takes hard work and requires considerable dedication to get great results.
Think of SEO as a continuous process. You need to constantly:
It’s even more complicated if you are in a competitive industry with bigger and more established sites.
Be prepared to commit to your SEO campaign for the long run.
Probably the most significant disadvantage of SEO is that you are at the mercy of Google.
That’s why reputable SEO agencies don’t offer guaranteed Google rankings.
If Google changes their algorithm, you need to adjust. Otherwise, your rankings will take a hit. That’s just the name of the game.
It’s important to note that the core foundation of SEO doesn’t change that much. But your overall strategy will need to adjust to Google’s continuous updates.
Although we know many Google ranking factors, no one knows them all.
This makes SEO more unpredictable because you constantly change, adapt and optimise your website based on how it ranks in the SERPs.
PPC stands for “pay-per-click”.
It simply means you only have to pay when someone clicks on the ad.
The amount you pay depends on two things:
The most popular form of PPC is Google text ads.
It makes sense, right?
Google is the largest search engine in the world, so lots of advertisers run Google ads to claim the top spots quickly.
First and foremost, the biggest advantage of PPC is that you could set up a campaign today and start generating results almost immediately.
And the best part?
The traffic is super targeted.
This advantage of PPC is almost unmatched by any other paid ads strategy.
Don’t want to worry about Google algorithm changes?
With PPC you don’t have to. The frequent algorithm changes that Google makes don’t affect Google ads.
This is a significant benefit for PPC advertisers.
Once you have an ad and keyword that’s working for you, it’s easy to:
Paid search campaigns are easier to control and you can scale them as you want.
With SEO you don’t have that level of control.
Just like SEO, there are some clear downsides to PPC.
Paid search comes with many challenges that even experts can find difficult to overcome.
The PPC model is based on advertisers bidding against each other.
Advertisers enter an auction to bid on keywords. While your bid amount is not the only factor in a paid search campaign, it plays an important role.
Think about it:
When you are competing against hundreds of other businesses for a single keyword, it will get expensive.
For example, if I was running a Google Ads campaign for my SEO agency, Semrush estimates it would cost me about $17.75 per click!
That’s a lot.
Depending on your niche and industry, PPC can get expensive fast.
Remember that you are buying traffic with PPC – not earning it.
As soon as you stop paying, your traffic will drop off.
This is clearly the biggest downside of PPC.
Unlike SEO, where you create a competitive advantage and build on a campaign, PPC comes down to how much money you are willing to spend.
This means you need to focus more on conversions when running a paid search campaign to ensure you are getting a solid return on your investment.
Think of it like this…
Bottom line: SEO takes time but provides long-lasting results. PPC gets results quickly but will cost a lot more in the long run.
Here’s the truth:
Both have their unique advantages and downsides.
So to get the best out of these methods, it makes sense to combine them. More than that, SEO and PPC can actually complement each other very well.
These are the top 3 ways that pros combine SEO and PPC to work together.
Quality PPC strategies are all about finding profitable keywords. Because part of running ads is testing, PPC specialists often test different keywords at scale.
You can use your PPC keyword data to help you choose ideal keywords for SEO targeting.
The benefit of this is knowing which keywords are worth investing in for SEO.
Once you rank for that keyword, you’ll save tons of money because you no longer need to spend as much money on Google ads.
Not sure what to put as your meta description and title?
Just do a quick Google search and look at the Google text ads running at the top of the search results pages.
PPC advertisers spend tons of time testing and optimising their text ads. Use this information to your advantage and write better descriptions and titles.
Paying for the top position with a Google ad is no longer enough.
A growing number of users avoid clicking on paid ads and only click on organic search results. Only about 10% of people actually click on paid search ads.
If you are just running ads, you will miss out on up to 90% of all traffic!
Intelligent marketers run ads on profitable keywords even if they already rank for those same keywords. This increases sales and gets you more visibility in the SERPs.
You might be thinking…
“Won’t that mean you’re competing against yourself?”
The answer – No.
Wouldn’t you rather be the first website they see?
The key to using this kind of strategy is ensuring that you are only running ads and ranking for keywords that are profitable for your business.
SEO vs PPC is more a myth than reality.
As a recap these are the pros and cons of SEO compared to PPC:
…And where PPC is weak, SEO is strong.
The truth is that intelligent marketers are finding ways to use SEO and PPC together to:
Ready to start ranking your website this year? Follow this SEO checklist.