Pros, Cons, and Useful Insights for SEO and PPC

Your marketing strategy is extremely important when it comes to running an online business. By adopting the right strategy, you will basically enjoy more exposure, more traffic to your website, more potential clients and obviously, a better chance of making high profits in the long run. Your marketing strategy is usually based on two great tools you have at your disposal – PPC and SEO.

PPC stands for pay-per-click. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Both these tools have their own pros and cons and by using them judiciously, you can definitely increase traffic to your website and sell more products. There are two major differences between SEO and PPC and it is important to understand them completely before using these two powerful tools. First of all, the PPC method puts your ads at the top of a page where they have higher visibility. SEO-based ads grown out of organic traffic are usually placed lower and they have less visibility. The second difference is that the organic traffic you built with SEO is free of charge while if you rely on PPC you have to pay on a consistent basis to get traffic to your website (that’s why it is called “pay-per-click”).

In this article, we are going to look at these two tools in greater details and come up with pros and cons. There’s isn’t a “set and forget formula” for each business, you have to constantly adjust and improve your marketing strategy using either one or both of these methods. Keep reading to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of SEO and PPC.

SEO Advantages

Best Investment for Long Term Benefits, Gain More Organic Traffic

“Organic” in this case refers to the fact that the traffic your site gets is not paid for or artificial. It comes naturally and increases over time. Let’s take a look at the benefits of SEO:

Awareness – you will utilize different types of keywords to drive traffic to your website and by using SEO, you gain more visibility in search engines. This method drives brand awareness and it is quite similar to as if you were paying for traffic.

Branding – this refers to the fact that you can become an authority within your specific niche or domain. In other words, if you constantly use a bank of keywords and gain more visibility as a result of this action, people will start to notice this and routinely visit your website if you have good content. By having more traffic than other websites for these specific keywords, you have high chances of becoming an authority in the niche.

Credibility and trust there are usually two types of ads which are displayed on most web pages – organic and paid ones. As a good rule of thumb, most people tend to trust organic ads more often than paid ads because they are not “forced” or “too salesy”. By carefully using SEO, your ads can appear in search engines in an organic manner which makes your readership trust you more. It basically tells that the content or products you sell speak for themselves and you don’t have to push ads to make money.

Website traffic – as mentioned earlier, organic traffic works similar to the snowball effect: it starts rolling and it will keep rolling on its own, pushed forward by its own momentum. By increasing website traffic, your online business becomes more popular, more appreciated, and gives you more leverage on how to monetize it more efficiently.

Cost per click – or better say the lack of it because organic SEO traffic is free of charge, as opposed to PPC. Granted, your website won’t become hugely popular within days or weeks, but this strategy is still extremely effective in the long run.

Return on investment (ROI) – most experts agree that with SEO you get a better ROI in comparison with other types of paid advertisements, especially PPC.

Cost – as mentioned earlier, organic SEO doesn’t charge you a dime if a potential customer clicks on your ad. However, any SEO strategy or service you might undertake can cost money, but it is usually much more efficient overall than having to pay for each click.

Sustainability – again, keep in mind that with organic SEO, getting traffic to your website takes a life on its own and it can happen for as long as you keep the website up, as opposed to PPC when if you stop funneling money into this strategy, you can say goodbye to new leads.

Improved click-through rate (CTR) – studies show that you are more likely to get clicks on a well-placed organic ad instead of a paid one.

More clicks overall – if you are using SEO in combination with PPC, you can maximize clicks and get a better return on investment. You’ll eventually have to test the waters and see which keywords work best, but SEO is an important marketing strategy which shouldn’t be overlooked.

Scope – instead of advertising every piece of content you might have on your website, it is better to simply have a strong organic traffic coming from SEO techniques. This is ideal as there are numerous queries and keywords which appear every day and it would be almost impossible to generate paid ads for each one of them.

Strategic advantage – once you have established yourself as an authority on a particular niche, you will enjoy steady organic traffic that is difficult to duplicate or beat by your competitors, whether through SEO or PPC. As long as you focus on good SEO practices, you can enjoy wonderful organic traffic and a sustainable interest towards your website.

SEO Disadvantages

Requires Patience and Effort

There isn’t all milk and honey with SEO because as with any other tool, it has its own disadvantages. For example, you need to develop strong patience and be willing to work consistently on your SEO strategy before you can see decent organic traffic coming to your website. Some business owners are not that patient and that’s why they usually go for PPC. However, all good things take time to develop, so why wouldn’t you have patience building organic traffic for your business website?

Another disadvantage of SEO is the simple fact that you might need to create quality content to support your website such as blogs, forums, etc. While some may not see this as a disadvantage, some people have a hard time putting a little energy into their website. Having a blog and posting regular articles will basically attract more organic traffic and increase your online visibility. If you don’t currently know how to optimize content for your website or how to write articles, you might need to outsource this task which in turn can cost more money.

Bottom line is that SEO works if it is used properly, it can offer a tremendous return on investment and it is more cost effective than paid advertisements. Now that you know the basics of using SEO as a marketing strategy, let’s take a look at PPC too.

PPC Advantages

Get Targeted Visibility Quickly

Although many people prefer SEO above PPC, there are a number of advantages you can reap if you choose this marketing tactic. Paying for ads can be beneficial if it is done correctly and here are some of its pros:

Position on the page – you probably already know that most people focus on the results returned on the first and second Google pages. If you use PPC, your ads will be placed at the very top of each page, so you actually get the best exposure possible. Although people might decide to ignore your ads, you will make sure that they have seen them which is the most important thing at the end of the day.

Improved ads – another advantage of PPC is that it gives you an opportunity to create personalized ads which contain bullet lists, locations, sitelinks and other valuable information.

Visual product ads – this type of ad basically shows potential customers a preview on what they’re about to click on if you’re selling a particular product. This will improve your click-through rate and this feature is not available for organic searches.

Brand visibility – with PPC, you make sure that your brand gets out there, even if you have just opened up your business. Competing with high names in a specific industry is not that hard any more thanks to paid advertisements.

Budget – although you have to pay for every click, you are in complete control over how much you can spend every day because you can set fixed limits that match your preferences and needs.

Targeting – paid ads also give you the opportunity to choose your audience which is more likely to buy a product or service from you, in comparison with organic traffic. You can actually select to display your ad to a certain group of people based on age, geography, location, gender, preferences, and more.

Speed – this is probably one of the most attractive advantages of PPC because it basically gives you the chance to create a campaign in just a few days and make it successful in a few weeks. If you want quick results, PPC is usually the best option.

Agile – getting your product or service out there quick also gives you the opportunity to test it and obtain relevant feedback, before continuing with a more complex advertising campaign. Obtaining this feedback as soon as possible is highly useful for certain businesses.

Marketing intelligence – you also have the opportunity to see what keywords are more profitable for your particular business by using special tools such as Google Analytics. This software tells you how much money certain keywords bring you, what is the conversion rate and other vital information. Armed with this research, you can then develop SEO campaigns that focus on your “jackpot” keywords.

A/B testing – just as mentioned earlier, you can create different types of call to action buttons, split ads and similar pages to see which one works better, before launching a major advertising project.

Stability – in comparison with organic traffic which can be influenced by various factors such as the ever-changing Google algorithms, the Google AdWords tool doesn’t pose you as many problems and any changes have a minimal impact over your marketing strategy.

Cost – it really depends on the size of your audience, what types of ads you run and the PPC campaign you have chosen, but if you target a small group of people in a particular region, you’ll find out that the costs of PPC aren’t that high.

PPC Disadvantages

Requires Constant Investment, Costly Investment Long Term

Although costs can be kept under control if you know what you are doing, in most cases, people tend to go over the budget when running PPC campaigns, especially if they target entire countries. Remember that you are actually paying money for every click which might or might not become a conversion. You are setting yourself at risk, but for some businesses, the aforementioned benefits outweigh the cons.

Another disadvantage of PPC can be the simple fact that once you stop paying, you won’t get any more potential customers. If your return of investment is good, it shouldn’t be a problem to keep running paid ads, but if you need to make budget cuts and it happens to reduce the PPC money allowance, your business will have much less exposure.

While running PPC ads, keep in mind that your competition might do the same. Google usually displays higher paid ads more often and to larger groups of people. If your competition happens to pay more money than you, they get more exposure, a thing which you might find inconvenient. It is not uncommon for businesses to engage in “bidding wars” and this can lead to huge running costs for such advertising campaigns.

You also need to be aware of the fact that if your competitors find out that a particular ad or message you run is extremely profitable, they might immediately try to duplicate it. This is not happening if you use SEO tactics as no one can actually copy this type of marketing strategy.

Lastly, running PPC ads is time-consuming, especially if you want to do it properly and keep costs under control. If you’re too busy, don’t care or simply don’t have much knowledge about this process, you might have to hire an expert which is an added expense to your business.

Choose SEO or PPC?

This is a good question, but unfortunately, the answer is different for each type of business. For example, if you have a local business looking for a couple of leads a week and your competition is virtually nonexistent, you can do just well with a few good SEO practices and you can become successful in a relatively short amount of time.

On the other hand, if your business type is quite common and your competitors are giants such as Amazon, you might need a little bit more than a few good SEO techniques. To make sure you progress quickly and steadily, a smart PPC campaign can be exactly what you need in this case. To help you find the best answer, ask yourself if you need leads right now or you don’t mind growing your business organically? Also, can you become an authority within your domain or you’d better be off paying for your ads?

Combining SEO and PPC

In an ideal world, a business should use both these strategies to come up with excellent results both in the short term and long term. You’ll be surprised to find out that combining SEO and PPC can bring results which far exceed the ones provided by them separately. Here are a few key advantages provided by this synergy:

  • Ability to test keywords in PPC before using them in more elaborate SEO tactics
  • The data you get from PPC can be used to create excellent SEO strategies
  • If you have high-cost keywords, you can move them into organic searches
  • Ability to target your potential clients at all stages and make them purchase using commercial keywords
  • Ensure the sustainability of your business even if you temporarily stop funding PPC
  • Make your online presence much more visible in a short period of time
  • Performing A/B testing and use the results to create profitable landing pages

At the end of the day, it is all about experimenting and trying various strategies and approaches to find out what works best for you. Although this might cost money and take time, it is crucial to learn how to manage your online business properly and make your website become profitable for years to come!

SEO vs. PPC: The Investment Statistics

We get this question asked often: “What is a better investment for my money?”

In a nutshell, both are beneficial and if done correctly, both can be a great return in investment (ROI). But many small businesses can’t always fit both strategies in their budget. If you have a bit of patience, we highly recommend SEO over PPC. Organic SEO is proven to be much more cost effective and beneficial for you long term. We did the hard research for you and combined some compelling statistics that prove why this is so.

Case Stat #1

For every 1 click on a paid search result, the organic results generate 8.5 clicks. But based on conversion tracking, PPC convert 1.5x the rate of organic clicks.

So from the numbers above, we can see that the opportunity from organic search is 5.66x that of paid search.

Now check out this data on ad spending:
2005 was 87% PPC vs. 11% Organic
2006 was 87% PPC vs. 12% Organic
2007 was 88% PPC vs. 10% Organic

In other words, spend on SEO is about 1/8th of PPC. So overall, the value you get from organic SEO far exceeds the investment on PPC.

Source: Moz. This data is from Enquisite, a web analytics company that focuses on search and track over 5000 sites.

Case Stat #2

Check out the image to the right. This shows that 64% of website visitors come from organic search overall. Paid search only accounts for 6%.

Source: Groupon published this study they did as they were curious how much organic traffic they actually got.

Case Stat #3

This next set of stats prove that SEO work is very important. With SEO work, you can gain visibility on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Why is this important? Because studies indicate that 71.33% of searches resulted in a page 1 Google organic click.

This statistic proves that people prefer to click on organic results as opposed to clicking on paid ads – and paid ads are on top! Paying for Google Ads is simply not enough.

Source: A very well known and trusted SEO blog here.

Recap of stats

Paying for PPC means you are paying for high cost ads that may provide instant gratification, but in the end provides zero long term investment and minimal CTR (click through rate) per dollar spent. This is perhaps the reason why many SEO professionals will tell you that SEO is the wiser investment, not just for long term.

What form of Internet Marketing do you prefer and what has worked best for you? Do you have questions? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Get in touch and let’s talk.

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