SEO vs. PPC: What’s the difference? Which should I invest in?

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Are they the Same?

No! Although SEO and PPC can work well together, they are both two very different digital marketing strategies. What’s the difference? Well, let’s look at each strategy separately.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, in short, is the process of improving your website with the goal of increasing website traffic from search engines, also known as “organic” traffic, to your site. This is accomplished through strategies such as keyword research, content optimization and technical optimization to just name a few.

What is PPC?

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, is an advertising model where you pay to have your website’s results on the top of search results. You pay for your ad whenever someone clicks on it and is directed to your site. The price of an ad is determined by how competitive the keyword is (e.g., how many other companies are trying to rank for it, as well).

So Which is Better?

Since they are both completely separate strategies, the next question is “Which one is better?” While the answer will be different depending on the company and promotional goals, let’s look at the pros and cons of both.

SEO Pros

Credibility: Many consumers are hesitant to click on sponsored or promoted ads that show up in search results and instead trust the non-paid ads that appear below them due to strong SEO strategies.

Price: While you will have to work with an SEO expert to properly optimize your site, you will not have to pay each time someone clicks on your website in search results.

Optimizing your best sales tool: Ideally your website should be your best sales tool. Optimizing that sales tool by investing in SEO will lead to an increase in traffic, and, in many cases, an increase in sales.

Sustainability: SEO is a very cost-effective way to still generate leads without breaking the bank.

SEO Cons

Time: This is one of the biggest differences between SEO and PPC. Unlike PPC, there is no switch that you can turn on to see instant results. The process of optimizing a site takes time, and it takes search engines time to move that site up in the rankings. While PPC offers instant gratification, SEO is much more of a long game.

Targeting: Thorough keyword research will help you focus your SEO efforts on the terms your prospective buyers search. However, that’s as granular as the targeting gets when it comes to SEO. There is no exact way to target your SEO work towards a specific demographic.

PPC Pros

Pay per click, internet marketing. Flat line art style concept. cartoon depiction of computer with coins overlaying itTargeting: PPC campaigns allow you to target your ads to specific locations, demographics and keywords to ensure your ad dollars go to your exact target market.

Time/Flexibility: Unlike SEO, PPC can be turned on at the flip of a switch and your ads will start running. In addition, PPC is very flexible. You can adjust your budget or how long you want ads to run, depending on your goals.

Rankings: This may seem obvious, but PPC ads appear on the top of search engine results, so they are always the first thing a consumer sees.

Measurable: With all the data provided in a PPC campaign, you can measure exactly how well, or poor, your ads are performing and adjust accordingly. You’re able to see how many people have viewed your ad, how many have clicked on it, how much those clicks cost and how many of those clicks turned into leads. This makes it very easy to determine the ROI of a PPC campaign.

PPC Cons

Sustainability: Unlike SEO, once you turn off a PPC campaign, all the traffic that campaign was generating is gone. So, while it may be worth the money, you will always have to pay to have your ads running and keep the traffic flowing.

Maintenance: While a well maintained PPC campaign can be cost effective and an overall rockstar for your marketing strategy, a poorly run PPC campaign is equivalent to throwing money away. You must closely track your PPC results to ensure your ad spend is being put to good use.

So, which is right for me?

It really depends, and a successful digital marketing strategy can include both.

PPC is great for a company that is looking to rank for competitive keywords that would be difficult to rank for organically. Also, if a company needs quick results (around a product launch, for example) and doesn’t have time for organic SEO to work its magic, PPC is the perfect choice.

PPC may be right for some sites, but not worth the money for others. And, an ongoing SEO effort is an essential part of a sophisticated digital marketing strategy. A strategic and well executed SEO program will help a company boost brand awareness and sustain that increased brand awareness over time.

Still Unsure?

Deciding what marketing strategies are right for your business can be a daunting task. Which is why the experts at The Agency at Sikich can help find the right digital marketing plan for you. Contact us today!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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