A frequently asked question that companies with websites often pose is: “Should I invest in SEO or PPC?” or “Which is better?” There exists a plethora of information online about both Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns as well as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques; however, it can be difficult to select which strategy to invest in if you don’t know a lot about what each entails. Nevertheless, it is crucial to determine which strategy best fits your business, since both can greatly impact your overall Return on Investment (ROI) and affect your company’s budget. Naturally, you want to spend the least amount of money possible in order to maximize the results, or ROI. You may even find that a combination of both SEO and PPC techniques should be implemented for your business, but that of course depends on your company’s budget and marketing strategy. The truth is, each approach has its benefits and weaknesses, and therefore both strategies should be taken into consideration when deciding which to invest in. This article will aim to outline both the pros and cons of each approach for your business’ website, which will subsequently give you the insight necessary to hopefully assist you in making an educated decision when it comes to investing in PPC and/or SEO strategies.
When done properly, SEO techniques have the potential to be highly successful, which can result in a greater conversion rate for your company’s website at a very little financial cost to you. Some of the benefits of SEO are as follows:
- SEO provides organic, or natural, traffic to your website through the implementation of on-page and off-page optimization techniques. While there is definitely a learning curve to SEO, which subsequently means a larger time investment (when compared to PPC strategies), it is virtually “free” and therefore only really costs you time and not necessarily a lot of money. It is in this way that over time, search engines are able to properly index your site and send you relevant traffic. If you do not have the necessary time to invest in implementing good SEO techniques, you may want to consider hiring a firm that specializes in SEO in order to get your company the best results.
- ROI from SEO techniques is insurmountable, since your financial investment is little to none (if you do it yourself, that is) and your potential financial return is infinite. Remember, with SEO you get out of it what you put into it. Therefore investing the required time it takes to learn the proper SEO techniques can greatly increase your company’s revenue. Again, hiring a professional firm with SEO expertise may be a good avenue for your company – particularly if you have the financial means to do so and cannot afford the time it takes to learn proper SEO techniques yourself.
- Eventually, by employing proper SEO strategies to your company’s website, you will begin to notice a great improvement in your site’s rankings on the search engines. While PPC campaigns are also able to do this for you (in a matter of weeks or even days) by having you pay out of pocket to get on page one of the SERPs, the same results can be obtained using SEO techniques – it just takes longer.
- Additionally, by implementing both on-page and off-page optimization techniques, SEO has the potential to create a web-wide online presence. Through the optimization of keywords, the utilization of alt tags on your images, and social bookmarking (to name just a few), your website will be both user-friendly and easily indexed by the search engines.
SEO techniques also have their drawbacks. Some of them are as follows:
- SEO takes time. Whether you do it yourself, or hire a professional SEO firm, it can take anywhere between one month to three months, or even longer, for noticeable gains. However, the more time that is invested into optimizing your website correctly (both on-page and off-page), the more valuable and continuous your results will be. If your business can afford the time lapse, then SEO is a great way to go about building your online business.
- Many people do not know how to implement SEO techniques correctly, and bad SEO can really hurt a website and damage your online business. If you’re going to take the SEO route, be sure to educate yourself on both off-page and on-page optimization techniques and avoid common SEO mistakes. If you do not feel as though you can spare the time it takes to learn how to implement good SEO techniques, you should seriously consider hiring a SEO firm to do this for you.
- Unlike PPC, SEO strategies only allow you to optimize for a select few keywords or key phrases. With PPC, you are virtually unlimited as to the amount of keywords you can purchase. But with SEO, you have to do the legwork and research in order to figure out which keywords are going to get you the best results and the most relevant website traffic.
- Once again, SEO is very labor-intensive and requires a great deal of pro-activity from the business if you’re going to do it yourself. It takes a lot of work and time to learn how to use SEO techniques correctly. If your company does not have the budget to work extra hard in the short-term in order to see long-term results, then perhaps SEO is not the route for your business (at least not initially). However, if you can afford it, hiring a firm that specializes in SEO techniques is a great way to increase your organic search results and boost your overall traffic.
Now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of PPC:
There are several advantages for your business if you choose to implement PPC techniques to your company’s website. They are as follows:
- With PPC, you are able to select as many keywords or key phrases as you want. There is no real “research” required (as there would be with SEO techniques); though researching your keywords is generally advised so you are not wasting time and money.
- You can continually optimize your keywords based on their performance. For example, if you’re looking to further optimize your advertising campaign or bidding strategy, you can use a popular tool called Google AdWords and get an overview of the conversion metrics for each keyword you are targeting. From there, you can get rid of the keywords that aren’t making you any money, and instead optimize for the ones that are getting you the most conversions. Overall, this means less of an upfront investment risk.
- In comparison to SEO, PPC can get your company’s website results immediately – usually within days (but of course at a financial cost to your company). Therefore, PPC is great for a company that wants short-term results. If you prefer instant (versus delayed) gratification, PPC might be the best choice for your company initially.
- PPC can provide your company with better overall search engine rankings if done correctly. In other words, if you are optimizing for the right keywords, targeting your relevant audience, and getting a high Click-Through Rate (CTR), search engines will subsequently rank you higher.
- The cost of learning is a major factor, especially when comparing the effectiveness of PPC vs. SEO. While both have the potential to generate results for your online business, PPC generally takes less time to learn to do correctly, whereas SEO can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming. PPC has less of a barrier to entry and is generally easier to learn than SEO, and therefore time is something that should be taken into consideration when choosing a marketing strategy for your business.
There are also some limitations when it comes to using PPC strategies for your business. They are as follows:
- PPC is a very quick and easy way to lose money if it is not done correctly. Therefore, it is advisable to research your keywords and make sure they are relevant to your target audience. Otherwise, it is like throwing money down the drain.
- PPC publishers do not have any incentive to ensure that the keywords you’re targeting are specific enough to increase your conversion rate. Remember, they get paid as soon as a user clicks on your ad, and their income is not based on whether or not the user stays on your website and makes a purchase. Their only concern is the click-through rate (CTR), since that is how their income is generated.
- PPC requires constant upkeep. In order to continue generating revenue for your company using PPC, you have to keep investing money in the PPC campaign. The minute you stop funding the operation, your results also stop.
PPC techniques usually rely on keyword tools, such as Google AdWords. Remember, everyone has access to these tools, so if you’re looking to gain a competitive edge, PPC may not be right for your company.
As A Business Owner, How Do You Decide?
As you can see, both SEO and PPC strategies have their strengths and weaknesses. While ultimately the decision of which strategy to invest in (SEO vs. PPC) is up to you as a business owner, hopefully now that you’ve read about each, you can make an informed, educated decision. In all honesty, if your company can afford to do so, you should probably implement both PPC and SEO strategies to maximize your website’s overall effectiveness. For instance, PPC gets users from direct advertising techniques, and SEO gets users from organic search engine results. When utilized in combination, these strategies can be powerful online marketing tools for your business. PPC campaigns take much less time and effort in order to generate results, but this comes at a financial cost to your business. SEO techniques can have a large time lapse before you begin to notice results, but if implemented correctly; your fully-optimized website will continually generate its own organic traffic with little to no financial cost to your business. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and research, your company’s budget, and your online marketing strategy. However, both PPC and SEO techniques, when used correctly, can have a great impact on your business’ overall online success. Contact Innate Media Group to help your business decide which strategy is best for you.