Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) have been pitched against each other since their inception in digital marketing.
They both have their uses, and are brilliant tools in a content creator’s arsenal, but, ultimately, a decision needs to be made.
Which is better?
What is PPC?
PPC is a format of advertising where firms pay for every individual click on their adverts. As a result, they get to avoid “wasting” money on buying media spaces that won’t generate results. With PPC, advertisers are confident that they only pay when interested parties click through to a website - giving them the chance to turn a lead into a sale.
To be successful, Pay Per Click advertising must be:
Optimised to rank well using keywords.
Directed toward the right audience,
In the right place at the right time.
Attention-captivating and relevant to maximise engagement
Media buyers can also help their PPC campaigns thrive by ensuring prospective customers are linked to an easy-to-navigate and fast loading website, significantly reducing bounce rates. Every step of the sales funnel should be optimised to increase the chance of purchase.
Pay Per Click advertising has become a favourite for digital marketers due to its cost-effectiveness. It has high targeting and segmenting capabilities that allow businesses to reach high-intent customers who are actively searching for a product or service. By reaching out to them in the research stage of the buyer’s journey, businesses will only spend money on their target audience.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is “a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results.” (Source: Moz).
Digital marketers may find themselves rewriting copy, building backlinks and writing content based on key search phrases - all to increase a brand’s visibility on search engines like Google.
These strategies are combined with thorough research and in-depth understanding of:
Up-to-date SEO best practices, as they change daily.
Google’s Algorithm, which is also regularly updated.
Relevant keywords and phrases that their audience is searching for.
Customer purchasing behaviour.
Content ideas and execution tactics (such as cross-posting).
Marketing experts like Neil Patel have become famous for their ability to optimise their blogs and articles and organically claim top results. He now owns an internationally successful marketing agency that has thrived off his content efforts.
SEO has an average ROI of 275% (Source: Demand Jump), making it an appealing undertaking for thousands of marketers across the world. SEO can thrive in tandem with other marketing strategies or can be implemented entirely on its own.
With SEO, there are no hidden costs - if you can commit to writing the content yourself, search engine optimization can be a cheap yet effective way to boost brand awareness.
The Similarities Between PPC vs SEO
One of the complications arising in conversations about PPC vs SEO is the similarities they share - especially when it comes to Google.
Brand Visibility: SEO focuses on organically improving a brand’s search engine ranking, while PPC bids to claim the top spot.
Shared Platforms: Content generated by SEO can be shared across platforms to boost traffic, and PPC advertisements are found across social media, shopping sites, display ads and more.
Flexibility: Both PPC and SEO are incredibly versatile investments that complement other marketing channels, such as a strong content strategy.
Powerful Targeting: Marketers can easily target PPC and SEO towards their target audiences, using keywords, long-tail phrases, and optimising for popular search categories.
Revenue Increases: When done correctly, both can have an impact on a firm’s sales.
The biggest similarity, however, lies in the work that a digital team does to prepare either a PPC advert or an SEO optimised web page or article.
They require A/B testing, a deep understanding of search engine algorithms, and fine-tweaking of various copy and title elements to best appeal to high-intent customers.
The Differences Between PPC vs SEO
With these similarities in mind, therefore, it can be hard to decide whether PPC or SEO is a better approach for a marketer wanting to increase their company's traffic.
SEO has been dubbed as a relatively low-cost solution to growing the bottom line of your brand. Its focus on building a foundation of trust between a company and its audience allows marketers to maximise their future marketing efforts and develop high traffic sustainability for the long term.
PPC, however, is Google’s “instant solution” to boosting your sales. With an average ROI of £2 for every £1 spent, it can help businesses needing a rapid solution to covering costs. As soon as you stop spending, your advantage is lost. PPC often needs to be backed up with a strong email collection strategy to generate future leads.
Therefore, the decision on which is best for a business depends on its goals for growth.
Ultimately the answer would depend on what you’re looking to achieve, whether it's a short term boost or longer term growth. PPC usually does a lot around quicker wins or last click attribution whereas SEO is a longer game, but shows you’re a more trusted website / brand in Googles eyes. Overall, though it would be best practice to have both strong PPC and SEO working in tangent together to maximise your chances of success.
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