We all look upon one search engine when it comes to finding answers on the World Wide Web – of course, if you are not one of the 19% of people who use Bing or Yahoo.
Google, is the unrivaled leader in the search engines, and as it goes – it is not easy to gain its attention when it comes to search engine marketing. As a matter of fact, Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day. This means that more than 40,000 Google searches happen every second!
These figures are enough to gauge as to how difficult it is to make a search engine like Google to notice your business and rank it better than your competitors.
But: the task is not as difficult as it seems to be, obviously, if you play your cards right.
There are two ways through which you can market your business on Google: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click).
So which technique should your business employ? And what is the basic difference between SEO and PPC? We will find answers to these questions and more in this article. Let’s get started.
What is SEO?
Before we understand what SEO is, let’s consider an example.
Let’s go back to our school days. There used to be two kinds of students – students who love sitting in the front, and the backbenchers. Now the students sitting in the front bench were able to reap various benefits. They would get immediate attention of the teacher, the teacher would know them well, and so on.
This is what an SEO is. Consider Google as your class teacher, and the websites as students. Similar to students, your website must occupy the top position in the search engine results pages. And similar to teacher, Google will provide you with all the attention, and this will boost your traffic.
SEO also known as search engine optimization, is a process in which you optimize your website for the search engine. It makes use of a bunch of techniques to rank your website on the first page of the major search engines. This method of generating traffic is also known as natural or organic lead generation.
In simple words, SEO works by optimizing your web pages to make a search engine aware of their usefulness and the value that they add to the web.
Here is how organic and search engine optimized results look on Google:
Here is how Neil Patel, an online marketing guru, explains what SEO is:
In simple words, SEO comes down to having a website that clearly explains what it is all about and consists of content that is useful both for Google bots and human visitors.
Essentially, SEO focuses on a range of parameters – the mobile responsiveness of the website, clean coding, and search engine friendliness of the content, high-quality inbound links, and reputed link authority.
The question that arises is – when should you prefer using SEO? Let’s understand this better.
- When you need consistent results
Although SEO might take time to provide visible results, the results delivered by SEO last longer. Yes, it might take time to rank your website on the first page or even the first result of the search engine result pages, but once you are there, you will be able to maintain it for long.
You just need to keep your SEO campaign active. This will help you in sustaining the results provided by SEO.
- When you want to build an authority website
An authority website is a reliable knowledge base for a particular niche that covers all the ins and outs of a certain subject. Thus, once you are well-established and have built a reputation for yourself, it is likely that your authority website will keep on attracting high-quality traffic.
The best way to move ahead with this is to employ SEO techniques to establish your credibility in the market.
- When you want to increase the value of your website organically
Websites are nothing less than virtual real estate now. If you plan to sell your website in the near future for a premium price, it makes sense to increase its value by attracting an appreciable amount of traffic, boosting its page rank, and enhancing its link popularity. You can achieve all of these objectives with SEO.
Advantages of SEO
One of the best parts of SEO is that it helps you drive organic traffic and boosts your ranking on search engine results pages naturally. The results provided by SEO are long-lasting when compared to PPC campaigns which last for as long as your campaigns are active.
- Stable positioning in SERPs
Until and unless there is a huge change in Google algorithms, it is safe to assume that the positioning of your website will stay stable. This is in contrast to PPC ad positions which keep on changing based on the bid in your industry.
- Slow results
When compared to PPC, SEO is slow. It might take months to reflect the results, which could be disappointing and demotivating at first.
- Ongoing process
SEO is a journey rather than a destination. You will need to keep optimizing your website on a continuous basis. Google’s algorithms will keep on changing, and there will always be a need for SEO. But the good news is that once you start working in this direction, the ranking of your website will continue getting better.
What is PPC?
If you are in a hurry to rank your website on the top of the search engine result pages for certain keywords and want to attract traffic immediately, you must make use of PPC.
Consider a simple scenario. Let’s assume that you opened your own café. Now there are two ways you can advertise your business. Either you can list your business in a directory book which contain details of all the businesses in your area, or you can choose to distribute pamphlets to catch all the attention.
This is what PPC is. Here, you don’t limit yourself to the search engine result pages, but drive all the attention towards your business by paid advertising.
PPC, also known as pay-per-click, is a paid approach to attract search engine traffic on target keywords. In this technique, you need to set your budget regarding how much you want to spend and start advertising your website.
This is how PPC ads look on Google:
Here is how Neil explains it:
Whether you should invest in PPC or not depends on various factors including:
- When you need immediate results
When compared to SEO, PPC will deliver the result fast! The leads will start pouring in and you will experience a sudden flow of traffic just within a few hours of your ad getting approved.
This is one aspect where PPC outperforms SEO. If yours is an ecommerce website, or you are involved in CPA marketing, affiliate marketing, event-based marketing and the like, PPC is the right way to go.
- When you need highly targeted traffic
One of the beauties of PPC is that it allows you to target your audiences very precisely based on their demographic data. You can target people based on their age, gender, marital status, income bracket, and other similar factors.
Further, various social media sites like Facebook even allow you to target audiences based on their interest, employment, and other options. The result – you get highly precise leads which are perfectly in line with your target market.
- When you are promoting a time-sensitive offer
Do you have an event next week in your company? Are you offering flat 50% off on all the apparels in your store? Whatever the reason is, if you are having a time-sensitive offer in hand, it is highly recommended to use PPC.
This is because SEO campaigns often take time to deliver results which could be well past the event date. On the other hand, PPC provides you with immediate results.
- When you want to dominate search results for your keyword category quickly
One of the best parts of running a PPC campaign is the fact that PPC results get to enjoy the top position in the organic search results. More often than not, this means that the top three paid positions in the search engine results pages will enjoy around 50% of the traffic.
If you are not investing in PPC, this would mean that you are putting your competitors in an easy spot and they can garner all the attention through their PPC ads.
- Immediate results
Once you kick off your PPC campaign, you will be able to see immediate results in the form of improved traffic, and conversions. SEO could take months to provide this level of traction that PPC provides within a few hours.
- Scalable and controllable
PPC allows you to set your budget and provides you with a fair idea as to how many leads you will be getting. However, this is not the case with SEO. Here, you are not sure of the output that it will deliver.
Further, PPC also allows you to target your audiences closely which is a tough task to achieve with SEO.
- Not influenced by search engine’s algorithm
Since PPC is a paid advertising campaign, it remains uninfluenced by the search engine’s algorithm and its impacts. You need to bid for the top spots, and the organic rank of your website is not very important.
However, SEO is tough. Here, you need to be on top of the latest updates of search engine algorithms, and also need to practice ethical tactics to prevent yourself from any penalties and setbacks.
PPC ad campaigns are expensive. You need to fuel your campaign with enough money daily. Ideally, the more you invest, the better are the results, as more data will allow for faster campaign optimizations. What’s more, as the competition is on a steady rise, it is likely that you will be paying more later for the same results that you are getting today.
- One time on and off
The results provided by PPC are not long-lasting. The traffic and leads will keep pouring for only as much time as your campaign is live. Once it stops, the leads will stop coming your way too.
In an event when you need to divert your PPC budget to other important expenses in your company, and if you don’t have any backup plan to fuel your PPC campaign, your advertising strategy could take a back seat.
- Click fraud
Although various steps have been taken to prevent click frauds, in which competitors use manual clicks or bots that stimulate human clicks from varied IP addresses to damage your PPC campaign. -This practice is still prevalent today, and can your cost-per-click drastically, which can ruin your entire budget.
Factors Which Determine the Right Choice
Undoubtedly, both SEO and PPC play an integral role in defining your search engine marketing strategy, but at times, you need to choose between them.
Here are a few parameters which could help:
- Website advertising budget
The choice between SEO and PPC is dependent on the kind of advertising budget that you can support. Although you can start a PPC campaign with an as low budget as you will like, we will highly recommend you to start with at least $5 a day.
However, if you are on a shoestring budget, it will be the right step to start with free SEO methods, and once you have enough capital, include PPC advertising in your marketing strategy.
- Average CPCs in the industry
Although allocating a budget to your advertising campaign is important, it is equally necessary to have a look at what is the common expenditure for running an ad in your industry.
Typically, PPC platforms allow you to bid based on the single keyword click, which is also known as CPC, cost per click. There are various tools that you can use to determine the average CPCs in the industry. Traffic Estimator is one tool which estimates that CPC for a keyword phrase, “car insurance online” is $2.76, but these CPCs could be as high as $28.55, for example, the keyword phrase “auto insurance”.
High prices like these make it tough to invest in PPC, and pay per click advertising should not be pursued in such instances, unless budget and ROI are aligned. SEO will prove to be a better choice.
- SERPs competitiveness
Before proceeding with SEO or PPC, it is highly recommended to have a look at the search engine results pages for your targeted keywords and check how competitive the whole scenario is.
This is a fairly simple exercise and should be conducted before you arrive at any decision. You need to enter your keywords into the Google External Keyword Research Tool and estimate your competition level as well as the average cost of bidding along with the average CPCs.
If the competition is tough, you will find that result pages for your target audiences are dominated by authority websites and it is almost impossible to beat them without investing significant time and money. In cases like this, PPC campaigns could prove to be a better choice as they will divert instant traffic to your website.
Here is what Neil has to say:
Not SEO or PPC but SEO and PPC
So the million-dollar question is –Should you choose to go for SEO or PPC? This is a tricky question to answer. There is no straightforward YES or NO in this case. It all sums down to your industry and budget.
Undoubtedly, both SEO and PPC techniques are highly capable of providing the best traffic and leads for your business. While SEO will take time to reflect, PPC can provide visible results.
If you are in a hurry and want immediate results and do not have any budget constraints, PPC is the way to go. However, if you want organic results, and want to establish your domain authority for long, SEO is the right fit for you.
But we will highly recommend you to run both SEO and PPC campaigns parallelly. They both are great strategies and provide wonderful yields. There is no reason why you should choose one over the other. Since SEO takes time to provide visible results, you can employ the PPC campaign along with the SEO. And once the organic ranking of your website starts getting better – you can decide if you want to keep the PPC campaigns active or withdraw them gradually.
However, this is not valid for all businesses. Every business is different and needs to be dealt with accordingly. This is why the expert SEO and PPC team of Rainfall Digital is here to help you out. We will figure out the best combination for you and will devise a strategy that works in line with your industry and budget at the same time.
In the end, we will highly recommend you to analyze your goals and do not hesitate to experiment. Do you have any questions? Want us to help you reach the TOP? Contact us today!