One of the questions often asked by people wanting to invest in digital marketing is this:

Which is better for my website, PPC or SEO?

That’s a pretty great question, and an important one to think about before investing in internet marketing! You may think you already know which one you need, but doing some more research is never a bad thing. So, kudos on being here, reading this article!

Before we go over how to make that decision, let’s look at what exactly SEO and PPC are, and what they involve.

SEO: A No-Fluff Look at the Basics

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, at its core, a set of tactics that are used to bring your website up further in search engine rankings. These tactics include:

  • Performing keyword research to uncover ranking possibilities
  • Working with your on-page content to integrate more keywords
  • Updating the speed and structure of your site to make it as fast and as search-engine-friendly as possible
  • Adding more content that aligns with your keywords and topics
  • Building more high-quality links to your site to tell search engines your site is trustworthy

Investing in SEO is a great way to ensure a strong future for your site and your marketing. While it takes some time to see results from an SEO campaign, it can make the difference between a low number of leads and a large number a couple months down the road.

PPC: A Quick Look at the Possibilities

When you hear “Pay-Per-Click”, you probably think about the ads on the top of Google listings. That’s the classic pay-per-click spot in Google’s search results. These ads have come a very long way over the past several years, and now include bells and whistles like clickable phone number buttons, extra links, addresses, and more.

There are other PPC ad choices that you should also know about. In addition to the traditional ads you see in Google, there are several other ad choices. If you’re a home services provider, for instance, there are special ads just for you called Local Services ads. Another option would be display ads, which can be set up to appear on a whole network of websites, rather than just in Google search results. So, your ads can appear on sites that are relevant to your industry, and you can use imagery and more exciting ads.

Running PPC gives you the ability to see results as soon as you start funding your ads. It’s also very scalable – need more leads? Spend more on your ads so that you get more clicks. What you put in is what you get out (as long as your campaign is managed well by a PPC expert).

Here’s how to decide on SEO vs. PPC, or both.

This is still a tricky question, even with all the knowledge in the world about these two types of web marketing. Here are some steps you can take to identify what might be best for your campaign in this moment.

Step One: Identify Your Primary Campaign Goal

This sounds simple, but I want you to take some time and hone in on an ultra-focused goal. The more focused you can get, the better. Here are some great steps to take to focus your goal:

  1. What do I want from a marketing campaign? Make a list of items.
  2. Which items on the list do I need before I can achieve some of the others? Narrow down to 2 or 3 of the most important items.
  3. Do you see any commonalities between the remaining items? Can you categorize them as brand awareness, more leads, more website visits, more sales, or something similar?
  4. From what you’ve distilled, grab your one or two primary goals.
  5. Add numbers, if you can. For example, do you need sales to increase by a certain percentage? Do you have a set number of bookings you’d like to schedule per month?

Step Two: Identify Your Time Frame

This one’s pretty straight-forward: Take your campaign goal and decide on a time frame. Is this a quarterly goal? Or perhaps you’re just launching something new and you need results ASAP? Maybe it’s something you’re just hoping to achieve within a year? Be specific.

Step Three: Compare the Benefits of PPC vs. SEO

SEO vs. PPC: Which one is right for your website?

To recap the above infographic, the main differences between PPC and SEO are the amount of time it takes to see results and the longevity of those results. A PPC campaign will give you instant results, whereas SEO will take at least a couple months to start sending an increased number of visitors to your website. However, work put into SEO will keep benefiting your site after the work has been completed, whereas PPC benefits will stop as soon as you stop paying for the ads.

Step Four: Put Together a Strategy That Fits Your Goals

As you can see in the infographic above, the timing of your goal is going to be a major consideration in doing a PPC or SEO campaign. If you need immediate results, Pay-Per-Click advertising is a great way to get there. However, an SEO campaign can be less expensive in the long run, and bring in leads naturally, so you won’t be up a creek if you stop your ads.

For many campaigns, running both PPC and SEO at the same time is a great solution. You kick-start your campaign by paying for clicks while working in the background to increase your organic visits down the road. As your organic visits increase, you can decrease your ad spend.

A Master Plan of Attack: How to Run Both PPC & SEO at the Same Time

If you have the funds to do so, I’d recommend running a PPC campaign (even if it’s just a small one) to test those waters and drive some clicks and leads while you’re beginning your SEO campaign. SEO campaigns may begin slowly, but they have the propensity to take off after several months of quality work. PPC campaigns, on the other hand, can take off now, giving you increased leads or sales while you work on your SEO.

Depending on your budget, your target audience, and the competitiveness of your industry, you can put together a combination of SEO and PPC services that’ll work for you now and later. Just dial down your PPC ad spend as you start seeing the results from SEO – unless it’s going so well you just want to keep both going!

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