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April 8, 2020

SEO or PPC: Which is Better For Your Business? [2021]

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Search marketing is a proven way to grow your business, but it can be tricky to find the right approach. Read on to discover is SEO or PPC is the best strategy for you.

Here’s the situation:

You’ve got an incredible business. But getting your products or services in front of the right customers is challenging to say the least.

And no matter how great you are, if your customers can’t find you, growing your business is going to be harder than it needs to be.

While there are many digital strategies that can solve this dilemma, it often boils down to one of two choices: SEO or PPC?

Both approaches are proven to deliver results. But as a savvy entrepreneur, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to your digital marketing.

So that raises the question: which option makes the most sense and which should you focus your efforts on first?

Let’s jump in and discover the answers. By the end, you’ll know how to get the best possible ROI for your business with search marketing.. 

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising your website and pages to rank organically in search engines such as Google and Bing.

The ringer with SEO is that you can’t pay to appear here (at least not directly anyway).

Search engines use algorithms to determine the quality and relevance of your website and then rank you in their listings accordingly when a user inputs a search query.

So, the key to SEO  is finding out what search engines are looking for and then developing your website appropriately. Here’s what an organic search result looks like:

What Are The Advantages of SEO?

Let’s examine what SEO has to offer:

SEO is Cost-Effective

Arguably the biggest reason many business owners opt for SEO over PPC is that it works out cheaper over the long-term.

You’ll almost always pay more for your traffic with PPC than with SEO, especially if you’re hiring somebody in-house to create and manage your campaigns. 

Unlike PPC, SEO doesn’t have continuous click charges – once you’ve built a steady stream of organic traffic your clicks are essentially free. Your SEO ROI accumulates over time as your website gains authority and visibility.

Just look at the average CPC for some industries to give you an idea of how quickly the costs can add up:

Source: Wordstream

SEO is Long-Lasting

As long as you’re doing a good job ranking for your target keywords, SEO allows you to generate consistent traffic for your website.

Source: Semrush

A properly optimised site has staying power and can hold its position in the search rankings for months (or even years) after a PPC campaign has been switched off.

What’s more, with SEO your search engine position and traffic is fairly stable. But with PPC your site visitors and visibility can wildly fluctuate if your competitors change their bidding tactics

That’s why many marketers see SEO as the most viable long-term solution for scalable business growth.

What Are The Drawbacks of SEO?

Despite those benefits, SEO isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Here’s what to be aware of before you dive in:

SEO Can Be Painfully Slow

If patience isn’t your strong suit, you might find it difficult to be successful with SEO. It’s simply not a strategy that delivers results overnight.

To illustrate, Ahrefs conducted a study to figure out just how long SEO takes and found that just 5.7% of all newly published pages get to the first page of Google within a year.

Source: Ahrefs

While it’s impossible to give a definitive time-frame on how long it’ll take you to start capturing organic search traffic, one thing is for certain: you’ve got to be in it for the long-haul.

SEO Requires Ongoing Commitment 

Although SEO provides more predictable traffic than PPC, your site will never reach a state of 100% optimisation.

Sure, the more work you put in, the better your future rankings will be, but you’ll also have to continuously navigate your website through various algorithm changes.

And there’s a lot of them – In 2018 Google reported that they had updated their algorithm more than 3,200 times! These changes impact websites so much that 40% of marketers say algorithm updates are the biggest challenges to SEO.

So if you don’t stay on top of the latest SEO practices, your traffic can take a serious dive. Since keeping up to date demands a lot of time and expertise – it’s a process that’s usually worth outsourcing if your budget allows.

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model whereby you pay a platform (such as Google) for clicks to your website.

PPC advertising only charges you when somebody clicks on your listing – this means that you’ll only attract people who are interested in your business.

With PPC, the higher the competition for a given keyword or phrase (e.g. ‘Car Rental Melbourne’), the more you’ll have to pay to bring traffic to your website.

What Are The Advantages of PPC?

PPC offers some potent benefits to you as a business owner, let’s discover them:

PPC Can Deliver Rapid Results

Easily the most attractive aspect of PPC ads is the huge upsurge in traffic you can see right from the get go. Unlike SEO, you don’t have to wait for weeks or months to start reaping the rewards of your labour.

PPC ads can be especially helpful if you’re a business starting with little brand equity. In fact, just a few campaigns can be enough to boost your visibility by up to 80% – enough exposure to start driving traffic and get your revenue flowing straight away.

PPC Ads Deliver Highly Targeted Traffic

All PPC platforms (Google, Bing, Twitter etc) let you target very specific customer audiences. You can narrow down your audience by various demographics (age, gender, location etc) 

And by focusing on the exact type of people who’re looking for your service, most of your clicks will come from qualified leads with high-purchase intent. 

Source: Moz

That’s good news because high-quality traffic means better conversions. In fact, research shows that paid search traffic is up to 1.5x more likely to convert than organic SEO traffic.

What Are The Drawbacks of PPC?

While it’s easy to be seduced by PPC’s promise of rapid results, it’s not without its own drawbacks. Here’s how PPC advertising can become a pain.

PPC Ads Can Get Expensive

If you’re in a competitive industry, your PPC ad bill could be the stuff of nightmares.

Source: Wordstream

As you can see, if you’re in the business services industry you’ll pay almost $60 per click to target the most relevant keyword. So, it goes without saying that you need a hefty budget to make that work.

That’s why if you’re a start-up or on a shoestring budget, PPC ads mightn’t be a viable option. Often times, you’ll need a significant budget to burn for the first few weeks of experimentation before you’ll ever see a return on your investment.

For example, when Dropbox was starting out they decided to give Google ads a whirl. After a few weeks, they realised that their CPA from the ads was between $230-$390 while revenue generated from each sale came to $99. Ouch.

PPC Advertising Has a Steep Learning Curve

We all want fast and easy solutions to our problems – and at a glance, PPC tends to look like it’s the traffic-generating panacea we’ve been searching for.

But you can’t just throw together some ads and instantly get sky-high volumes of targeted traffic. Learning how to run basic ads takes time. And creating successful campaigns with a low cost per click and a high click-through rate take even longer.

Between researching keywords, managing budgets, crafting ads and measuring returns, undertaking PPC advertising can take up a considerable amount of your time – and cost you a pretty penny too.

Is SEO or PPC Better For Your Business?

Source: Quora 

So, which approach is best? The truth is it depends on your industry, budget and how each strategy fits in with your larger marketing goals. In an ideal world, you’d combine a well-structured PPC campaign with smart a smart SEO strategy for best results.

But sadly we don’t live in an ideal world so here are some scenarios when you should definitely focus the bulk of your time and effort on SEO:

  • If you’re in a competitive industry & have a low advertising budget
  • If you’re looking for long-term sustainable growth
  • If you don’t need results within the next few weeks
  • If you’re looking of the most cost-effective way to grow your business

And here are some scenarios when you should focus most of your resources on PPC:

  • If you have a sizeable budget & need rapid results
  • If you’re promoting a time-sensitive offer
  • If you’re gearing up for a product launch
  • If you need to bring in highly targeted traffic

Get in Touch With The SEO & PPC Experts

As a business owner, working out the details of your search marketing strategy can be stressful. 

And since no two businesses are identical, it’s often a real challenge to work out the exact combinations of SEO and PPC tactics to grow your business.

So, why not get in touch with our digital marketing specialists and use their expertise to create a search marketing plan that gets you the results you’re looking for?

At TocToc we take care of your marketing so you can focus on what you do best: business.

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