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  • Writer's pictureCubeSquared Digital

SEO vs. PPC : Which Should You Choose?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is (or should be) an important part of any marketing strategy of any business with an online presence.


Making sure your website is optimised so that our search engine overlords offer it in results to those searching for what you do, or looking to buy what you sell, is crucial to your success.


The age-old struggles to drive traffic to your website comes in two flavours; SEO and PPC, or Pay-Per-Click.


SEO in its truest form is generally considered to be entirely organic. It occurs by you (or someone you've hired) carefully crafting your website, optimising your pages and understanding what might bring visitors to your site.


Once they understand that, you'll then implement an ongoing plan to bring more people to you by ranking highly in search results delivered via Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo.


PPC, on the other hand, is a financial model that means you pay the search engines (or social media platforms) to place adverts in prominent places like search results or social timelines to encourage visitors to come to your website.


This helps you reach groups who may otherwise not see your site. It gets its name from the fact that you only pay when someone clicks on your advert.


So they do the same thing (kind of) and share the same outcome, so what makes them different?


As an agency that offers organic SEO services, we wanted to delve a little deeper and help you understand the differences between the two, other than the obvious ones we've just mentioned.


We're going to look at what the advantages of SEO might be to you and why it may be better for your business. Let's dive in!


THE BENEFITS OF ORGANIC SEO

We talked at the beginning of this post about SEO being a core part of your marketing strategy, or at least should be, but why?


The answer is fairly simple because when it's done well, the amount of traffic you can receive from it can be enormous. It can literally transform a business.


As such, any site that ranks highly in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) can have a huge impact on the number of people clicking and coming to your site.


The more clicks you get, the more visitors you'll have. The more visitors you have, the more leads you can attract. The more leads you can convert, the more sales you can make. Simple.


You might think that paying to have your adverts placed artificially higher via PPC would result in more traffic, but that's generally not the case.


On average, organic search results have a click-through rate of anywhere between 53-56% of website traffic, as opposed to PPC or paid search results which only account for about 27%. Why is that?


There are a number of reasons for this discrepancy including the rise of ad-blocking software which means people just won't see as many ads as they'll be automatically filtered out.


People also tend to distrust paid ads and often tend to dig a bit deeper and opt for more organic results. They may also feel that organic results better fit their specific search term.


If you asked two friends to recommend a restaurant to you and both offered different answers. Would you trust the one that came from a genuine recommendation, or the one where they were paid by the restaurant to suggest it? Exactly.


When you search for anything online, chances are Google (or whomever you use) will probably offer pages and pages of potential answers that it thinks offers the best solution to your query.


The thing is you're not going to look on Page 27 of your search results, are you? You're probably not even going to look at Page 2 (and you're not alone). It's all about what's listed on Page 1 baby, that's where the clicks are!


The first page of search results is obviously the best place for you to rank, ideally at the very top (which accounts for about 33% of all clicks), but that's easier said than done. Competition is fierce, but that's where SEO comes in.


In such a competitive marketplace, there is only so much real estate on the first page, and with Page 1 of those results catering for 92% of all the traffic generated, you've got your work cut out to get there.


Even if you do get listed on the first page, your battle to be the one people click on isn't over.


Whilst the top organic spot gets about 33% of all the clicks, the result at the bottom of page 1 only gets about 2.5%, so clearly the higher you can rank, even on the first page, the more clicks (and therefore visitors) you're going to get.


THE INTENT

We've talked about intent in our previous Back To Basic blogs (linked here) but it's just as relevant in this post. Let's recap briefly.

A key aspect when you go online and search for something, anything, is your intent, or at least what Google and their counterparts think is your intent.


Depending on what you type into the search field, they will take that search term and try and understand what you really want in order to offer up the best search results.


  • Are you looking for information (known as Informational Intent)?

  • Are you looking to go to a particular website (Navigational Intent)?

  • Are you researching a potential purchase (aka Commercial Investigation?

  • Are you looking for the best price on something you want to buy (this is Transactional Intent).

The last two are where organic SEO really shines.


If someone is searching for a particular 'thing', whether it's shoes, pans, hats, balloons, or anything, there's an understanding that if they're actively searching for a specific 'thing', they're more likely to be already motivated to buy it.


If that's something you sell, or even a service you offer, and it can be presented to those people keen to buy that thing, then that's a perfect match.


It works so much better than trying to convince anyone who just happens to be searching for something else online. This impact on the buying cycle is a key driver for organic SEO.


RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

Anyone who works in the SEO field, as we do, will tell you that search engine optimisation is a LOT of hard work.


While it's gratifying to see clients reap the benefits of a well-crafted SEO strategy, it doesn't happen overnight or for free.


It's a long process of tweaking, testing and trialling new ideas, then tweaking, testing those. Repeat ad infinitum to see how results are affected.


There are days, weeks and even months of hard work, creating amazing content, researching keywords, link-building and so much more.


In these difficult economic times, it's easy for businesses to forgo any SEO investment, but that can often be a false economy for many because SEO actually has a fantastic return on investment.


With the online space being such a crucial part of any business, that investment needs to work for you, and it does with SEO.


Not only is the average conversion rate higher with organic SEO, but it's also an investment that keeps working for you.


It may take some time to get your website ranking highly, but once it's there organically, once Google (et al) recognise that your site has fantastic, unique, informative and engaging content that it can continue to offer to customers, you're winning.


Yes, you'll have to update that content, adding new occasionally and making sure your site is accessible and easy to use (which it should be anyway), but the search engines will continue to offer it to visitors and you'll continue to see a return on your investment.


If you pay for adverts, sure you'll be at the top of rankings for a while, but once that advertising money runs out, so too will your visitors.


Even if you have a large ad spend, that won't mean that you have the content to keep people coming back or convince them to buy your products or services.


SUSTAINABILITY

When it comes to a choice between SEO and PPC, sustainability isn't an environmental concern, but a financial one.


As we just touched upon, paying for online advertising in the form of PPC isn't sustainable, assuming your goal is to attract visitors to your website.


It can certainly give you instant results and a quick hit of visitors while your campaign is running, but that shouldn't be your goal. You should be aiming for long-term traffic that keeps repeating, building up a customer base who literally buy into what you do.


That traffic will be continually attracted by your products, your content and your presence and whilst that's working for you, it's also working for the search engines who will keep recommending it to those searching for relevant topics. It won't disappear overnight once the ad money runs out.


SIMPLICITY

There's no denying that marketing and advertising in general can be complicated. With so many different factors that go into creating a successful marketing campaign, it can be difficult to make it work.


It's tricky now, imagine how much harder it's going to get in the future as people get more segmented online, the platforms they use grow, how they engage with technology evolves and the privacy laws we rely on to protect us get stricter (hopefully).


You only have to look at the changes Apple made to their site tracking in a recent iOS update which stopped advertisers from tracking users across websites.


This seemingly small change in Apple's mobile operating system directly affected Facebook ads revenue simply because of how many people use iPhones. Estimates put the losses to Meta, Facebook's parent company, at around $10 billion per year.


Being able to know where your audience is and how they'll interact with your advertising is only going to get tougher.


Whatever changes may be made, all of those things are less of an issue with SEO as they would be for PPC. This is because SEO is much more straightforward and its success is less impacted by outside influences.


If your competition is focussing on being at the top of the rankings with paid ads and PPC, rather than through searches, you'll have a headstart by concentrating on organic SEO.


SQUARING THE CIRCLE

The title of this post implied that it's a choice between SEO and PPC, but it's not really. Whilst they will both work for you, SEO is more important and it's only going to get more far-reaching.


Google and all the other search engines are constantly updating their algorithm, AI and machine learning is growing in relevance so search engines are getting better at understanding, not only the text of what you type, but the context in which you write it. This is especially relevant when optimising your website.


For all the hyperbole about SEO vs. PPC, the fact is that SEO is more straightforward and sustainable and, when it comes to delivering on a long-term marketing strategy, there's nothing better.


Whilst there is a bit more work to do in making it a success than running a paid-for ad campaign and there is no immediate result, in the long run, it's the only way to attract traffic sustainably and more cost-effectively to your website.

 

We hope that you've found this post interesting but we'd love to know what you think. What are your experiences with organic SEO vs PPC? Have you tried both? What were the results? Did either convince you one way or the other? Let us know in the comments below.


If you need any help with your own SEO efforts, then please get in touch and let's have a conversation about how we can help.


We publish new posts regularly so to keep up-to-date with everything Cubed by connecting with us on social media. All links are at the bottom of the page.

Blog photo courtesy of LunaKate via Envato Elements.

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