First thing’s first, let’s talk briefly about PPC and SEO, what they are, and how they work.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC advertising is when you pay the search engine for your ad to appear when someone performs a search. For example, if you search Google you will see ads at the top and right of search pages.
If you search on pretty much any consumer product, like golf balls or shoes, you’ll see them. Google has also been testing new strategies out, so sometimes you can see them at the bottom of web pages as well.
Unlike organic listings, when a user clicks a paid ad, the website owner pays a cost for each click. Websites can also choose to be a part of the “Google display network.” This allows you to have a graphic ad displayed on a website, and you pay a price you bid on for every 1000 impressions (called CPM).
One of the primary benefits to a PPC campaign is that you can get traffic to your website almost instantly – the day your ads go live. However, it can be very costly if you don’t monitor it closely or know how to properly manage a PPC campaign.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the practice of improving your website optimization for better organic rankings and traffic with the search engines. For example, just like we displayed in the paid ads above, when you keep scrolling down you will see the organic results:
Organic search engine optimization can result in high volumes of targeted traffic that you don’t have to pay a cost per click for, so it’s very desirable. When you hear the words “organic SEO,” you can think of marketing that is intended to rank your site on the first page of Google for a desirable search term. However, it does require a lot hard work and can take several months or more to show results.
If you start a new website from scratch, you can hit page one of Google within 3-6 months for some of your keywords – and that’s if you are lucky. For some difficult keywords you can expect 12-18 months or so before you have solid keyword rankings and traffic.
Google charges nothing for ranking in organic search – in fact, it is NOT a service they offer. If you want to have the work done, you have to hire an internet marketing company (like us) to do it for you.
Even though it takes longer and requires more work, organic search generally costs less over time and is a long term investment in your online business that can benefit you for years to come.
SEO and PPC Deliver Incredible Benefits When They Work Together
Honestly, there aren’t many studies out there that discuss this. But, interestingly enough, a guest author posted an article at Search Engine Watch where he found that each organic position gained resulted in a 9% decrease in PPC costs for the same keyword. Practically, that means if you ranked in position 10, and then moved up to 9, you should notice a 9% decrease in PPC costs (or close to it). If you climbed to position 1-3, costs declined by 70%.
Brafton, a content marketing and internet marketing company, notes that searchers trust your company more if they find you with multiple search results on the same page. For example, you’ll get more clicks if you have a PPC ad at the top of the page, and then an organic search listing down below.
PPC can help your SEO because you can still track keyword analytics for paid search versus organic search where you cannot. Track some of the same keywords you’re optimizing your website for, and see the success each keyword brings. You can see the success by monitoring keyword bounce rate, average time on site, and conversion rate. This way you can see if certain keywords are going to bring you sales to really dial in your ongoing SEO efforts.
Which Should You Use?
So, the bottom line is that neither PPC nor SEO is the “better” answer. Rather, it’s all about finding the right mix of the two.