What’s the difference between SEO and PPC, and how do you choose where to focus?
SEO refers to search engine optimization and is the process of letting the search engines know what your website is all about. SEO generally consists of keyword research, placing code into the webpages to let search engines know what the your site is about, link building, content marketing and other tactics. These strategies help search engines like Google show (and rank) your website in relevant search queries.
PPC, or Pay Per Click, is paid advertising such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. PPC is user-based and its goal is to bring traffic to the website from users who were not necessarily searching for your service or product, but have similar interests or a problem you can solve.
So, which should you focus on? Will you get better results from PPC or SEO?
There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and there are different answers for different websites and different businesses. Which is, of course, the vague answer you wanted – right?
Here we list some important things to consider when deciding between the two:
- If you are a bit tech-savvy, you can read up online about SEO best practices and implement SEO strategies yourself, which means you get SEO for free. If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, which is built to accommodate SEO without any need for coding, the process will be easier. PPC is never free, and in order to get significant results you do need to invest a fair amount – at least $5-10 a day. If you’re not able to implement SEO yourself, compare the price of SEO through an agency ($800-$1500/month dependent on your keywords, niche and goals) vs. PPC to see what works best for your budget.
- SEO needs periodic tweaking to stay updated. Keyword popularity is not static and SEO best practices are constantly changing as the search engines try to stay ahead of the spammers. PPC can create a buzz which lasts beyond the ads themselves, but you are still likely to run more than one campaign. Neither PPC nor SEO is something you can do once and forget about.
- Every industry is different. Some industries are highly competitive (like website hosting) and that can make online marketing that much harder. Check the competitiveness of relevant keywords using the Google External Keyword Research Tool and the cost per click of ads in Google Adwords. If competition is fierce in the search engines, but you can get your ads shown inexpensively through Adwords, PPC is the way to go. But if the cost per click is high, and you can compete on long tail keywords in your niche, SEO may be a better bet.
- You won’t see results from an SEO campaign immediately. It takes search engines a while to scan all the websites on the internet and there’s no way to know when they will get to yours. It could take up to a year of regular SEO work to see results. PPC results are much quicker. You will soon see what’s working and what’s not, and can easily tweak and test new ads. Insights gleaned from PPC testing can also be used to improve the user experience on your website.
Of course, PPC vs. SEO is not necessarily an either/or proposition. A combination of SEO and PPC can be the answer for many websites. Concentrate on building a website with good content and which conforms to the basic rules of SEO, and devote a small budget to PPC to get an initial buzz going or advertise a specific product or service. These days, many SEO agencies offer PPC services as part of their packages, since they recognize that both approaches complement each other.
Submitted by Hadassah