If you ask someone who is focused on one of these areas, they may argue one is better than the other.
The truth is that it depends on what your situation is and what your goals are.
Here’s what you will want to consider:
Speed and Time
One of PPC’s best benefits is that you can be up and running fast. In less than an hour, you could have a campaign set up and getting traffic.
On the other hand, work done on SEO may take a while to show its effect in the Search Engines.
This isn’t always the case though. For example, if you feature in Google News results you can very quickly get traffic in huge volumes.
Another way you can get a lot of traffic quickly with SEO is if your website is mentioned on a popular website, more on that in a bit.
Budget and ROI
If you have no budget, SEO is your only option. You only need a bit of spare time to start working on SEO.
Without money, you don’t have the option to try PPC. It requires money and a period of time to optimise for best performance and that effort is ongoing.
Even if you have money for PPC, you want the revenue you receive from it to exceed what you’re spending, otherwise you’re losing money. The price you pay for clicks on certain keywords or industries may be too high to make it work for your business.
I emphasise ‘your’ business because while you may see your competitors using PPC it doesn’t mean you’ll make it work.
Take a look at some of the average cost per click across different industries:
The potential for high return on investment is much greater with SEO. Every click with PPC costs you money but with SEO, once you’re getting a significant amount of visitors from search engines, you could continue to get visitors for a long time without any further investment of time or money. That can’t be said for PPC. If times are lean or if the money you’re making from PPC is exceeding what you’re making you have to turn it off (more on this later).
PPC gives you targeting options you just don’t get with SEO. You can be extremely precise or very broad.
Here are just some of the targeting options:
… and many more.
And you add these in combination in combination with:
All those options enable you to reach a very specific audience or change your message/offer based on who you are targeting.
Since Google stopped providing keyword data, tracking which keywords generate sales or leads is a challenge. There are some services that try to visits from keywords (SEMrush, Keyword Hero ] but you’re still operating in relative darkness when it comes to attributing revenue to specific keywords.
With PPC you have the ability track how keywords (or other targeting methods) perform.
You can track how much money a particular keyword generates for you, value per click or impression, bounce rate, pages viewed, how many website interactions a visitor had before they bought and so much more. This kind of knowledge can even help you decide on keywords to target with SEO.
SEO gives you the opportunity to appear alongside some of the world’s biggest brands with far fewer resources.
If you have content people value, you can rank for keywords that would cost a fortune if you were using PPC. If you have a lot of popular content, it can really add up.
Take a look at the estimated cost of Hubspot’s organic traffic if it was generated with PPC:
If you’re doing SEO right, you’ll be getting links from websites that can send visitors to your website. That means you’re actually achieving two things:
1. Each time you get a link, you have the potential to get visitors from the page linking to you.
2. That link could also help you rank higher in the search engines.
So, when you’re doing SEO you’re also working on referral traffic from other websites, which is another traffic source outside of search engines.
What I hope you’ve got from this is SEO and PPC are allies! One is not ‘better’ than the other.
When SEO and PPC are combined, your results can be enhanced.
If we just look at Search, you can appear more than once in the results, giving you a higher chance of getting attention and visits.
You can retarget to visitors from any traffic source so SEO can help add new, relevant visitors to your retargeting audiences.
PPC allows you to understand what keywords could work before investing the time into SEO for them.
PPC can help you fill in gaps in your rankings while you work on SEO.
Finally, relying on one channel to support a business is risky. You only have to do a quick search to find the desperate posts of people who have had their Adwords account banned, or their organic rankings have tanked due to an algorithm change by the search engine.