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What Are SEO and PPC and Which One Should I Be Using?

As digital marketing continues to evolve, the importance of understanding the differences between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) becomes increasingly critical for businesses looking to maximize their digital marketing efforts. With the rapid changes in the technology and algorithms of search engines, understanding how SEO and PPC work and can work together can be the key to success in 2023.

So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about SEO and PPC! Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision as to which one you should pick and how you can combine the two to help your business achieve success:

What are SEO and PPC?

SEO is a long-term strategy that focuses on improving website rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO includes optimizing web page content, coding, and other elements so that search engine algorithms can easily read and understand it. SEO also involves building backlinks from other websites and optimizing other elements such as titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. SEO is an important part of digital marketing because it helps to drive organic traffic to your website and can mean exponential long-term growth.

PPC, on the other hand, is a more immediate strategy. PPC involves using paid advertising, such as Google or Facebook Ads, to drive traffic to your website. With PPC, you pay to have your ads appear at the top of search engine results pages, within social media feeds, or other places around the web. The amount you pay is based on how often people click on or view your ad (cost-per-click or cost-per-impression). PPC is great for driving targeted traffic to your website and can be used to complement your SEO efforts.

Because SEO is a long-term strategy, we often recommend using PPC in the early stages to supplement traffic and lead generation while SEO efforts ramp up. Sometimes PPC spend can be reduced after 6-12 months if SEO is producing enough leads and results. However, many clients choose to continue PPC because the return on investment of PPC+SEO has been proven at that point.

What Are Some of the Parts of a Successful SEO and PPC Strategy?

SEO is a powerful tool for helping your website rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). Some of the most common and important parts of a successful SEO strategy include:

  1. Keyword research

Researching relevant keywords and phrases related to your business and using them strategically in your content can help you rank higher in SERPs. This also includes researching what keywords your competitors are using and making the decision whether to try to rank for high-, medium-, or low-volume keywords. Higher volume keywords are, naturally harder to rank for because they typically have more competition.

  1. Content creation & optimization

Creating content consistently that is relevant to your target audience and optimizing it for SEO using relevant keywords, proper headers, internal and external links, images with ALT tags, and other SEO tactics, is a cornerstone to any good SEO strategy. Optimizing pre-existing content this same way is also important.

  1. Link building

Getting backlinks from high-authority websites can help increase your ranking in search engine results by providing Google with positive signals that those linking domains consider your content worth providing to their users. Backlinks should be another non-negotiable part of your SEO plan.

  1. Technical optimization

Ensuring that your website is optimized for mobile devices and complying with search engine guidelines is essential for SEO success. This includes speed, user experience, user interface, and code-based optimization that can all impact how Google sees your website from a purely technical standpoint.

This only scratches the surface of SEO, but hopefully gives you a good idea of some of the important pieces of the puzzle.

Now, let’s talk PPC. Pay-per-click advertising is a powerful tool for driving targeted traffic to your website relatively quickly. Some of the most parts of a solid PPC strategy are:

  1. Hiring a PPC expert

This may sound odd as part of the strategy, but hiring a PPC expert is important because they can help you create and manage effective PPC campaigns. Without an expert, you will end up wasting a lot of time and money trying to figure it out, and chances are you may never get an effective ROI trying to do it yourself.

  1. Targeting the right audience

Using specific targeting options like location, age, gender, etc., can help you reach the right audience. In some cases, you can also upload existing lists of customers and create lookalike audiences from them, which can speed up the process of finding users that match your ideal customer’s shopping habits. Getting in front of the right audience is essential to being successful.

  1. A/B testing

A/B testing, which is the act of testing one piece of ad copy, ad creative, or landing page against another, can help you determine which PPC ads or landing pages are most effective in terms of clicks, conversions, and cost per click. You should always be A/B testing something to improve performance, one aspect of the campaign at a time.

  1. Competitor Research

Doing competitive research to see what keywords your competition is targeting, what their ads say and look like, what their landing pages look like and how they function, etc, is another very valuable “tool” that you should utilize in your PPC strategy. This can give you a starting point or help identify what other big players are doing that you aren’t.

SEO and PPC are powerful tools for increasing website traffic and improving conversions, ultimately increasing your bottom line. Depending on your business goals and objectives, you can decide which one is best for you.

What Are the Advantages of SEO vs. PPC?

One of the key advantages of SEO is that it’s a long-term strategy for gaining organic traffic. Unlike PPC, SEO does not require both management and ad-spend budgets and can lead to sustained success if done correctly. SEO also offers more control over the results you get, as it is not dependent on any third-party advertising networks. Additionally, SEO can result in higher-quality traffic, since those users are actively searching for your services and clicking on your organic listings (unlike PPC, which is interruptive marketing).

Another advantage of SEO is that it can help you build a strong brand presence. Through SEO, you can create content that is targeted toward a specific audience. This can help establish your brand as an authoritative source within your industry, which can lead to more people becoming aware of your business. Additionally, SEO can help build trust with customers, as they are more likely to trust organic results than sponsored ones.

On the other hand, PPC offers a more immediate solution for driving traffic to your site. With PPC, you simply pay for each click that your ad receives. This can be a great way to get your message out there quickly, and it’s especially useful for campaigns that require a fast response. Additionally, PPC can provide detailed insights into how your ads perform for certain audiences, allowing you to optimize your campaigns and potentially translate some of what you learn to other areas of your marketing strategy.

When Should I Pick SEO over PPC or Vice Versa?

In our opinion, you should always be working on SEO because it allows you to establish a long-term presence online that, when done effectively, can snowball your traffic in the future. SEO can also be done cheaper, especially if you are doing it yourself, because it does not require an ad-spend budget that goes directly to the PPC platform. So, if you have time and don’t need immediate business out of your marketing campaign, or if you are also running PPC advertisements, SEO is the way to go.

Meanwhile, if you are considering PPC over SEO, you should expect to spend more because of the cost for clicks and impressions on the advertising platforms, along with management fees. There will still be some startup time required to build landing pages, design and write copy for ads, set up the accounts, launch everything, and begin optimizing things – however, that process shouldn’t take more than a month or two, compared to SEO’s 6-12 months to start seeing results. PPC is also a great option if you want to simply test a business idea before committing to it. Finally, if you know who your target market is and can target them specifically, PPC is a great option that may produce quick results.

How about Combining the Two?

Of course, like we mentioned above, you can actually combine the two together, which has plenty of benefits:

First, with the combination of SEO and PPC, not only will you get that long-term results from SEO, but you will also get that quick traffic to get things started. In conjunction, these two can give you results at all times, helping you keep your business running.

Second, with PPC’s ability to quickly capture attention and SEO to maintain it, you’re essentially filling every needed slot to create loyal customers. Through PPC, they will learn about you, and with SEO, they will learn to love you for what you have to offer!

Finally, you can save money. SEO is cheap, if not free, and while PPC itself isn’t free, you can rely on ads so long as you have the money. If you ever run out of budget for it, you can stop the ads and rely on organic traffic produced by SEO efforts long-term.

Use SEO and PPC to Achieve Grow Your Business!

Ultimately, the decision of whether to use SEO or PPC comes down to your business goals and budget. If you’re looking for short and long-term results and have the budget for it, SEO+PPC is the best option. However, if you need quick results and are willing to pay for them, PPC may be the better choice. It’s important to consider your options and decide which one will provide the best ROI for your business.

We definitely don’t recommend ignoring either as you grow the business. Always be testing and exploring new marketing strategies, whether it is new content topics or advertising platforms.

Decisive Design is a Dallas-based SEO and online marketing company that helps businesses create highly-converting websites and successful online presences. If you are looking for an SEO or PPC agency to help you with your marketing needs, reach out to us today.

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