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How to Decide Whether SEO or PPC is Right for You


April 28, 2021 11:00 AM EDT
webinar banner for how to decide whether SEO or PPC is right for you.

It’s a BIG question with surprising answers that can make – or break – your online success.

Join us as we closely examine both options and the factors you need to consider when choosing the right channel for your business.

  • You’ll learn to consider PPC or SEO based on:
    WHICH candid questions to ask yourself about your needs
  • WHAT your site should have in place to launch each of them
  • HOW to decide if PPC, SEO or BOTH is right for your competitive environment. (Hint: It’s not always based on budget and timeline.)
  • PLUS, the pros and cons of each

This is your chance to fully weigh out the options that put your marketing dollars to work most effectively!

Presented By:
Angela McAfee, Co-Founder of SEO Rocket – Guides you through an honest evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each advertising method


Read the Video Transcription Here

How To Decide Whether SEO Or PPC Is Right For You
image of Angela

Hello everyone! I hope you're there. Looks like some of you are beginning to join us so I'm going to get started with some of the housekeeping bits just to let you know that you have joined us in listen-only mode. If you've attended our webinars before you've heard that. So that's not news. Obviously, that means that you can hear us but we cannot hear you. However, we really want you to ask us questions. This is your opportunity to ask the expert and get your question answered.

So please type them into that little questions chat box that you see in your dashboard. We love questions and then of course stick around until the end to hear the answers, right? Please do that. Also, at the end of today we're going to talk about next month's content webinar and also an awesome offer that SEO Rocket is offering for our Advanced SEO audits that we were rolling out. So please stick around for that.

Today, we actually have a special surprise guest, which is Sean Browne! He is going to join us today. As you can see how… He's joining us today to answer your questions at the end about PPC and SEO. Whatever you throw at us, he is here to answer them. So please, this is your chance to stump the expert! So go ahead.

Sean Browne image

Hello everybody.

image of Angela

 Yes, Sean is one of our SEO Specialists so we love to give him a good challenge here and there.

Sean Browne image

 I'm all for it.

image of Angela

He's all for it. All right. So I guess I'll get started. So I'm Angela McAfee with SEO Rocket. Thank you for joining us. For some of you who are just joining, we're right at 11 or 1 right now. So this is a good time to get started, which is better.

Sean Browne image

Sure. How do you decide whether SEO or PPC is right for you? That's what we're going to talk about today. So people will often call her sir, come to us and say I need us to go or I need PPC. And that's when we usually say. Well let's decide, you know, if that is what you need or not every situation is unique to the business, to their budget, to their timeline and also to the competitive environment. So, you may think you need one and need the other or need both which is you know definitely a fantastic way to hit it all hard and aggressively.

Today really isn't an SEO versus PPC talk. It's more of a matchmaking philosophy. So when you're listing think about the strengths of each one. And think about your situation, your personal situation with your business, and your marketing planning and needs, give that a good thought, as we're going through.

Consider  - Does this apply to me? Does it not? Or, maybe it will in the future? Decide which one is right for you - SEO or PPC.

So, we have an intense amount of things to discuss today. I'm going to go ahead and get started. I'm going to take my camera down, Sean. You're probably going to do it too, just so you can see this better and we'll go ahead and get started. Thanks for joining us!

Some quick basics

As I go through each of these points this hour, stop and ask yourself “Does this apply to my situation?” From that answer, you will have a strong indicator of which is the best fit for your marketing.

There are two key differences when considering SEO or PPC.

Paid search can offer a fast track to search marketing when done correctly. New businesses can have a hard time getting started with SEO so this is important for them to consider. However, SEO gives brands longevity and their visitors a higher quality site which often leads to higher conversion to sales.

 Let’s start with -


Statistics show that 80% of the traffic that can be generated for any website will come from organic search.

The biggest search engine is undoubtedly Google, which garners more than 5.4 BILLION searches per DAY

Advantages of SEO -

Visibility - It will give you visibility and exposure for many more keywords that are below the search volume threshold that is allowed for you to target by PPC. Most keywords fall in this range. (We call it the “shotgun approach”.)

This broader exposure increases website traffic providing you with more opportunities to drive awareness of your business and educate a prospect as to why they would buy from you. That’s the old marketing funnel – we’ll talk about that in May.

Brand credibility - Being visible gives your business that all-important stamp of approval. You can become an authoritative voice around a given topic.

Once you have established yourself in the organic results, it doesn’t matter what your competitors spend on advertising. They can’t simply displace the organic visibility that you’ve earned.

When seen frequently, your brand can become associated with and trusted by searchers who are asking questions as they conduct research leading up to a purchase. These are the top of funnel, info gathering searches.

Visitor Traffic - Many users skip ads altogether and trust organic results more highly, giving you a higher click-through rate which means more visitor traffic to your website.

Return on investment (ROI) - Organic search engine traffic tends to provide a better long-term ROI as compared to other digital marketing channels.

You aren’t paying for all your visitor traffic like you would be with PPC.

Keep in mind that SEO isn't completely "Free". An investment of time, knowledge, experience, and effort go into making sure that:

-technical SEO needs are met

-that you are creating and promoting rich content for your site regularly

Longevity - Paid advertising only provides you visibility and traffic while your ads are running due to schedule, budget, or both. Organic results are available 24/7/365 – giving you broader, ongoing exposure to prospects.

When you have earned that visibility it’s “sticky”.

Reach - Even though Google is practically synonymous with search itself, with SEO you will earn a broader exposure to your search audience from multiple search engines.

Consider SEO when…

Some circumstances where SEO would prove more beneficial for a business would be:

When consistent results are desired - SEO has a relatively long gestation period. Getting to the first page of search engine results won’t happen overnight. It will take time. However, once your website incrementally gets there via SEO, you will enjoy sustained traffic

Also, if you keep up with your SEO campaign, working to maintain and improve results, you can make an impact that will last many years.

When you have a fixed budget – Organic results are not subject to bidding wars from competitors or new PPC advertisers coming in that may increase your ad costs. When you want to increase the value of your website - Websites are virtual real estate.

Investing in SEO makes your website a more effective marketing tool. Thus, making your business more valuable with an earned asset.

When you wish to build an authoritative site - A high authority website is an established resource center for a particular niche. It is the “go-to” website when people need certain information.

An authority website, once it gets going, will be able to generate lots of traffic based on URL recall alone. i.e. branding

The best way to establish an authoritative site is by sustainably generating traffic to your pages, eventually building up a reputation until it becomes popular enough to dominate its market.

The only way to sustainably generate the traffic required is through “clever” content powered by smart   SEO   planning.

IF a Better User Experience is desired – SEO done correctly goes hand-in-hand with delivering search results that are more user-focused and user-friendly, not only in the information shared, but the speed and accessibility of information delivery. This is why your SEO team makes a big deal of your site’s speed and security. When PPC is Not an Option - If your content is prohibited from PPC ad networks by their guidelines or your targeted search terms do not meet the minimum national search volume requirement… This could be YOU!

Ad networks use a combination of automated and human evaluation to make sure advertisers comply with their policies. They will prohibit certain kinds of content from being advertised and restrict others.

Industries such as health care and medicines, psychological services, financial services, and others have highly situational limitations placed upon them by Google as for what can be advertised.


PPC – Google’s Paid Search Ads in this case since it’s the most directly comparable to SEO for keyword search visibility

Advantages of PPC: Laser-targeted visibility

Why would a business consider paid search?

Some of the benefits PPC offers are:

Position on the page - Paid search typically, dominates above-the-fold content in search results pages. A user will have to scroll past the paid search ads to get to organic results.

Control – You get to determine:

Your budget Which keywords When they’re scheduled to run Even WHERE with Geographic location targeting, etc.

Speed - Whereas, SEO is a long-term marketing channel, PPC campaigns can be set up and delivering results within a matter of days.

Agility - Speed provides agility. Want to test a new product? A new marketing message? You can get rapid feedback on a new product launch or message by running a PPC ad campaign.

Marketing intelligence - Along with marketing control, PPC provides detailed information about which keywords, marketing messaging and landing page performs best.

With solid integration with analytics software (like Google Analytics) you can track results and refine your pay-per-click ad performance to improve ROI.

This intelligence can be applied to other marketing channels to add further value to your pay-per-click.

When to choose PPC

Remember: Consider your unique situation as we go through these –

Your Business is NEW – New businesses often do not have a strong web presence yet, PPC is a good option for you. This is especially true if you are in a high population area competing with similar businesses for top spots in search engine results.

-Highly targeted traffic is sought - Unlike SEO, PPC allows you to focus your advertising reach to specific prospects based on criteria such as location or interests.

For example, with PPC a local business can readily extend its advertising reach to an audience that’s beyond the city or town in which it's located. (example here: Contractors, attorneys, restaurants, service providers, etc.)

- Promoting a time-sensitive offer - When immediate or time-specific results are desired.

PPC works amazingly well with product launches, limited-time offers, seasonal promotions, event-focused marketing, and the like.

 -An e-commerce store - can utilize Shopping Ads - those are the visual product ads that show up in Google search results or the Shopping Tab.

Shopping Ads promote your product in the SERPS by displaying a picture, description, and price, etc. to see and compare to others.

This kind of ad can really improve the click-through rate by offering a feature not available in organic search.

-IF your landing page IS NOT designed for SEO –

If for whatever reason your landing page is just not viable organically and you want traffic from the search engines then PPC will be your best bet.

This is an opportunity to create a custom experience for your pay-per-click audience with PPC-focused landing pages.

For example, promoting “Squeeze pages” that are focused on driving one specific outcome such as: an e-book download or service coupon in exchange for an email address.

These stand-alone pages won’t have the required content to merit a second glance from Google organically.

What about SEO and PPC Together?!

Where you can get SEO and PPC working together, you will often be able to drive results that are greater than their component parts.

Despite what you may have heard, being a pay-per-click advertiser does not DIRECTLY affect your organic results.

That said, there are many advantages when you combine the benefits of SEO with the benefits of PPC such as:

Dominating Search Results – As mentioned before SEO gives exposure for relevant searches your ads aren’t - or are not permitted – to cover.

Pay-per-Click can provide quick visibility for your most important search terms above the SEO results.

In situations where they overlap and you have both a paid ad and an organic result, you are covering more prime real estate on the search results page

SEO Improves PPC Quality – Good SEO practices mean that your site is optimized for relevant searches and user experience with your site’s landing pages. Those are important factors that also affect your PPC Quality Score and can improve ROI there with a lower cost-per-click. PPC Data Improves SEO – Paid ads provide marketing intelligence data that can be applied to refine your SEO program. You’ll have the benefit of additional data to tell you what is working and contribute to your search strategies. Strategic Advantage – With both in combination, you are not putting all eggs into one proverbial basket.

Let’s say if your company had major changes made to your site without SEO ranking preservation in mind and as a result, you suffer a loss of rankings and traffic, then, thankfully you’ll have a mature PPC campaign in place to hold the line. 

Efforts to develop organic traffic can sustain a business when ad spend is cut back due to unforeseen circumstances.

For example, COVID lesson here: We saw this happen starting in Q2 of 2020.

 Companies who relied solely on paid search versus SEO, but then had their ad budgets cut during COVID, LOST the bulk of their online visibility at a time when they needed it most.

That would not have happened had SEO been a part of their marketing plan all along.

Ideally, you will want to develop a holistic search engine strategy for strong visibility in BOTH paid and organic, rather than looking at either PPC or SEO in isolation.

Both methods are in dynamic marketing environments.

Require Ongoing Optimization -

There’s what you are doing. What your competitors are doing. And, what the search engines are doing with their algorithms and testing how they present information on search results pages.

Either or both should never be a set it and forget it situation. Someone needs to pay attention to all 3 of these things like the landscape changes.

For example, with SEO there has been a trend towards mobile-first and page speed and better user experience.

For paid, there are constant changes to features and guidelines to remain competitive. This current year there’s been an emphasis on user privacy and its impact on pay-per-click advertisers.

Hint: This is why most digital marketing campaigns fail. It’s not that they could not work.

They just were not being managed effectively or work being managed at all. Once like I said, not a set it and forget it situation. They really do both of them whichever you choose or choose to work together. They both really need to be managed effectively.  Someone needs to keep up with algorithms, keep up with the changes in the tweaks that are happening and how they affect your business ultimately. Please keep that in mind when discussing all of these options.

image of Angela

It looks like we have some questions that are in here. It's question time!

Let's see. Looks like… let me see what these questions are. We have a couple

I'm going to put my camera up so you guys now you can see me on purpose. Okay, great. So questions here.

Alright, here's an awesome question. What information do you get from PPC that you don't get from SEO? Is this something about Google's privacy reasons, Sean? Are you there? What do you think about that? What information do you get from PPC that you don't get from SEO?

Sean Browne image

Well, no it's not really about privacy. This is something that's been happening for a little while back in the olden days of SEO used to get a lot of good information about search terms that people were using through Google search console and for some unknown reason, Google decided to not make that information readily available to folks through Google Analytics and Google search console organically like it used to be with Google ads.

You actually do have access to the search query data. That is the stuff that people are actually typing in through something called The Search Terms report. And so you can actually see what exactly people have typed in and how it ties back into the keywords that you have targeted for PPC. Now, there is a caveat with that too. Recently, Google has started aggregating and limiting some of the data that appears in Search terms report. So if there were a lot of one-off searches and things like that, you may not necessarily see that in your report anymore. But for the most part, you do still get the vast majority of search term data. In a neat little workaround is you can actually still see your complete search query data. If you look through Google Analytics at your Google ads performance. So that's a little bit about more technical workaround but you still have access to more of that data than you would. That's the big thing. Yeah.

image of Angela

Awesome. I hope that answers your question. Let's see we have one or two more, and which is we're going really, we're doing really well on time. So this is awesome. Another one is, can I run PPC just for specials? And not all the time?

Sean Browne image

Ah, well, yes you can do that, but there are a lot of good reasons why you don't necessarily want to do that as Angela had mentioned. When it comes to results, PPC is a lot faster than organic SEO, but it still isn't instant.

And it's important to keep in mind that Google Ads best practices say that you need to give the system about 14 to 21 days from making major changes to let the system learn. So, a major change for Google Ads would be starting up a new campaign. Restarting an existing campaign that had been paused previously or making something like a budget change and so by starting and stopping you're missing out on a good opportunity for your ads to learn from trends that have been going on and information that Google's AI is privy to that. We as advertisers are just not privy to. We get a good amount of information, but they are millions and millions of signals that Google's machine learning has access to that we just can't keep up with.

Then some other reasons are any kind of A/B Testing, which you should always be testing, different ad messaging, different landing page options, and things like that. If you're pausing your ads, you're undermining your testing and you may not be giving those tests the chance to accumulate the kind of data that they need to tell whether or not, they've been successful and the same applies. If you got ads that it may have been underperforming in the past a poorly performing ad may just need time in tweaking to figure out what's going on and improve performance. A paused ad can't deliver anything. So that's an important thing and instead of pausing your ads you might want to do something like you can set up add schedules within Google ads so you can say okay I only want my ads to run a certain time of day or certain days of the week and you want to absolutely make sure that you're utilizing tools like negative keywords. So those are terms… They're like the antithesis of a keyword. They're saying okay these are terms I do not want my ads to show up for and that can really help you control your costs and more qualify your audiences.

image of Angela

Awesome. So, I promised you that Sean would give you a thorough answer to your questions and he did. Thank you so much, Sean and I can always count on you. I really get it. All right, so we have one more and less than another one comes in, which it does. You're welcome to. This is your chance. You have another one up to shoot us real quick. Please do here in the next minute or so, we have one more question that's in. All right, so should I bid on my own brand for PPC?

If I'm already ranking for it, organically should I bid on my brand? If I'm ranking for it, organically, what say you, Sean?

Sean Browne image

That is a really good question, and that is a question, we get a lot. So again, the short answer is, yes, it is a good idea to bid on your brand, even if you have high organic rankings already and there are a few different reasons for this. So, like Angela had mentioned bidding on your

And helps you dominate that search engine result page, and that's going to in turn increase your click-through rate, and it's going to help assure Searchers that you are a prominent player for your service or your product. So it basically in your Arena, another really nice benefit is you can control your messaging. So PPC gives you the opportunity to test out different ad copy different and creatives even to tell Google what landing pages you want to use organically. You don't have quite as much control changes. Take time adjustments to messaging will take time and Google is determining what the most relevant landing page is not you as an Advertiser. Another really good thing is, it's protecting your brand from competitors. Some Savvy competitors may end up actually bidding on your brand to try and surpass you on the Google search page. So their ads may appear even above that first organic,

Ranking, If you bid on your own brand, that's giving you an opportunity to beat them to the punch. And on top of that branded searches, you are the most relevant person for your brand. Your company is always going to be the most relevant, and that means that your clicks are cheap. So what the average cost per click on Google ads is somewhere in the neighborhood of three dollars and Seventeen cents branded to clicks. Are much much cheaper, they're closer to what?

Would pay for display clicks which are less than a dollar more often than not.

And so your brand is going to have high-quality scores and lower cost per clicks. And then another even more benefit is it will help you convert people that are pretty low in that search funnels. So they've already done their research. They've already kind of narrow down who they want to either select for service or to buy their products from. And you're just at this point, making it easier for them to go, right to your site, go right to that page and complete that action.

And then on top of that, I know. And wait, there's more! Studies have actually shown that there's this halo effect that occurs when people see your search results or see you in the search results for both paid and organic. And so paid does kind of steal a little bit of your organic traffic.

But ultimately, you'll end up getting more visitor traffic when you're utilizing both than you would if you were just utilizing organic SEO or PPC alone. It's like a one plus one equals three kinds of situation. So, I mean there are just so many good reasons to do it.

image of Angela

Well, that's what we were talking about earlier SEO plus PPC. Is that, you know, the sum being greater than its whole. Exactly the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Let me rephrase that. Yeah, that definitely goes into there. We do at SEO Rocket. We do PPC for our brand and it's what 40, 50 cents a click now? It's very, very inexpensive just for our brand terms, right? Absolutely. And then it gives us, you know, more dominance on the page and you can see us in the organic results, you can see us in the Google My Business listings, you can see us at the paid ads. It is a great way to sort of, you know, express your authority there, and your dominance on the page.

Well, that's it for questions and Sean gave you some fantastic answers. I hope you learned a lot from that and we certainly enjoy having you with us here today. As we are reporting live from our home offices that we're still in as we rotate in and out of the offices and mostly still at home.

Thank you for joining us today. I want to invite you to join us next month. Let's see here. Next month, our webinar on May 26. That will be creating content for each stage of your marketing funnel. So please join us for that. We've done content. We did do a Content webinar before, but this breaks it down even further and talks about the marketing funnel stages. All the way from Discovery and Consideration, Exploration all the way to our main goal of course, which is always a purchase or contact or things of that nature. We're going to talk about tips. I’ll give you tips on what your visitors want to see on your site to give them confidence in you and help them build that relationship with you at each step and in your social media, as well. That content at each of the different stages of the marketing funnel.

Great information, please. Join us for that if you'd like to sign up for that and you can go to the SEO homepage right now, Sean put it up while I was talking earlier. There's a Register Now button and you'll see this image on our homepage. Go there, you can register now and save your seat. Would love to have you join us again, May 26th. We'll see you.

Then, if you would like to see this webinar again, maybe there's something you missed or a note that you didn't take or you wanted me to see me screw up again and cut my camera on when I wasn't supposed to accidentally. You want to see that again? You can go to our YouTube channel and this webinar will be up soon. While you're there. Please click that little bell icon and subscribe so you can see the videos sent to you every time we post new ones. Also, we'll have them up on our blog and a couple of days too at SEO

Any questions that you have that may come in afterward? Please give me a shout-out at Angela at SEO I'll be happy to get those answers to you. And we have one more thing today.

I don't know if you've seen this yet, but we are now doing offering Advanced SEO Audits. So, this is a great way. If you are not really sure what your SEO performance looks like how you're doing that or where to start with it. This is a really good foot in the door just to begin thinking about, you know, where your strengths and weaknesses are for your site. So that Advanced Audit, we look at a hundred points, SEO site audit, one of our SEO experts in-house will do that for you. They'll provide you with an executive summary of the findings and the recommendations and then we'll also will do a one-hour consultation call with you that you can record if you would like and we can send you that recording. You'll have that consultation with our SEO specialist which will go over all the recommendations where they see opportunities for improvement, you know, where they see what the findings are and what we're recommending to you. It's an awesome value. It takes us about a week to turn around and get that to you. You get it, the executive summary and that consultation. We are actually doing a twenty percent off on that through the end of this month to the end of April. Check it out. You've got three days left! I’ll pop the link in the chatbox. You can follow that link to our site and see get more information on those SEO Audits and sign up for one. Please do that. If you're questioning your SEO performance right now, we're questioning whether SEO or PPC is right for you, that would be a fantastic, fantastic place for you to start. Follow that link and you can find that.

Thank you so much for joining us today we actually are finishing up early. I don't know how I did that. That's like 15 minutes away. This is the first time. But, good for you. I'll let everyone get onto their lunches but thank you for your time today. We appreciate you joining us and we hope you think this hour/45 minutes was worth it to you.

Sean and I are out for now. Bye bye. We hope to see you in May! Thanks everyone!

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