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SEO or PPC – Which Will Be Best for My Business?

We are often asked, “Which is better: SEO or PPC?” This question is usually followed up with, “How quickly can I be #1 in Google?” or, “I’ve tried PPC and wasn’t sure what to do.” And usually, our answer begins with, “It depends.” It truly depends on your priorities, resources, and marketing objectives.

This discussion is not an SEO (i.e., organic search) versus PPC (i.e., paid ads) conversation. It’s more of a matchmaking philosophy. Even though there are many different types of paid advertising on various ad networks, when people refer to PPC, they generally think of Google’s Search Ads. Those ads appear at the top of Google’s search engine results above SEO web page results. Unless otherwise noted, we’ll refer to Google’s Search Ads as PPC for this discussion. They both have strengths and can benefit your business significantly in different ways

SEO or PPC - Which is right for your business?

There are two key differences when considering SEO or PPC.

  • PPC can offer you a fast track to successful results when done correctly.
  • SEO gives your brand longevity and your visitors a high-quality site experience.

BONUS: For additional information on this topic, watch our webinar on How to Decide Whether SEO or PPC is Right For You.

The Strengths of Choosing SEO

There are multiple reasons why you might want to choose SEO to promote your business online; the strongest are:

Return on Investment (ROI) – Organic search engine traffic typically provides a better long-term ROI than other digital marketing channels.

Remember that a free traffic source doesn’t mean SEO is “Free.” SEO requires a consistent investment of time, knowledge, experience, and effort to make sure that:

  • Technical SEO needs are met.
  • You are creating and promoting rich content for your site regularly.


Longevity and Reach – Organic results are available 24/7/365 – giving you broader, ongoing exposure to prospects in multiple engines, not just Google. When you have earned that visibility with good practices, it tends to remain “sticky.”

Visibility – SEO offers you greater visibility and exposure for many more keywords than PPC search ads, especially any relevant keywords that fall below the minimum search volume threshold required to target with PPC.

This broader exposure increases website traffic, giving you more opportunities to drive awareness of your business and educate a prospect on why they should buy from you.

Visitor Trust Factor – 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.

Brand Credibility – Earning your SEO visibility gives your business that all-important stamp of approval. You can become an authoritative voice around a topic, driving traffic and higher conversion rates.

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.

The Strengths of Paid Search Ads

For some businesses, paid search ads better match their needs. Here are a few of paid search ads’ strongest points:

Fast Results PPC campaigns can be set up and deliver results within the same day. With the correct targeting and budget, you can experience an upward shift in traffic and results quickly.

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 your messaging by running a PPC campaign.

Marketing Intelligence  Along with marketing control, PPC provides detailed information about which keywords, marketing messaging, and landing pages perform best.

With solid integration with analytics software (like Google Analytics), you can track KPIs such as calls (and their origin), website form fill-outs, and e-commerce orders to refine your pay-per-click ads performance and improve ROI.

BONUS: This intelligence can be applied to other marketing channels and paid ad types to add further value to your pay-per-click.

Control With paid ads, you have more control and targeting than with any SEO tactic. As an advertiser, you get to determine the following:

  • Ad Budget
  • Keywords, Search Queries, and target Audiences that matter to you
  • When your ads will run
  • Where ads will run using geographic location targeting

Page Position – The top paid search ads typically dominates above-the-fold content in search results pages. Users must scroll past the paid search ads to view organic (i.e., SEO) results.

Forced to Select One Over the Other?

Choose SEO When These Situations Apply to You

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

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 gets there via SEO, you will enjoy sustained traffic with proper ongoing maintenance.

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.

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, making your business more valuable with an earned asset.


Consider SEO when Infographic

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.

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. That is why your SEO team makes a big deal about your site’s speed and security.

Paid Search Ads are Not an Option There may be numerous reasons why you cannot use search ads, such as:

  • If your content is prohibited from PPC ad networks by their guidelines
  • If your targeted search terms do not meet the minimum national search volume requirement
  • If the cost-per-click for keywords in your industry is cost prohibitive

 If these sound familiar, then this could be YOU!

Choose Paid Search Ads for These Situations

Give PPC a try when these situations apply to your business:

Your Business is NEW New businesses may not be able to compete effectively in the SEO area initially since they have not established a strong enough web presence yet. This situation is especially true if you are in a high-population area competing with several businesses like yours for top spots in the search engine results.

Highly Targeted Traffic is Needed – Unlike SEO, PPC allows you to focus your advertising reach on specific prospects based on criteria such as location or interests. Many local businesses will use PPC ads to get found by customers who may not be near their business location.


Consider PPC when infographic

You are Promoting a Time-Sensitive Offer – When more immediate or time-specific results are desired.

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

An E-commerce Store Online stores can use a distinct type of paid ads, Shopping Ads, to promote their products. For example, Google Shopping Ads are the visual product ads that appear in Google search results or the Shopping Tab and display a product photo, description, and price.

You Need Visibility Beyond the Search Results PPC isn’t limited to Search Ads. Depending on your marketing goals, you can use different ad types to reach more potential customers outside the search engines. For example, Google Display Ads can appear on millions of other partner websites, mobile applications, and YouTube.

Can SEO and Paid Ads Work Together?

Of course!

Where you can get SEO and PPC working together, you can often drive results greater than their parts.

There are many advantages when you combine the benefits of SEO with the perks of PPC, such as:

Dominating Search Results – SEO gives exposure for relevant searches your ads aren’t – or are not permitted – to cover. At the same time, 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 cover more prime real estate on the search results page.


SEO and PPC working together

SEO Improves PPC Quality – Good SEO practices mean your site is optimized for relevant searches and user experience. These are essential factors that also affect your PPC Quality Score and foster improved ROI.

PPC Data is Applicable to SEO – In return, paid ads provide marketing intelligence data that can be applied to refine your SEO program.

Strategic Advantage – With both in combination, you are not putting all your eggs into one search marketing basket. There’s dual coverage!

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

For more in-depth information on this topic, watch our webinar on How to Decide Whether SEO or PPC is Right For You

To better understand your business’s unique needs, consider working with an agency specializing in these tactics with more than 20 years of experience and expertise in getting the most out of Google Ads and SEO. Doing so will help your brand stand out among your competition and reach a highly targeted audience.

We hope these key points to consider are helpful to you in deciding if SEO or PPC is right for you. We understand everyone’s situation is unique. We’d love to help you select the right combination of marketing tools best for your budget and business needs. If you are interested in elevating your marketing efforts, contact SEO Rocket.

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