SEO vs. PPC: Which One Is Better?


When you’ve just started an online business, you want everything to happen fast. You want prospects to see it; you want constant traffic, a strong brand and soaring sales. These cannot become a reality overnight, however.

Besides, you need to channel your resources wisely and pick your investments carefully. Such investments at the beginning of a startup require thorough research and preparation. Many new entrepreneurs who want to succeed online ask us: “What should we begin with, SEO or PPC?”. This post is addressed to anyone confused about the topic and looking to grow their online business through smart and manageable investments. PPC, SEO or both? You will find out the answer below.

SEO vs. PPC – Know the differences

Both are widely recognised as effective techniques to grow a budding business. So which one is best to choose, when you are just starting and have a relatively small budget? There are big differences between SEO and PPC campaigns and their respective results. Pay-Per-Click advertising lets you place ads online but pay for these only when visitors click on them. This prevents wasting money on ads that don’t get seen or clicked by people. When such an ad is clicked, the visitor gets straight to your website, and you increase your organic traffic. If what they see is what they need, then you have the chance to close a sale. With PPC, advertisers bid against each other for the same competitive keyword.

Search engine optimisation, on the other hand, uses a whole series of specific techniques to get a website to rank high on certain search engines. It deals with the realm of organic search and not with paid search like Pay-Per-Click campaigns do. The more relevant a website becomes, the higher it ranks in search engine results.

The main difference between the two strategies is that you cannot purchase visits with SEO. You pay for the service for the length of time you can afford, and the website grows on its own. With PPC, you simply pay for the clicks earned by your ads.

Which service is quicker to yield results?

Being a more focused tactic, Pay-Per-Click advertising produces immediate results. If you’re in need of immediate results and cost control, go for it. Implementing SEO tactics takes between one and three months. The effort is greater, as there are many complex steps to be completed. PPC is far easier to set up and very quick to obtain results. SEO takes the time to catch on, but the results are long-term. Give it at least a couple of weeks.

Which one is more costly?

Both services can be just as expensive. However, depending on the amount of work and the deal you get, SEO can be cheaper (plus, there are some free techniques one can employ, to same money). PPC is always pricy because many businesses are competing for the same popular keywords. Besides, you will have to refresh the ads, improve them and pay to create new traffic each month. Those costs may as well go up unexpectedly when there’s suddenly more competition within the same field.

How much traffic will SEO and PPC bring you?

It is quite hard to tell with SEO since there are many factors involved (competition, content, budget, SEO specialist expertise, etc.) but the improvement is long-term and can be truly fantastic. It boosts website visibility when people search for the related specific keywords online. As for PPC, you can have quick access to a significant number of prospects. Just bid more than everyone on the chosen keyword and Google will give you what you want. Note that this increase in traffic will only be temporary and the system can be a bit tricky. While you may enjoy the traffic, it doesn’t necessarily lead to more sales. You’re only paying for the clicks and the visitors that get through. These may or may not buy. Closing a sale is still up to you, to what you can deliver and how convincingly you do that. The conversion rate stands at 1.45%. SEO can boost that, considering it also implies content improvement efforts, reputation management, authority and brand building and so much more. Good online businesses don’t just have a lot of traffic – their conversion rate is high.

Understanding organic vs. paid results

When discussing organic and paid searches, the bottom line is: you cannot replace one with the other. As research has shown, organic results generate between 8 and 9 more clicks that the paid ones do. Not only that the number is higher than what PPC campaigns succeed, but the value of these clicks is also greater. You can fully understand this by reading about the public perception below. More statistics reveal that organic searches make for 51% of all incoming traffic, while paid traffic only stands at 10%. Therefore, it is better to focus on increasing organic traffic to your business website if you want to sell more. There is no equality between paid and organic, at least not in terms of quality and conversion rate, which are the most important criteria. This is why Internet businesses prefer a long-term SEO collaboration as an effective online marketing strategy.

Public perception

Let’s talk about how organic results are more attractive to customers than the paid ads they see. Customer psychology isn’t that complicated. People don’t trust ads, they see them as purely commercial. They are well aware that anyone can pay for an ad. Instead, they’d rather see established brands they can trust. SEO, however, brings a well-deserved growth. When someone looks for a product or information online, they check the first links to appear in their search results. When they see ads, they become suspicious. An ad is made to sell, sometimes using lies and manipulation, while hiding a rather poor product or service. Customers no longer want that risk. Consumers trust websites and brands that can provide them with quality content, with relevant information and with answers to their queries. A startup cannot generate trust by using digital advertising alone. By definition, it is brand new to the market and needs to establish itself through tactics which are appreciated and rewarded.

How can a startup gain market dominance?

Here are some of the key tactics to be used by startups to succeed:

  • Create in-demand content,
  • Have a content marketing plan,
  • Collaborate with digital agency professionals,
  • Invest in a long-term SEO strategy,
  • Have SEO work in conjunction with a PPC campaign if you wish,
  • Research keywords to find the popular, yet low-competition ones,
  • Get professional branding services.

Many of the points above represent frequently employed SEO techniques that push for a higher return of investment. SEO is what the big brands do; these also launch Pay-Per-Click campaigns now and then too, to boost traffic temporarily and raise brand awareness. If you must choose, do it based on your business goals and on how many competitors you have. Ideally, you would have a smart combination of the two methods, with a well-dosed PPC, for fruitful online marketing efforts.

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