Should I Invest in SEO or PPC Marketing?

Try killing 2 birds with one stone by using PPC marketing first to find successful terms to target in your seo strategy all while driving immediate, scalable traffic that you can control.

2016-02-29 12.04.23.jpg

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are wondering whether to pursue SEO or PPC marketing. Both search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing are two highly effective techniques for driving traffic to a website. However, there are some major differences between the two that shouldn’t go unnoticed. So before you embark on a new marketing campaign, you should familiarize yourself with the nuances of SEO vs PPC.


What’s the Difference?

SEO refers to practices, both on-site and off-site, that encourage higher search rankings for one or more keywords. For instance, you can optimize your website for higher search rankings by adding unique, relevant title tags to each page, and building backlinks pointing to those pages. PPC, on the other hand, refers to an online advertising platform in which the advertiser only pays when a qualified user clicks on his or her ad (e.g. Google Adwords or Bing Ads).


Conversion Rates

While there are always exceptions to this rule, you’ll generally find PPC marketing to yield a higher conversion rate when compared to SEO. According to an article published by Moz, PPC ads are 1.5x more likely to convert than organic, non-paid search listings. This is presumably due to the fact that PPC landing pages can be optimized by the advertiser for a higher conversion rate.



Paid search listings may yield a higher conversion rate, but organic listings tend to deliver more clicks. Studies have shown that organic listings receive approximately 8.5x more clicks than PPC listings, which is pretty impressive to say the least.


But wait just one second… there are a lot of studies out there and the stats I just mentioned above don’t necessarily paint a complete or very timely picture. Even as early as 2012 Google Reported Paid search ads outnumber clicks on organic listings for commercial keywords 2:1.


That was back in 2012, imagine how much the search landscape has changed since then. In fact, just recently Google dropped their right side ads all together, but added a fourth ad to the top of the page. Go ahead and do a Google search now and let me know if you see any organic listings.


If there is no right-hand column, almost half of people (45.5%) can’t tell the difference between organic and paid search results. (SEO Book)


But there’s also the issue of cost when comparing PPC marketing to SEO. You’ll need at least some monetary investment in order to advertise your products on services on PPC networks like Google Adwords. Granted, the investment is usually minimal, with most platforms charging less than $0.50 cents per click. Assuming you use PPC to drive hundreds or thousands of new visits to your site each day, though, those costs can quickly add up. SEO, however, is virtually free, making it the preferred choice for budget-conscious business owners and marketers. However, I should elaborate on ‘virtually free’; what I mean by that is a massive amount of time and effort if you do it yourself. (See my recent post, 5 No Cost Ways to Promote Your Website and Why They’ll End Up Costing You).



The only real downside to relying strictly on SEO is that there’s no guarantee of success. You can invest countless hours of work (and money/resources) into optimizing your website for higher rankings, only to remain in place. By investing in PPC, you are guaranteed to achieve top listings, as long your max bid is high enough and you have a decent Quality Score.


SEO can certainly bring long-term benefits, but PPC provides immediate coverage for qualified terms with scalable control over impression share. Because of this many Ecommerce store owners are opting to build initial traffic through paid campaigns while waiting to reap benefits on organic. Why not? This is actually the perfect way to test for a successful SEO strategy. By using Google AdWords you can estimate the dollar-worth of an SEO campaign. If you can make a profit on keywords in PPC, you then work at ranking for these through SEO. You don’t even have to profit. A return can be enough to validate your efforts at ranking high for a search term. Find out how to triple your return on seo using Adwords, here.