To PPC, or to SEO, that is the question.

PPC and SEO are both forms of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). In an earlier issue we discussed the importance of SEM in growing your business. If your marketing budget allows it then I highly recommend investing in both. The question is what if you can only choose one.  Which form of SEM is the right one for you business. The answer to this question is directly related to your marketing goals as we shall see. So… to PPC or to SEO?

Quick Recap:

PPC, Pay Per Click, is paying to have your ad show up when people search keywords of your choice. You only pay if the person clicks on your ad, hence the name pay per click.

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing a website to increase visibility on search engines, such as Google, for keywords that you want to target for your business. Clicks are “organic” and are totally free.


You’re probably thinking, “Why would I want to pay for clicks with PPC if I can get free clicks with SEO?” Great question! Let’s have a look at some of the reasons that make PPC better than SEO. Also bear in mind that although the actual clicks are free there are many costs to SEO such as time or outsourcing.

1)Takes time – SEO, even if done well, takes a very long time. Several months can go by before your website even starts ranking well at all. As opposed to PPC where your ads can be up and running sometimes even within a day. If your marketing goals are to quickly get traffic to your website then PPC is the choice for you. If you are looking to invest in building a long term marketing strategy then SEO could be the better choice.

2)Might not work – Nothing is guaranteed in SEO. Several months can go by and there is a chance that your site won’t rank well at all. Zero clicks will come from any SEO effort put into your site. This can’t possibly happen with PPC since you only pay per click. The marketing goals that would help you decide are similar to the first reason. If you need the traffic then PPC is the winner. However, if you are investing for the future then SEO is where your money should be. Just like all investments, there is risk. The hope is that the reward will be well worth it.

3)Limited keyword selection – A webpage can only rank well organically for several keywords at a time. There are only so many possible keywords for one webpage to be relevant to. On the other hand, with PPC there is essentially no limit to how many keywords you can target. If your industry has many different ways of saying the same thing then it could be very difficult to rank for all those variations and PPC would be the better choice.

4)Might not be profitable – Even if you do get your website to rank well, the traffic might not be good traffic. People are using your site to learn about your industry and then they convert on another website. It is a shame to see all that hard work in ranking the site just go to waste when the traffic is not converting. Since PPC can just about instantly get traffic for any keyword, you can quickly tell which keywords work and which don’t. You can then adjust your campaigns accordingly. This also ties into whether or not your industry has many variations. If yes, then testing through PPC to see which ones work better is the right choice.

The overall theme here is that PPC gives you quicker results while SEO is a long term investment. Quick results can be measured and improved right away which can potentially lead to profits in your pocket quickly. Long term investment can potentially lead to lots of profit in the future.

A solution that I generally recommend, which works for most businesses, is to start with PPC and then add on SEO. As we have seen, each of these has their own advantages and disadvantages. Working together they can help to support each other and work in harmony in your overall marketing strategy. Starting with PPC will give you quick traffic that can be analyzed to find what is working and what does not. Once profitable targets are found you can use these for your goals in SEO. Instead of just guessing which keywords to rank for you can see from PPC which are the good ones. Plus, the profits from PPC can be reinvested into SEO which now alleviates the risk of coming from your own pocket.

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