Clients often ask us which is “better” – SEO (search engine optimization) or PPC (pay per click). The answer, however, isn’t usually cut and dry. Whether SEO or PPC can better help you reach your marketing goals depends a lot on your business. your current situation, your competition, and your overall objectives all play a role in deciding.

It helps to understand the similarities and differences between the two. It’s also important to remember that when either is done well, you can certainly reap the advantages of both of these digital marketing aids. You may even find that they work quite nicely together, as long as they are strategically aligned.

Let’s dive in to the internet age old debate of SEO versus PPC.

Pros and cons of SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the process of improving your site to increase its visibility for relevant searches. In other words, if someone searches “umbrellas” and your business sells them, you want to design your site so that the search engines find you and list your business high in the rankings.

Search engines like Google use bots to crawl pages on your website. Algorithms then analyze pages in the index and rank them (using a variety of different criteria) to determine the order pages should appear in the search results. So, the idea is to load your site with info that will boost you in the ratings.

Is SEO Cost Effective?

SEO can be very cost-effective. With SEO, so-called “organic traffic” is free, meaning there is not a direct charge for each click as there is with PPC. Furthermore, consistent visibility in search engines will increase awareness of your company and of your brand and, as such, your traffic will increase.

In addition, whereas pay-per-click is like a tap that you can turn on and off when desired, SEO provides consistent – though slower – results. You can’t turn it on and off but you can certainly enhance it by adding excellent content that ranks high with the search engines. So, whereas PPC is akin to a faucet with on and off handles, SEO is more like a reservoir that fills slowly with time. For many businesses, it’s worth the wait and is the way to go.

However, this may not be the right strategy for a business that’s just starting out or one that’s competing with much larger companies in the same field. A more rapid approach to nabbing traffic may be in order.

And, of course, SEO isn’t totally free. You will need to invest in the services of a solid website building company like Watershed9, with experts that can help you build useful and informative content that not only ranks high with search engines but also provides much needed info for potential and current customers.

Pros and cons of PPC

Because PPC is essentially an advertisement, you’ll tend to have more control over what the searcher sees and will have more space for delivering your message to those browsing for businesses like yours.

In addition, paid search gets the prime spot on the page in an area “above the fold”, as they say in the newspaper business. A user always sees the paid search ads first, usually with four such ads showing on your computer and three on your mobile device.

You’ll also have the advantage of opting for visual ads. For example, Google Adwords allows you to display a photo so that a potential client can see what they’ll be clicking on. While this might not matter to someone selling a service, it can be ideal for those who are selling products and can really up the click-through rate for those businesses.

PPC Targeting

Pay-per-click ads can be very targeted as well. For example, you can control the time of day or the day of the week an ad appears, as well as choose particular geographic locations for your advertisements. Organic traffic is a lot more random and may not reach the exact customers for which you’re aiming.

In addition, organic visibility takes a lot longer to develop so if you’d like quick results, paid advertising may be the answer.

Though a PPC account that’s well thought out doesn’t necessarily need to cost an arm and a leg, using paid advertising will likely be more costly than SEO, and a constant investment is required. Furthermore, bidding wars with other advertisers can drive up costs.

Overall, having a PPC expert on hand can help you avoid some of the pitfalls of paid advertising. The experts at Watershed9 can organize, manage, and optimize your ad campaign so that you’re getting the most for your advertising dollars.

So, what should I do?

Every business is unique. Upon examining yours, we might decide that SEO will work better than PPC or vice versa…or perhaps a combination of the two will be best for your goals. Given an opportunity to consult with you about your business and your marketing aims, we can draft a solution that will benefit your business, leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best.

For more information, call us at 604-337-1449.