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What’s the Difference Between PPC & SEO

When planning a digital marketing strategy for your business you’ll need to decide on your approach: PPC, SEO, or both? With the ever-increasing importance of digital marketing for small businesses, it’s critical that clients old and new are able to find you online. But the internet doesn’t always make it easy. No matter your industry there is sure to be a ton of competition online, even for small and local businesses. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are two of the main ways to get more customers to your website. 

Both PPC and SEO aim to get more people on your website from search engines like Google. However, the way they function, their cost, and their timeliness of results vary greatly. To help you make an informed decision on how to approach your digital marketing, we’ll dig into the differences between PPC and SEO and how to choose what is right for your business. 

What Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

PPC is a method of advertising where you pay for ads to show up in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) or social media feeds. Google ads are one of the most powerful tools for PPC advertising, but there are many different platforms you can use to create PPC ads, including Microsoft Ads (for Bing SERPs) and even social media advertising. For the purposes of this blog post, we will be focusing on Google Ads as it is one of the most commonly used PPC advertising platforms. 

A PPC ad campaign triggers your ad to be shown when a searcher uses specific keywords. When the search occurs, Google runs an instant auction to see which of the advertisers has the right combination of keywords, bids, and ad relevance. The winner shows up as number one in the SERPs. All of this happens within the millisecond that it takes for results to show up on Google after the user clicks “search”.

In the PPC model of advertising your business pays the platform (in this example, Google) every time the searcher clicks on the ad and lands on your website. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Pay Per Click Advertising?

Just like any other form of advertising, there are some amazing benefits, as well as some negatives to consider before starting PPC advertising. 

The number one best thing about PPC? You get nearly instant results. As long as your ad campaign is set up properly, you can start getting clicks to your website instantly. Another benefit is that you have complete control over your budget. You must determine how much your business is willing to spend on advertising for your business and set up your ads accordingly. Because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, PPC can have a great ROI for even a limited budget. 

On the negative side, effective PPC ads require some experience and strategy to set up. Furthermore, the programs are not always as user-friendly as you may expect. While most platforms, including Google, offer free classes to learn how to use their advertising platform, they take time to complete.  That time expenditure may not be an option for many small business owners. Another negative is that there can be high competition for keywords. The price of each click depends on the budgets of other companies bidding in your keyword auction. Popular keywords and more expensive products or services tend to have a fairly high price tag for just one click. Without the budget to back you up, you won’t be able to compete and get the top spot on Google for highly competitive keywords. 

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization is a set of practices to make your website as perfect as possible in the eyes of your search engine. Generally speaking, search engines try to base their ranking criteria on what works best for their users. SEO helps your website to rank higher in the SERPs which increases your visibility and gets more people to your website. SEO doesn’t use an advertising platform like PPC ads, instead, you make changes to your own website in order to give Google the information they need to show your website to the right users. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of SEO?

SEO can be an amazing tool for your business but it also has some drawbacks to consider.

On the plus side, once you build your website strength you don’t tend to lose it. This means once your website is ranking high on the SERPs you tend to stay there. You will likely need some maintenance over time, and this increases if you have competitors with an aggressive SEO strategy. Plus, once you start building your reputation as a trustworthy website, your business benefits in the long run. 

Neither a pro nor a con, you don’t need to pay for SEO clicks. When someone reaches your website organically (that is not through an ad) Google doesn’t make you pay for that click. However, that doesn’t make SEO free. SEO is a time-consuming exercise and your time is valuable! While well-executed SEO is a profitable investment, it’s not free. 

On the negative side, it can take quite a bit of time to see results from SEO. Unlike PPC, which gets instant results, SEO can take months or more to make a big difference to your website traffic. Why does it take so long? SEO can be time-consuming because it is multifaceted and because Google can take a while to “read” your website and understand what questions your website answers. In a nutshell, SEO involves: 

  • Staying up to date on Google’s organic algorithm. 
  • Identifying keywords for which your website can rank, and creating optimized content that is valuable to searchers. 
  • Sourcing backlinks for your website from reputable sources.
  • Optimizing your website for speed and implementing code that follows the industry’s best practices.
  • Building your business’ reputation through local SEO best practices

How To Choose The Right Digital Marketing Strategy For Your Business

With a better understanding of the difference between PPC and SEO – how do you determine the right approach for your business? There are a few significant aspects you need to consider:

  • What Is Your Budget? Take a look at your marketing budget.  How much of it can you spend on digital marketing? PPC ads can easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each month and you’ll need to invest time or money to manage them effectively. With that in mind, what is a comfortable budget? If the answer is “as little as possible”, PPC ads may simply not be possible depending on competition and the cost of your keywords. 
  • When Do You Need Results? If you need results yesterday, you need to opt for PPC advertising. Remember, SEO can take months or more to see noticeable results. 
  • How Much Time Do You Have To Spend? You’re running a small business, how much time do you have to spend on learning a new advertising platform, or learning how to do SEO? What does your skillset lend naturally to doing? PPC will require more number crunching along with writing persuasive ads, and SEO requires writing more long-form content and learning about website improvements. 
  • Do you have the budget to hire an agency? As with most things in business, it’s usually most cost-effective to bring in an expert for niche skills such as PPC and SEO. An experienced digital marketing agency should be able to produce leads that bring a return on your investment. 

The Best Of Both Worlds

In an ideal world, every brand would use both SEO and PPC to boost their business. The two work hand in hand! SEO ensures your website is as strong as possible and highly relevant in the eyes of Google. This in turn helps you perform better in PPC auctions by making your website highly relevant to the person’s search. Furthermore, PPC helps instantly get more traffic to your website. This increases leads for your business while you take the time for your SEO strategy to generate more organic traffic. 

Get Digital Marketing Help

Need help deciding between PPC and SEO? We’re here to help! Get Online NOLA’s team is well-versed in digital marketing and can help you decide what is best for your business. We offer both PPC and SEO services to boost your business. Get in touch to set up a free strategy session for more information.

When deciding between PPC advertising and SEO for your small business, you need to evaluate your goals, budget, and timeline. While PPC offers immediate visibility and control over costs, SEO provides sustainable organic traffic and long-term brand authority. For more information about how Get Online NOLA can help you shine online, click the button below!

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