Find out the key differences between SEO and PPC and when is best to use them.
SEO and PPC are two complementary search marketing approaches that’ll (if used correctly) boost your organisation’s website traffic and boost conversions.
SEO refers to search engine optimisation, this is the technique used to improve the position and click through from organic search results. SEO requires marketers to adapt website content, make changes to source code and conduct offsite marketing to generate signals such as inbound links, shares and likes. SEO is a long-term strategy and is highly competitive. It can deliver an exceptional return on investment when a website ranks highly in search engine results pages (SERPs) for popular searched keywords and phrases.
PPC stands for pay per click advertising. This method also focuses on targeted keywords and phrases. These ads are positioned prominently in SERPS and campaigns can be set up extremely quickly. Marketers pay every time a visitor clicks their ad. It provides a quick way for organisations to get their brand on page one of search results.
In terms of investment and commitment, SEO and PPC differ. SEO is a long-term commitment to content marketing, technical improvements and extensive off-site marketing. There are no guarantees with SEO and results can fluctuate as competitor activity, changes to Google’s algorithms and customer behaviour all influence your campaigns. Success is measured over months or years.
Marketers can get a great response from PPC very quickly. Campaigns can be set up quickly and marketers can use a range of targeting options in almost real-time to refine the activity. The control marketers have in PPC is immense. The keyword targeting, bid strategy, ad copy and landing pages can all be amended quickly. Device, geographic and demographic targeting options enable marketers to be measured in their approach to campaign management.
Savvy marketers balance both tactics to maximise their return from Google search. Although the two tactics are very much separate in their execution, the shared learnings from both approaches can ensure a dominant position in search results for the phrases searched-for by key audience groups.
Once search engine rankings are achieved the traffic is free, unlike PPC. Organic listings get the majority of click through from search results, so SEO is a tactic to exploit if an organisation wants to gain market share. As well as an abundance of free visits, high organic rankings due to SEO also benefit the perception of any organisation. Research shows that consumers perceive the organisations that dominate organic rankings to be the leaders in their field.
Almost every organisation wants to be dominant in organic results. This means that competition is intense, and the rankings can be volatile. Google frequently changes the algorithm that influences search results, so this means that rankings can increase or decline immediately. The organisations that rank highly tend to be high profile due to the huge influence of authority in determining organic rankings. As this is gained by getting high quality, contextual back links from relevant sources this provides established names with an advantage. It can be hard for fledgling organisations to make an impact in SEO when they are competing with established websites that have been around, and gaining back links, for decades.
PPC ads enable marketers to gain the most exposure in search results as the ads are positioned above organic listings. You only pay if someone clicks, so PPC is a very measurable form of advertising. Marketers have total control over the keywords they advertise against, the ads that are displayed and the landing pages that users are directed to. The time of day, device, demographics and locations in which the ads are shown are all controlled. The cost per click and daily budgets can be capped.
For competitive phrases the cost per click bids can be very expensive. With only a small number of slots available this can make it difficult to gain traction. Bid price is only one factor that determines the position of PPC ads. Google uses historic metrics based on the quality of the campaign and the level of engagement from users, plus bid price, to determine the position of ads. This means that even huge organisations with massive budgets aren’t guaranteed the top slot. Effective campaign management and analysis of user behaviour after they click are essential to prevent spending budget on terms that don’t convert or blowing the daily budget at the wrong time of day.
SEO and PPC are the yin and yang of digital marketing strategy. PPC addresses highly targeted traffic that is paid for with each click; the more competitive the keyword, the higher cost per conversion. This is a great technique for organisations that want to run campaigns that have a specific audience demographic (i.e. an event that required targeting by location) and that can be paused as required.
With PPC, traffic stops without investment. SEO on the other hand holds its rankings and can deliver organic traffic for long periods of time. Together they make a powerful partnership for any organisation looking to attract high volumes of relevant traffic to their website.
50% of website visitors are more likely to click a result if the brand appears multiple times in SERPs. Reinforcing the power of this dynamic partnership. Other benefits include:
Achieving the best results from SEO and PPC isn’t straightforward without the right tools and expertise. If you don’t have the time to brush up on the latest changes to PPC best practise or SEO tools, get in touch. We have an award-winning search marketing team at Kagool that have helped a long list of enterprises to get the most out of their investment. Read our case study to learn how we used search techniques to increase Spaceslide’s sales by 74%.