When you're a business owner looking to generate more traffic to your site, how do you make sure your potential customers visit your company page instead of a competitors? The two most popular ways of driving more traffic to a website are SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click). "But which one do I incorporate into my marketing strategy?!" we hear you ask - the answer to this question is: it all depends on your goals.
These two options allow you to either A. start growing traffic to your site almost instantly but lose said traffic as soon as your budget runs out, or B. focus your efforts on an SEO approach that sees greater, organic traffic but takes a long time to see results, which may leave your boss with questions for you.
We're an advocate for SEO and have plenty of useful reads on what to look out for when hiring an agency and how to dominate the local scene, but we also know that PPC is needed when running campaigns. However, deciding between the two comes down to:
1. Understanding your prospective customers (if you haven't got buyer personas yet then stop reading RIGHT NOW and make some, buddy!) and
2. Determining whether paid, organic or a sweet combo of the two is best for your business.
Remember, both of these strategies come with pros and cons, and it is down to you to decide which outweighs the other for your business efforts. To help you along the way to greatness, we've compiled the pros and cons of SEO and PPC to help you answer 'Which Is The Silver Bullet?'.
What is SEO?
- Search Engine Optimisation is the process of maximising your website’s visibility in the organic search results on search engines like Google or Bing.
- Following SEO best practices will help your site rise in the search rankings for relevant search terms, usually with the implicit goal of gaining more visitors from organic search.
What is PPC?
- PPC or “Pay Per Click” involves paying for traffic via Google Adwords, Bing Adwords, Facebook Advertising or similar.
- This involves bidding in an auction for visibility of your Ad in search results for search terms of your choice.
- You are usually charged on a “per click” basis, and the price of a click varies dependent on how popular the search is, how relevant your website is to the topic and how many others are bidding on that term.
Why would SEO win?
1. Your efforts shall be repayed
- SEO best practices are often pretty much website and customer journey best practices. These things pay dividends in areas other than organic search.
- A steady, predictable flow of fresh organic visitors is a long term investment will pay for itself many times over the period of years and years. All of the effort you make now is cumulative.
- People always ask, ‘But Jon, how do Noisy Little Monkey rank so well?’ and it’s because we’ve been doing it for 10 years (and really well).
2. You get more for your money
- Good SEO agencies will give you good advice and will also try and look at the bigger picture
3. You'll receive human recommendations
- Outreach required as part of SEO will make you visible in other ways - if you’re reaching out to people in your industry (influencers, trade press, national press etc) that’s good for overall profitability, as they’re much more likely to refer you business.
- Visibility in different publications and at events drives traffic itself, gets brand awareness and over time the cumulative affect of the links is that your page ranks better.
Why would SEO lose?
1. Unexpected algorithm changes
- Google will change its algorithms between 500-600 times a year
- Although most are minor, Google occasionally rolls out major algorithmic updates (Google Panda and Google Penguin)
- This means that sites that have been optimised to please the current Google algorithm can potentially lose rankings and profits practically overnight.
2. Reporting is hard. Justification is hard.
- Tracking the ROI of individual activities and tasks, or even whole campaigns can be very difficult: it’s hard to tie leads, sales and revenue to optimised page titles, links from bloggers and blog posts.
- It can be harder still to convince your bosses or your board that continuing to invest in SEO is the right thing to do, if you are seeing no increase in organic traffic after 3 months of activity.
3. SEO is a sloooooooooow burner
- SEO efforts are much like buying a house. When you buy a house, you’re in it for the long haul. It can take you a number of years until you own the house and can celebrate when you pay off your final mortgage payment.
- SEO is much the same – it’s a long journey. You need to be putting the effort in consistently before you start seeing results.
Why would PPC win?
1. You've got full control
- You can control the pages that people land on. You can dictate which landing page people should land on for a specific campaign.
- You can control the keywords you want to appear for. You can even use formulas to appear for certain keywords under certain conditions but not others.
- You can also control how much you spend because you can set a specific budget and know how much it’s going to cost.
2. Re-targeting and re-marketing
- You can use PPC to chase visitors to your website around the web and push those people who are about to convert to finally convert.
3. You'll see a spike in traffic almost immediately
- It doesn’t take long to set up a PPC campaign on Google AdWords, so you’ll start seeing traffic soon after.
- The results are almost instant and therefore can generate visitors early on in a site launch.
Why would PPC lose?
1. Shareholders always want bigger dividends
- The underlying goal for Google, Facebook etc. ‘Can we make the client spend more?’
- If you work for a PPC agency that turns over millions a year, then Google and Bing love your account manager. They’ll send you swag and give bonuses for making your clients spend more.
- If you’re trying to get better value for a client, driving their spend down while still getting the same number of sales, then your client will love you but you won’t get much praise from your boss or the platform you’re advertising on.
- What do you think most PPC executives might do given that choice?
2. It's just dead money
- PPC is great so long as you have a constant flow of money to throw at it. You could be receiving traffic almost instantly, and Google could be showing you on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPS).
- However, as soon as you stop paying money, you disappear. You’re essentially renting space on Google.
3. It's an auction, and more people are bidding
- More businesses are setting aside some of their marketing budget for PPC so the competition is only getting tougher.
- The price per click is always going to go up. So whatever you’re spending this year, you’re going to need to spend even more next year to get the same level of clicks through to the website, and conversions that turn into profit.