An argument as old as time. Well at least as 17 years old, from the dawn of time when Google introduced AdWords in 2000. Every marketer has an opinion as to what’s better for driving leads and sales from a website? Pay per click (PPC) or free search engine traffic? The truth is each has its pluses and minuses. This article outlines when to use each.
When to Use PPC
PPC is great if you want instant results. Think of PPC as an operating expense. Basically the more you spend the more traffic and leads you are likely to generate. PPC is great if you have a new site and want to get results straight away. There is no waiting in PPC, if you want customers to click for the term “Fitness Holidays” you can get clicks straight away.
The problem with PPC is it’s a paid service. If you’re in a highly competitive niche you can be paying a lot per click. For example for the phrase “Personal Injury Lawyer” has a cost per click of $64.38 if you were to bid in Perth. If you have a low advertising budget this may rule out PPC. To make sure you are getting the best value out of the clicks sometimes it’s best to hire a marketing company that provides a professional PPC service. PPC is also prone to a higher ignore factor compared to organic listings and even being blocked all together through the use of ad blockers.
When to Use SEO
SEO is great when you are trying to build value into your website. Think of SEO as a capital expense. Rankings in the organic listing have real value, and although not 100% stable potentially they’re there for good. As oppose to PPC rankings that disappear as soon as you stop paying. The problem with SEO is takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Don’t expect to rank in search straight away. Initially a brand new website may not even rank for branded search terms. To rank in SEO you need to invest in constant improvement of your website, it’s content and it’s mentions on the web both in links and social networks.
Other than the amount of time and effort it takes to rank, SEO has some other issues. SEO is never guaranteed. Like PPC it depends on how competitive your niche is. Furthermore if you do manage to rank your site one google algorithm update may potentially undo all that hard work!
Why Not Use Both?
Of course you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. A good overall strategy is to spend some of your budget on PPC to keep cash flow strong. Then invest time and money into SEO to grow your long term web presence. That way you get the best of both worlds. You are also protected from the pitfalls of each. If your SEO rankings drop due to an algorithm change you still have your PPC traffic to fall back on. Likewise through your SEO rankings you’re still reaching customers who ignore ads or use ad blockers.