SEO vs. PPC: Which Marketing Strategy Would Benefit Your Business?

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The challenge of starting your own business is like climbing a mountain, and it would be great if that were the only mountain on your path to success. 

Once your business is up and running, growth becomes the primary goal. Even before the internet took over, the success rate of new businesses wasn’t overly great. And now that opening a new business doesn’t even require a storefront, the competition and challenges have only increased as new companies try to fight through the digital noise to reach new customers.

Sometimes, it can feel like trying to foster growth is like hiking an entire mountain range.

There are two ways to draw new prospects and customers to your website and business: Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC).

While each of them can help you, deciding which strategy will deliver your business the best return is merely a hill once you know the benefits and differences of both.

Using Questions to Build Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Small business marketing can look like throwing a bunch of ideas and content at the wall, then analyzing what stuck and what didn’t

That sort of organized chaos can waste valuable capital — small businesses should instead be intentional with how they build their marketing strategies. Then they can weather any mistakes and change plans as needed. If you’ve never built a marketing strategy before, it’s not as challenging as it sounds, and there are plenty of quality guides to help you.

If you are ready to take it on, one place to start is by talking to yourself. 

No, seriously, you’re not going crazy. You need to ask yourself questions. And you’ll need to answer yourself, too. These questions should inform your decisions about how you want to draw in new customers. 

When it comes to choosing between SEO and PPC, ask yourself: How much budget do I have for this? 

SEO can be more time-consuming but less expensive, whereas PPC can give you more direct results at a higher cost. Start broad by finding answers for factors like what the Google results pages look like for your company’s line of business and how much clicks cost in your industry. 

Questions will help you gain insight into your competition and your marketplace, as well as how the resources you have available can help meet your short and long-term company goals.

How to Know If Pay Per Click Is Right for You?

PPC is a great tool, but it can be a little confusing when you’re getting started with it. 

Essentially, PPC means that advertisers buy ad space on search engines like Google Ads or Bing, and every time a user clicks on the ad – the advertiser pays a fee to the search engine. 

While it does feel like pay to play, especially when compared to SEO’s organic search results goal, the benefit of PPC for small businesses is how it can help a company cut through the marketplace, especially if your line of business is in a crowded and popular industry. One obvious benefit is that PPC ads appear before above any search results granting you at least the first opportunity to be clicked. 

PPC is designed to drive prospects further down in the funnel directly to your chosen targeted pages. This generally means they are already interested in your specific product, solution, or service and are willing to go further, perhaps even ready to buy. Because of this direct targeting strategy, PPC delivers faster results to companies. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of PPC

With both SEO and PPC, there are pros and cons to consider. While PPC has some exciting positives, the downsides of using it shouldn’t be ignored in the decision-making process.

The Top 3 Benefits

  • Control — You write the ad, decide where it will go and for how long. The success isn’t left to the partial mystery that is search engine algorithms.
  • Easily Measurable Results — There’s no guesswork in tracking PPC campaigns. Keywords, click-through rates, performance ratings on ads are all presented clean and directly for you to analyze.
  • Fast Results — PPC campaigns are placed with search engine results that are relevant to your business, so users a more likely to click on them. You can see an uptick in site visitors in as little as a few days.

The 3 Most Concerning Disadvantages

  • Hard to Learn — PPC campaigns require a solid understanding of metrics, as well as an understanding of your company’s industry and its trends. The learning curve can be steep and may not be best for beginning marketers.
  • Costly — There are ongoing costs just to launch PPC campaigns. Especially at the start of campaigns, when targeting and placement might not be as assured, it can take a little time for the ROI in terms of sales.
  • Decreasing Returns Over Time — The are more and more advertisers taking advantage of PPCs which is translating into higher costs. More so, users are showing signs of clicking less and less frequently on ads on Google search pages. Your ROI may go down drastically over time.

You Can Make Money with PPC Twice

We’ve already looked at how the more targeted traffic from PPC campaigns can lead to more sales, but there is another way you can make money from PPC. 

Once your website starts receiving all that increased traffic from your own PPC ads, you can join advertising networks like Google AdSense and start showing PPC ads on your website. Depending on your industry and your site traffic, you can create a decent additional revenue stream. 

Ultimately, the pay-per-click process is beginner-friendly since it doesn’t require any targeting or metrics, and there’s no hard work involved on your end. However, its success is partially dependent on your success. 

More visitors to your page matched with more relevant ads can be profitable, but it most likely isn’t going to break the bank in terms of how much consistent money it brings in. PPC campaigns also require a lot of site traffic to really move the needle towards the black.

Exploring the Benefits of SEO for Small Business

Asking yourself those questions about your growth goals in the long and short term is key to determining if SEO is the best strategy for you. 

SEO is more time-consuming initially and delivers far less guaranteed results in the short term. However, in the investment of time over money – it wins out. 

The return on investment for SEO has the potential to be greater over the long term because it forces you to continuously be keenly aware of your customer base, their wants and needs, and provides you insight on how to scale up with them.

The 3 Top Advantages of SEO

  • Cheaper — SEO doesn’t require you to purchase anything. It’s a time investment, and it takes skill and hours to become great at it. But it is basically free of charge, which makes it a great way to get your marketing strategy started sooner.
  • Better Customer Reach — SEO allows you to target your keywords at different stages in the customer journey. You can aim your keywords to capture new prospects with whom there is a lot of work to get to a sale in addition to targeting those further down the funnel, those ready to spend, because you know your customers’ wants.
  • Brand Authority — PPC can deliver a quick jolt of new traffic, but because SEO requires a deeper connection to your customers, the relationships it builds are organic. Organic customers build better loyalty, which in turn builds more brand recognition to prospects and search engines.

The 3 Most Concerning Downsides of SEO

  • Time — As we mentioned, SEO takes time. Time to build accurate keywords, to build loyalty among customers, and to build authority for the search engine algorithms.
  • Unplanned Change — The algorithms search engines like Google use may not always change significantly, but they do change. And when they do, you have to change your keyword expressions and perhaps even your approach to deploying those keywords. 
  • Frequent Updates — SEO is dependent on the customer, the person putting the keywords into Google and seeking an answer. What people want, how they search for it, what turns them off from particular results are subject to whim. So, you’ll have to optimize your site often to ensure you’re capturing everything you intend with your keywords.

When it comes to SEO, it can feel like you are in a battle between search terms vs. search keywords. What the people want vs. what you’re targeting them with. 

It’s an ebb and flow that takes some expertise to master but, when deployed expertly, can deliver long-term benefits at little cost. And while SEO can be an inexact science, there are some excellent SEO deployment guides that can help you get results. 

3 Clever Ways to Benefit From Both PPC and SEO

There are many decisions you’ll make as your company grows. 

Some are more permanent, and others require little decision at all. Marketing strategy isn’t a permanent decision. And just because SEO and PPC represent two very different camps in the field, it doesn’t mean you have to be mutually exclusive with either one. 

When it comes to marketing strategy, you don’t have to put a ring on it. There are ways to make both SEO and PPC work together for your line of business. Blending the two can maximize the benefits that each offers while limiting some of the potential downsides that come with committing to one of them. 

You’re already an expert on your business, and having more knowledge about different marketing strategies can only help your brand make a bigger impact. The better you understand SEO and PPC, the more effectively you can tailor their benefits to your needs.

1. Organic Retargeting  

Your usage of keywords brought a customer to your site via SEO. They clicked around a product page or explored your pricing information but never made a purchase. You can then buy retargeting ads (PPC) to market to people who previously visited your site to perhaps further entice them or promote a sale on a product they looked at.

2. Social Media Promotion

We’ve discussed how one of SEO’s primary benefits is that coveted organic traffic, but there’s no reason you can’t give it a little nudge. Use social media to promote content on your site, not just deals and services. 

You can use PPC social media ads to highlight relevant and topical blog content to boost traffic, which can lead to growth across SEO identifiers like brand loyalty and quality content that help increase search page rankings.

3. Analyze PPC to Improve SEO

The analytics you have at your disposal when using PPC are incredible. The volume of data on views, click-throughs, and competitor keywords, among other data points, can be more for you than just defining a campaign’s success. 

You can zero in on elements of that data to better understand visitors and customers alike, which will help you create better and more effective keywords for your SEO as you do. 

These examples only scratch the surface of how SEO and PPC can live in harmony. The more experience you build with deploying each of the two marketing strategies, the more ways you will discover for them to work symbiotically for your company.

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