SEO or PPC, which strategy is better?
12 minutes reading
You have a fantastic website. Good job! Your content is outstanding, your visuals stunning, and your hosting, thanks to HostArmada, is fast, secure, and reliable. You have every ingredient to have, not just a standard web page but a true social hub where people interested in your products or services gather to gain knowledge, find helpful information, and ultimately ask for your help. So, now all you have to do is spread the word.
There are two main ways to go about this task, each with specific positive and negative aspects. We are talking, of course, about SEO and PPC. Are you wondering which one will work better for you? Let’s have a look together.
What are the differences between SEO and PPC
There are many differences between Search Engine Optimization, better known as SEO, and Pay-Per-Click campaigns, also known as PPC. The main one, of course, is that PPC is paid, as the name suggests. PPC is part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), through which you pay for your placement on top of the SERP results instead of optimizing and competing with other websites. Most importantly, you get to go on top at a moment’s notice, while SEO usually takes between 3-6 months for the optimization to work.
Naturally, PPC is quite popular among companies, as in 2022, estimates show that companies have spent more than $164.6 billion on such ads. But, of course, such colossal investments wouldn’t be made if PPC didn’t work. In fact, it works astonishingly well, as experts suggest that every 1 dollar spent on a PPC campaign will bring $2 in return. This is a deal hardly anyone can refuse.
Conversely, SEO is the organic way to invite users to your website through optimized content, webpage, and meta descriptions. Search engine optimization is nothing short of the main pillar behind your free traffic. With 81% of people using search engines before purchasing a product or a service, SEO is not something you can just replace. Being on top of Google’s SERP list, you will get 27.6% of all clicks on the search engine.
The main difference between SEO and PPC is that in SEO, you don’t pay the search engine to get listed, but that doesn’t mean it is free. In fact, a good SEO campaign can be pretty costly if you strive to make it right. That might sound discouraging, but on a positive note, you will receive 94% more clicks than you get through PPC.
As it has become evident, there are a lot of benefits and downsides to both. So let’s get a bit more in-depth look at the positives and negatives of both strategies.
Why invest in SEO
There are many benefits to good old-fashioned SEO, and we’ve discussed them in length in several of our SEO-related blog posts. Today, however, we will focus on the most important benefits SEO brings to your website.
Outstanding click-through rate
Here we must put one very important asterisk. SEO is beneficial only when it’s done correctly. This means, at the bare minimum, you will have to get to Google’s first page since only 0.63% of Google searches receive a click on the second page. However, if you manage to get on Google’s top page and even in the top three spots, you can enjoy one astounding CTR rate. With 53% of website traffic coming from organic search and 92% of all organic traffic worldwide coming from Google, there is really no alternative to this source. Even more so when we consider that around 14.6% of SEO leads end up converting, the high SEO click rate is even more beneficial to your business.
Naturally, the CTR depends on the industry, but on average, you can expect 27.6% of all clicks in Google if you manage to earn the first position in Google for a particular keyword. Each position down will lead to a 32.3% drop in clicks, so being higher in the SERP guarantees better CTR and better results.
Irreplaceable at the top of the funnel
All stats above show that SEO is irreplaceable when looking for a cold audience at the top of the marketing funnel. Yes, SEO works wonders in all parts of the funnel, but by far, it is most efficient at the very top, where people have a problem and are looking online for a solution. If you invest in SEO, you can be the first solution they will get, and you will set the baseline for how they will look for an answer. This gives you an incredible advantage, and it’s not surprising that nearly 15% of SEO leads end up purchasing.
Better Long-term ROI
Good SEO takes time to be optimized and to see results. Still, once you manage to adjust your website just right, your returns will be immense. Moreover, if you have the time and knowledge, you can make your SEO practically without ever spending money. Optimizing your website costs only as much as you are willing to pay experts to make it work. So, while in the short-term, this investment won’t even cover itself, in the long run, you can be sure you will get one truly inspiring ROI.
More stable traffic
That’s actually SEO’s primary job. If you manage to get to the search engine’s top spot, you will have a constant flow of fresh users, something that no paid campaign can generate. This will naturally enlarge your audience and will supply you with new batches of cold users whom you can try to push down the funnel.
Boosts website authority
Without a doubt, the most significant side-effect of being on top of the Google SERP is the authority you receive in your industry and as a whole in the community. It stands to reason that you are trustworthy and reliable if people are interested in your solutions and your opinion on some problems. That alone may contribute to your sales influx.
What does SEO lack?
Naturally, SEO has some shortcomings. They are mainly related to the time it takes to show results. While those are definitely not enough to overshadow all the benefits, we need to mention a few downsides to SEO
Higher initial investment
While SEO is generally free, you need to be an SEO specialist to extract benefits from your SEO campaign. Even so, it would take you a lot of time to prepare, as SEO needs fresh content, optimization, and a bunch of minor tweaks every now and then. However, if you outsource SEO or hire a dedicated team, you will need to invest much more than a paid campaign. Still, after the initial investment, there are rarely any additional costs, so a good SEO campaign will end up profitable in the long run.
It needs a lot of resources.
Managing your SEO can truly be overwhelming. It takes a lot of time to optimize, even if you are an expert. Keyword research, preparing content, and optimizing your website to the search engine standards will have to allocate some resources like workforce, time, and infrastructure.
Long wait for results
Despite the high initial cost, you will have results no-less than a few weeks up to a few months after you make your optimization. This means that if you made a mistake or haven’t chosen the right keywords, you will learn about them in several months. Moreover, after the fixes, you will have to wait some additional time to see that you finally made everything correct. The wait is due to the enormous load Google crawlers have, and despite working with the best AI one can even think of, it needs time to process all the data it receives.
Requires a high level of expertise
When it comes to SEO, the learning curve is not just steep. It’s more like a vertical. It’s quite tough to learn everything there is to know about search engine optimization. You can’t just watch some videos online and think you are ready to take on your SEO entirely on your own. Becoming an SEO specialist takes a lot of time and hard work. So if you are not prepared to dedicate time and energy to learning about SEO, your best bet is to hire a professional to take over.
Google often changes its algorithm
While it’s true that once you optimize your SEO, you are practically set for life, you still need to tweak it from time to time. For example, Google makes at least 500-600 updates to its algorithm annually. They are often simple bug fixes, but at least four times a year, there are some significant changes. Now, if you have built your SEO based on user experience and not to please crawlers, there will rarely be any significant changes that will harm your SEO results. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow what’s changing closely and make regular SEO audits.
Why give PPC a chance?
PPC is the solution for anyone who has little knowledge of SEO. Naturally, that’s not the perfect solution, but if you want to get results fast and gain data on which to base your marketing decisions, PPC can definitely provide. Here are the key benefits of this marketing strategy.
PPC is easy and fast
PPC is an outstanding alternative to SEO if you want fast results with a relatively short preparation time. In general, PPC is invaluable for new small businesses that don’t have data, can’t afford to waste time waiting for SEO to work, and can’t allocate the resources needed to prepare a genuinely good SEO campaign. PPC is an easier and faster alternative that needs basic knowledge on preparing campaigns and can be quickly learned from online courses. Most importantly, the results come instantly, so if you’ve made a mistake, you will know the same day, not in 2 months.
Lower initial investment
Moreover, the initial investment is significantly lower compared to an SEO campaign. Yes, you will need to pay for every click you receive, but you can easily prepare the infrastructure yourself, and more importantly, you pay only when you get a lead. So even if you have messed up somewhere, in the worst-case scenario, you won’t pay if no one is visiting your webpage.
PPC is most powerful in the lower layers of your marketing funnel, and naturally, the targeting there is much more precise. This means that while your CTR won’t be as good as it will be in a good SEO campaign, your conversion rate will be better, as well as your CPA.
PPC is invaluable if you don’t have data and need to acquire it quickly. Yes, you will need to invest some money in different tests, but ultimately you can consider this spend as “buying data.” That’s crucial for making informed decisions, especially when planning budgets and marketing strategies. The best part is that you will need 3-5 days to collect data, not months.
Allows A/B testing
Naturally, this unlocks some golden opportunities for A/B testing. Actually, nothing is better for A/B testing than PPC. If you need to gather some information on how good your creative, landing page, product, or targeted audience is, you can have the results in days.
You get to be on top
The most significant benefit, however, is that you won’t have to wait to get on top of the search results in search engines. Instead, you can just pay your way to the top, and while you will still need some SEO optimization to beat other players when it comes to PPC, the more you pay, the better position you will get. Yes, you will get the “Sponsored” tag, but you will still be the first to show up in front of the users.
What are PPC’s downsides?
Naturally, PPC also has some downsides, which we must share. But, as you probably already guess, they are primarily regarding the price.
Higher accumulative prices
While the initial cost is not as high as you’d invest in an SEO, accumulatively, the price will skyrocket over time. If you rely on paid campaigns and receive leads only when you pay, naturally, the longer you are listed, the more expensive it will get. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t be profitable for you, but your overall ROI will be much worse than it would be through organic traffic.
It needs constant reinvestment
Naturally, if you pay for all your leads, you will constantly need to reinvest in your campaigns. Moreover, over time your creative and landing page will lose its appeal, so you will have to invest time and effort into creating a new one, making additional A/B testing, and so on. So if you are going all-in on a PPC strategy, you better have the budget to support this endeavor.
Lower profit margins
While PPC campaign conversion rates are outstanding, you will get much lower margins compared to organic traffic. That’s just how it works. If you pay for all your leads, you will have to pay a significant sum before you even get a single sale. In the end, your calculations may show you are making money, but generally, your margins will be much lower.
Unfortunately, PPC campaigns are suffering from a phenomenon called banner blindness. It characterizes people’s subconsciously skipping ads. This makes your ad practically invisible to a large audience. So naturally, with the “Sponsored” tag, PPC campaigns are prone to have the same fate. So it’s no wonder that only 6% of users would click on an ad, while 94% would skip the ads section altogether.
Another downside of PPC is its lifespan. More often than not, it is caused by others copying your successful campaigns, which will stop your ad from standing out. If you ever noticed that all ads in an industry are practically the same, it’s because of this phenomenon. So naturally, this will render your ad invisible, and you will have to find a new angle to present your product.
Is SEO or PPC better?
There is no conclusive answer to this question. Both are extremely helpful, and you should consider making them part of your overall strategy. Which one would be first depends entirely on your needs and preferences. If you need fast results, you have a small initial budget, and you need to make some quick sales without establishing a relationship with your customers, then a PPC campaign should be on top of your list.
On the other hand, if you have the time and budget and you are after a more stable income based on trust and overall regular numbers of leads in the long run, you should invest first in SEO.
Still, while both sound interchangeable, let’s make one thing clear – they are not. Even though they both aim to bring in leads, they operate on entirely different levels. SEO is more pointed toward the cold audience at the entrance of the funnel, while PPC campaigns are generally directed toward the bottom, where you will find warm and even hot users. So in practice, the question is not which one is better, as they serve in different ways, but rather which one you should invest in first. But no matter how you look at it, a good marketing strategy would allocate a budget for both.
Why is good hosting irreplaceable for both?
No matter which campaign comes forward in your digital marketing plan, you will need the basic infrastructure if you wish your campaign to be successful. Fast loading speed is the cornerstone behind this success, as a slow website is untrustworthy and leads to a greater bounce rate. A Portent research has shown that loading time is the element that most significantly impacts your conversion rate, as each second delay reduces your conversion rate by 5%. For example, if your landing page loads in 1 second or less, 39% of your leads will convert. You will get a 34% conversion rate if it loads in two seconds. By the third second, you’d have lost another 5% of your leads, and so on.
Moreover, website speed is an important factor in your SEO optimization. While Google denies that the landing page speed has anything to do with the website scoring, a slow website would lead to a much higher bounce rate. A high bounce rate leads to lower trust and, naturally, a lower position in the search engine results.
To avoid this problem, you will need a fast, secure, and stable hosting provider, and you won’t find a better solution than HostArmada. We pride ourselves in the lack of downtime our client experiences, and due to the cloud nature of our service, we guarantee high website load speed. We offer various plans that can accommodate any business niche. Check them out, and if you need help or advice on which one would fit your needs perfectly, don’t hesitate to contact our team.