Blog Insight

PPC vs. SEO: See what wins for your brand.

Including search in a marketing strategy seems like a good idea, but understanding how to use organic search (search engine optimization [SEO]) and paid search (pay per click [PPC]) can be frustrating. Going down one path based on high-level assumptions can leave marketers with inconclusive results and sour teams on what should be a critical component of their overall strategy. Here are some tips on how to make thoughtful decisions about search that are specific to your needs.

We’ve all heard that the click-through rate (CTR) of organic listings is nearly 20 times that of paid ads. Organic search delivers more volume at a lower cost per lead than paid search. But this isn’t the only point to consider when planning your search strategy.

SEO Considerations

  • Simply managing terms that are associated with your brand will yield positive results with no spend.
    • Finding your brand reflected in search results that are organic can influence credibility for your brand in a way that paid advertising might not.
    • Organic search is sustainable and can support the brand when spending on other channels needs to be reduced.
    • In most cases, you will get more clicks over time from a highly placed organic ad than you will from a paid ad. SEO can take longer than PPC to ramp up and may require more management for optimization.
  • SEO requires attention and resources for success.
    • There’s no getting around the fact that SEO takes time to get to a place where you can see and share the results. Expectations should be set accordingly.
  • Results from SEO are influenced by the content on your website.
    • Making your site relevant and valuable is an investment, but it cannot be overlooked if you want strong results from SEO.

PPC Considerations

  • Paying for ads will always get your brand higher on the page, which is of special importance when audiences are more likely to search on mobile devices.
  • You're able to target your audience in a variety of ways to quickly reach a more qualified audience than you’re able to target with SEO alone.
  • The specifications for paid ads allow you to have more flexibility in how you communicate your messages, and they even allow images.
  • One of the biggest benefits of PPC is that campaigns can ramp up quickly.

PPC advertising will provide you with data that you cannot get with SEO. Because PPC is more like a typical advertising program, you can expect to learn about audience characteristics and preferences when you are paying for ad space. This data can be used to inform and improve your SEO program. PPC also allows you to easily test messaging, landing pages, and other components of larger media campaigns. Whatever your blend of strategies is, resourcing will be a factor. Generally, using costs as the only decision input for going with SEO can be a misstep when you consider the resourcing required for a solid program.

As a component of an overall marketing strategy, the best approach is to carefully consider both SEO and PPC in some combination depending on your objectives and larger media plan. How you balance SEO and PPC will depend on your offer, your website, your audience, your budget, and your objectives.