SEO vs PPC: Which Should You Choose? Pros, Cons, and Statistics

Updated: April 19, 2022
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SEO vs PPC: Which Should You Choose? Pros, Cons, and Statistics
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If you’re introducing a new product or business, you must answer one of the most critical marketing questions: What will your digital marketing strategy look like?

If you have a background in marketing, you may already be able to answer this question, but many business owners don’t have knowledge or experience with digital marketing.

Two marketing strategies dominate digital marketing discussions: search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. SEO focuses on growing your business organically, while PPC uses paid advertising to reach consumers.

This article will explore SEO and PPC digital marketing strategies so you can make an informed decision.

We’ll look at SEO vs PPC in terms of pros, cons, and relevant statistics for each to help you decide which strategy best suits your situation and business goals.

We’ll also explore the possibilities of using these two digital marketing strategies together.

What Is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

When you type a query into a search engine like Google, you get a page of results. These pages are called search engine results pages (SERPs).

You’ll see paid ads at the tops of these pages with organic search results listed below.

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, aims to improve your website’s ranking among these organic search results so that your business will show up on the first page as a Top 10 result.

Most search engine users won’t navigate to the second page of organic listings, so higher rankings drive more website traffic. Marketing professionals integrate keyword strategies to optimise a website for high organic search rankings.

Consumers search keywords to find products and services. For example, the keyword term “HVAC services” will pull up heating and cooling companies local to the searcher.

A good SEO strategy focuses on creating content optimised for keywords that are (1) relevant to your business and (2) viable ranking opportunities. You may struggle to rank for keywords that are not relevant to your business or have highly competitive search volumes.

Because Google searches account for the vast majority of online searches in Australia, we will often reference Google by name but no other search engines.

Pros of SEO

An effective SEO campaign offers several benefits to new and current businesses. You will do the following when you drive traffic to your website pages through organic SEO.

Target Customers at Every Stage

Customers interact with businesses in stages. For example, a customer may visit a blog post to learn industry-relevant information, while another may already have a cart full of items they are ready to purchase.

Digital marketing through SEO allows you to target all these customers, not just those looking to purchase your products or services immediately. You can use several types of content to attract a variety of consumers.

Your SEO strategy may include service pages, blog posts, how-to guides, testimonials, case studies, photo galleries, press releases, and other types of content. This variety encourages customers to visit your website at all stages, thereby creating a comprehensive strategy that drives more organic traffic to your business.

Invest Less Money

When comparing SEO and PPC, SEO is typically a more affordable investment in the long term.

Organic listings don’t cost money like paid ads, and users are more likely to click on organic results, providing a good click-through rate.

Business owners may have higher upfront costs to cover SEO tools and software and pay employees or agencies, but long-term costs are minimal compared to PPC.

Grow Your Brand

A successful SEO strategy allows you to reach many potential customers passively. Every customer who sees your website listed among the organic results of a Google search gives you a boost of brand awareness, even if they click on another link.

The better your rankings, the more traffic the search engine will direct your way and the more customers it will introduce to your brand.

Grow Your Reputation and Authority

When your website ranks high in search engine results for several relevant keywords, customers will consider you a reputable industry authority. When customers recognise and trust a business, they are more likely to visit and return.

Google will also prioritise sites that provide searchers with expert-level, industry-focused content. Google wants to provide searchers with the best possible results, so high-quality pages with useful information will rank better.

Becoming a reputable industry expert also improves opportunities for relevant backlinks to your website, which helps rankings rise further.

Predict Organic Traffic

SEO drives organic traffic on a relatively stable level.

Whereas a PPC ad will disappear as soon as you deactivate it, SEO rankings rise and fall over time. You can use this increased stability to predict website traffic and subsequent sales.

You will also not see an immediate drop in traffic even if your SEO marketing team goes on a week-long vacation. Organic search results have the staying power to continue to bring you new leads.

Cons of SEO

No marketing strategy comes without some potential downsides. Let’s look at some cons of search engine optimisation.

Long-Term Commitment

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to create a well-optimised website and then leave it be. Successful SEO takes continued commitment for continued results.

Although organic search rankings won’t drop immediately if your website becomes stale, they will begin to drop steadily without the addition of new optimised and useful content. Long-term SEO strategies require someone to add new content to the site regularly because search engines like Google won’t prioritise sites that appear stagnant.

Creating new content all the time can be a very time-consuming task, which is why many businesses leave their SEO up to marketing professionals who have the necessary experience, resources, and time to commit.

Content Requirements

Search engines like Google won’t rank just any site. Many relevant websites exist for every keyword, but only 10 of them get listed on page one.

Successful content that ranks higher is quality-driven, expert-level, and utilises a thoughtful keyword strategy.

If you don’t have the time to learn and keep up with SEO best practices, you might consider hiring professional help. Marketing professionals know the ins and outs of website optimisation and other critical aspects of content marketing like technical SEO and link-building.

High Competition

Brand new businesses sometimes find it challenging to break into SEO because of the high competition. If you want to rank higher for a specific keyword but find yourself competing with an industry giant, ranking higher could prove very difficult.

For example, if you are an online retailer selling home decor, you may be competing with huge brands like Temple & Webster, Target, or Pottery Barn.

You’ll need clever SEO strategies to outrank these well-known competitors in organic search results.

Variable Algorithms From Search Engines

While you’ll find plenty of SEO classes out there, the task of learning SEO is never finished.

Best practices are in constant flux because search engine algorithms change every day. What was acceptable 20, five, or even two years ago may not be acceptable practice today.

If you want to raise your rankings, you must stay up-to-date on the latest news to ensure that your strategy doesn’t hurt your business instead of helping it.

Slow Results

While PPC ads show up immediately, driving organic traffic takes time. Many business owners expect quick results for SEO efforts, but your website probably won’t rise to the Google Top 10 after only a week of work.

SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy that builds up over weeks, months, and even years of consistent effort.

If you’re looking for a marketing solution that immediately shows your business within Google search results, PPC may be a better option.

What Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

Let’s go back to those search engine result pages (SERPs).

Remember the listings at the top of the page with “ad” written beside them? These are examples of pay-per-click advertising, also called PPC ads.

These paid search ads are called pay-per-click because the advertiser (you) pays a certain amount to the publisher (Google) for every customer who clicks on the ad.

Google offers a PPC advertising sales platform called Google Ads, but other websites like Facebook and Twitter also offer paid ad platforms.

PPC ad campaigns provide quick visibility by letting even small businesses compete in the congested online marketplace.

You don’t have to worry about how to rank higher organically when you use PPC digital marketing. Your ad will be visible to customers who fit your target audience.

Like SEO, paid search ads target specific keywords and consider competition within the strategy. The cost of your PPC campaign will depend in part on these factors.

Pros of PPC

Your new business can benefit quite a lot from PPC campaigns. When you invest in paid search advertising, you will see the following.

Get Fast Results

Successful PPC advertising can provide immediate results. You may even notice a rise in leads a couple of short hours after starting a paid search campaign.

As a new business owner who wants to improve traffic to your web pages, you don’t have to wait months for organic rankings to rise through SEO efforts.

A paid ad will attract new leads as soon as you post it.

Position Your Business Above Organic Search Results

Besides the possibility of immediate results, the clearest advantage of paid search marketing is the ad’s position above the SERP’s organic search results.

When your audience searches for the keyword your ad targets, they’ll see your business first, right at the top of the page.

Target Your Ideal Audience

SEO and PPC have many differences, and the demographics of the audiences they each target provide one of the most significant.

Whereas the reach of SEO is broad, a PPC campaign allows you to target a very specific group of consumers.

For example, if you own a small business in Brisbane, you can target your ads to show up under local searches for a better chance of reaching potential customers in your area.

You can also aim your paid search advertising at audiences of certain ages, interests, and other demographics. By targeting precise audience demographics, you create more opportunities to reach customers at the buying stage of the sales funnel.

Utilise a Variety of Ad Types

Paid advertising is incredibly versatile. Your PPC strategy may involve various ad types, including visual product ads, callouts, sales offers, and website links.

You have total control over your ad copy and the landing pages to which your ad directs your customers.

You might decide to use a PPC display ad to feature a popular product and a paid search ad to direct searchers to specific pages on your website.

A/B Test Your Google Ads

If you’re unsure what ad copy will perform best, you can create two similar ads for A/B testing.

Use this strategy to compare landing pages, product ads, calls to action, and more to learn which strategies perform well within your industry and which do not.

You can also use these comparisons to create SEO strategies based on real-life data. Once you know what kinds of methods work for your business, you can incorporate them into your SEO as well as your PPC.

Cons of PPC

Comparing SEO and PPC, you’ll find some cons to paid ads for search engine advertising.

High Cost and Consistent Investment

PPC ads cost money, and how much depends on several factors, including the targeted keyword’s volume and competition and the industry you’re in. Some paid ads only cost you cents per click, but others can cost as much as $40 for one click.

A properly set-up PPC advertising campaign will allow you to stay under budget, but you cannot continue to run PPC ads once you hit your budget limit.

Skill and Expertise Requirements

PPC advertising requires skill and knowledge to perform well. Google looks for specific paid search ad structures, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on current best practices.

Google ads also require careful keyword research, good budget management, and adaptable strategies.

You may opt to hire a professional to run your PPC advertising campaigns to avoid potential pitfalls and costly mistakes.

Visibility to Competitors

When we compare SEO and PPC in terms of competitor visibility, SEO has the upper hand.

Not just anyone can access SEO keyword and conversion data. A lot of data is available through Google Analytics, a paid service only the business owner can see.

PPC advertising, however, is visible to your competitors, who can then mimic your ads and analyse your strategies.

You may encounter aggressive tactics when running PPC campaigns, resulting in bidding wars and surprise costs.

Reduced Profit Margins

Because PPC advertising costs money, you may have lower profit margins due to high customer acquisition costs. This is especially true when search engine users click on your ads but do not convert.

These extra costs don’t appear with SEO because it does not require as high of continued investment.

Lack of Sustainability

Because Google and other ad publishers have strict structural guidelines for paid ads, your PPC campaign may lack the originality needed for a sustainable strategy.

These ads don’t have the same staying power as SEO does. Customers tend to skip over ads that have remained the same for a while.

The best PPC advertising uses new ads regularly, which can be quite costly if you’re in a highly competitive industry like finance, general merchandise retail, or tourism. However, you must keep up with PPC to prevent ads from going stale.

SEO vs PPC: Which Should You Choose?

Choosing the right digital marketing strategy between SEO and PPC depends on your situation and marketing needs.

Both strategies can help your business show up on search engines, increase lead generation, and improve your click-through rate and conversion rate.

Let’s look at situations where one strategy may be more appropriate than the other.

SEO Marketing

Ranking on search engines to drive organic traffic requires SEO rather than PPC. SEO may be the best option for you if you want to:

  • Rank higher in an organic search
  • Improve your online presence
  • Improve your brand authority
  • Keep your budget minimal
  • Attract a varied audience
  • Increase ROI over time
  • Develop expert-level informational pages

PPC Marketing

On the other hand, you may choose PPC advertising if you want to:

  • Get fast results
  • Take advantage of a decent budget
  • Notify customers of a sale or offer
  • Drive more traffic to a specific landing page
  • Introduce a new, innovative product
  • Use social media ads
  • Reach a specific audience demographic

A Balanced Digital Marketing Strategy

Although we have so far treated SEO and PPC as mostly separate strategies, they can work together to create a balanced and comprehensive marketing solution.

If you have the time, resources, and budget for both SEO and PPC advertising, you may benefit from a strategy that uses them in tandem.

Here are some examples of how you can use SEO and PPC together to grow your business.

Optimise Your Paid Ad Landing Pages

Landing pages for PPC are the web pages to which a click on your ad takes the customer.

These website pages function best when they are search-engine optimised. Many marketing agencies will have two professionals working on a task like this.

For example, an SEO expert may create the landing page while a PPC expert creates the ad. This is one of the clearest examples of how SEO and PPC can work together.

Mix Your Short-Term and Long-Term Solutions

If you have a brand new business, you probably don’t want to wait for months before SEO efforts kick in to bring in website traffic.

PPC is a short-term solution that can drive traffic to your site while you work on your long-term strategies, such as raising your rankings on search engines, through SEO.

PPC also provides a simple way to increase traffic during specific times, such as holidays and peak seasons.

For example, if you own a landscaping business, you might increase your PPC budget during times when people are searching for landscaping services and focus on SEO during the off-season.

Retarget The Visitors Who Clicked Away

Visitors who find your website through an organic search will not always convert, but you haven’t lost those potential customers just because they clicked away.

PPC advertising includes many ad types, including retargeting ads. When you run a retargeting campaign, you target those prospective customers who have visited your site but have not converted.

You can prompt these followed-up consumers to visit a helpful blog post, give you a call, or complete a purchase.

Create Informed Strategies

PPC provides data that inform your SEO strategy. SEO can require a lot of guess-and-check when you’re first starting, but you can use ad data to create more effective strategies from the beginning.

Data you can access via PPC includes keyword data, such as keyword volumes and competitor bidding information. You can also access data on which calls-to-action are converting well.

If you haven’t run any PPC ads yet, you can use these ads to test keywords and see how they do. You may even run an A/B test to determine which keyword is best to focus on via your work with SEO.

Use Social Media Ads to Promote Your Web Content

Although Google’s ads make up most PPC solutions, social media ads offer another avenue through which you can send visitors to your website. You can use these paid ads to promote certain web content, including blog posts, product reviews, quizzes, clearance sales, or whatever content you’d like to advertise.

Promoting content through PPC advertising on social media also creates many backlink opportunities, which will improve your organic keyword rankings.

Some of the most popular social media sites for PPC in Australia include

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • LinkedIn

Build a Strong Online Presence

SEO and PPC together create a stronger online presence than only utilising one of these strategies over the other.

Consumers gain awareness and confidence in your brand every time they see your business name on an ad or organic search result. When you utilise both options, you significantly improve your brand’s visibility.

SEO vs PPC: Statistics

The topic of SEO vs PPC can seem very theoretical if you don’t have experience in marketing.

Here are some statistics to help you better understand the concrete realities and possibilities of SEO and PPC advertising.

SEO Statistics

  • As of 2021, Google dominates 92.47% of search engine market shares.
  • As of 2021, Google generates 87.98% of Australian search traffic.
  • Searchers make queries on Google an estimated 63,000 times per second.
  • Long-tailed keywords make up 91.8% of all Google searches.
  • As of 2020, 63.9% of global companies actively invested in SEO marketing.

PPC Statistics

  • Paid ads on Google are four times more likely to be clicked on than ads on other platforms.
  • People spent $144 billion on PPC advertising in 2021, which more than doubled the amount of PPC spending in 2020.
  • The average PPC ad revenue is $2 for every $1 spent.
  • Google display ads reach 90% of global internet users.
  • Search Google ads cost an average of $2.69 per click.

SEO vs PPC: Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how to compare SEO vs PPC, you can make the best decision for your marketing goals.

You may decide one strategy is better for your business than the other, or you may decide to leverage and coordinate both to get the results you’re looking for.

Get in touch with us if you need more information about marketing for search engines, have questions about these strategies, or need marketing professionals to take care of your digital marketing.

At EDGE Marketing, we offer powerful marketing solutions, including SEO and PPC, as well as other digital marketing strategies.

We’ve been at this for 20 years—since before Australians started using Google regularly—so you can trust that you’ll be in good hands with us at EDGE. We have the experience to tackle whatever marketing challenges you may face. Call us today on 1300 558 659.

Sean Clancy -
SEO Director
1300 558 659 - www.edgeonline.com.au

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