PPC or SEO: Which is Better for your Business?


There are several ways to boost traffic to your website, social media marketing, referrals, banner ads, however, 2 are more common than others. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) are the most prevalent and used throughout digital marketing. Website owners are continually asking the questions “which one is the best at driving traffic and ultimately more conversions?” With many different opinions and advice, many can feel confused and ultimately unable to make a decision.

PPC Marketing Strategy

SEO vs PPC companyPPC advertising programs are provided through Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and many others. With PPC campaigns, you are paying for the traffic being driven to your site. Whatever platform you go through, Google is the top rated, will enable you to display ads in the sponsored results section on the search engine results page (SERP). You will then pay a fee that is based on how competitive your keywords are and whenever a viewer clicks through your ad to your website. 

Pay per click marketing is all about getting instant, short term results and visitors by using relevant keywords in PPC networks. In only a matter of minutes, you can set up a PPC campaign and see the visitors come to your website. It might be very easy to set up a campaign, but if you want to see good results, then you need to put in a lot of planning and effort. To continue to succeed in a PPC campaign you will have to continually edit, modify and adjust your keywords as those keywords change over time. 

The ease of PPC is that it allows highly targeted visitors to come to your website. Furthermore, not only can you target the location of the user, but you can also pinpoint a targeted demographic based on their age, background, and income. Of course, having a more focused target user the higher the cost-per-click. In order to run successful PPC ads, you will need to create the following…

      • Keyword Research
      • Ad Copy
      • PPC Campaign Goals
      • High Quality-Scores
      • Ad Groups
      • Bid Adjustments

Depending on the keyword you can bid on keywords from as little as a few pennies, but if you target the more competitive keywords, it can easily reach hundreds. Luckily you get to control how much you want to bid for a keyword. However, bid too little and you might not end up in the top results. Instead, you might be pushed down to the bottom of page 1, or worse, page 2! Not only does this reduce the number of people that see your ads, but it also means you’ll get a lower click-through-rate.  

Related: Why Update your PPC Campaign

SEO Traffic Strategy

search engine optimization companySEO is all about getting relevant organic traffic to your website through search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Google is the number one rated search engine and therefore we focus more on achieving higher ranking through them. Depending on the competition in your industry it could take a longer time to see good organic SEO results. Some businesses are spending lots of money to improve their ranking, but the question must be asked is it worth it? 

The short answer is YES! You can build traffic for free through high rankings that are achieved through organic search results — the listings will be displayed next to or below the sponsored results. You will need to follow SEO best practices to get your site displayed on these pages more prominently and more often. Although it may take time to reach the top spot of the organic results, the free, targeted traffic will probably prove to be well worth the investment.   

SEO can also be relatively cost-effective if you focus on “on-page” best practices. If you decide to tackle on-page SEO, it is worth reading various blogs, especially those on Google’s Algorithm updates. Doing it yourself is cost-effective, but time-consuming. On the other hand, if you want to leave it to the professionals, it can cost you anywhere from $500 to thousands a month. It might sound like a lot but when you think about the amount of traffic and conversions you’ll be getting, you can still turn a profit.   

The good thing about SEO is that once you get higher rankings, you tend to maintain your ranking. As long as your competition isn’t actively engaging in SEO practices to surpass you. Businesses can maintain their ranking for months. Some food for thought is the number one ranking website on a SERP get more clicks than the pages ranked 2-10 combined. This means if you have a high traffic keyword with over 10,000+ searches a month, you’ll be getting a big slice of the traffic if you rank number 1.  

Related: Top SEO Tactics to Implement for Your Business

Which Is Worth It? PPC or SEO?

PPC or SEOIs one marketing strategy better than the other, or are they a close call? It really depends on the company’s needs and budget. Using PPC will have you gaining traffic fast, but you must be willing to pay for it. But if you are operating on a smaller scale it would make more sense to invest time in rankings through SEO to get found on the top of search results pages.

Digital Marketing Budget

digital marketing budgetDepending on your marketing budget will depend on which options you should focus on. Once you have decided the size of the advertising budget you will be able to know how much you can set your daily spending limit. You can set your daily spending limit as low as you’d like, but it can be a ”best practice” to start with a minimum of $5 to $10 a day.  

The Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, SEMPO, estimates that 87% of search engine dollars are spent on PPC vs. 11% spent on SEO efforts. That’s more than $10 billion spent on PPC vs. just $1 billion spent on SEO. That means a strategy that’s over 5x more effective, SEO, is only receiving 1/8 the media spend in the market! It’s hard to justify the expense of a PPC campaign, knowing that SEO is more successful and the overall better long-term value. 

However, if your a new business then there might not be an advertising budget. If this is the case, then stay with free SEO methods. But if you have even a little capital to invest in PPC advertising. Even a budget of $10 a day can yield a return on investment (ROI) of well about 100%. Consider giving it a try because it offers a number of benefits such as: 

Faster Digital Marketing Results

web design for business growthYour website should be focused on achieving conversion, whether it’s selling products, signing up subscribers for an email newsletter or some other action. This means actively testing website variables to improve conversion rates. These tests do require traffic to generate substantial data, therefore you might want to gain traffic through PPC advertising to get faster results. 

SEO Algorithm Updates

mobile optimization for web designOne major pitfall of SEO is that the algorithms change from time to time. When that happens, sites that have been optimized in one way can start to lose rankings and ultimately profits, practically overnight. For more information on Google’s updates, check out this timeline from Moz. In contrast, when you pay for traffic, you’ve assured a steady stream of visitors, no matter what changes Google and the other search engines make. 

PPC does have a learning curve. Start by doing keyword research, making sure you are targeting the right phrases and long-tail keywords in your PPC campaign. Then with small and highly targeted campaigns, you can tie your PPC campaign to your Google Analytics (GA) account. GA can tell you which conversions are from PPC visitors and whether your ROI is positive or negative. A benefit of having a PPC campaign is it can be adjusted, keywords added or removed accordingly.   

Pay Per Click Budget

You should be comparing other people/websites in your industry and seeing what they are paying for their ads. This is in addition to setting your advertising budget. PPC platforms will typically allow the user to bid any amount they’re willing to pay for a single keyword click, this is referred to as cost-per-click (CPC).

An example would be if you are trying to reach people who are searching for the keyword phrase for “digital marketing company.” You can use the Traffic Estimator within the free Google External Keyword Research Tool and see what the average CPC for that phrase is. Some CPC’s can run very low, others can run much higher, for example, “auto Insurance” is $28.55 CPC. Therefore, if your industry runs a higher CPC it might be a better choice to use SEO. However, if it is lower, around $0.10 a click it would be advantageous to use PPC campaigns.   

What are SERPs and how competitive are they?

seo and SERPs competitionYou will want to also research how competitive the search engine results pages (SERP) are for your targeted keywords. Utilize Google External Keyword Research Tool, entering in your keywords and seeing the estimated competition level. In GA you can see the number of advertisers bidding on your selected keywords and the average CPC.

Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, you might find that your target keywords are dominated by authoritarian websites. If this is the case, you will find it nearly impossible to displace them without a significant investment of both time and money. In this scenario, it would ultimately make more sense to pay for traffic via PPC promotions.   


SEO vs PPC comparisonNow that you have a small working knowledge of both strategies, you have to look at the advantages of both: 

SEO is great for a long-term traffic strategy that is more cost effective to the digital marketing campaign. This is best used on things like your main website and product pages to attract more visitors. 

PPC, on the other hand, is a great short-term way to drive traffic to your website. Perfect if you’ve launched a new product or having a sale. PPC is an excellent way to get an increase in visitors. 

However, it isn’t necessary to make an “either-or” choice. Combining a well-designed PPC campaign and utilizing great SEO strategies can be quite powerful. You shouldn’t be viewing them as one or the other, but you should be viewing them together.

SEO is great for developing long term traffic, taking several months to see results however little cost to maintain. PPC, on the other hand, is pretty much instant and can cost far more in the digital marketing budget.  

Over the long term, you’ll increase your SERP for main keywords if you use both strategies. You will get the best of both traffic sources without having to spend too much money. If you need help with either creating a PPC campaign or increasing your SEO look towards the experts.

Blue Water Marketing is able to design the right PPC campaign for your company, market, and budget. They can also help with ensuring your website is optimized for searches and compliant with Google algorithms. 

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Chris Marrano

Chris Marrano

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Our digital marketing strategy is built on the foundation of driving measurable results. We take a full-circle approach to online marketing with a focus on increasing conversions, repeat traffic and generating greater brand loyalty.

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