It’s like the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
Similarly, if you have an amazing product or service, but no one knows about it, does your business even exist?
The answer to both questions is a resounding NO.
Increasing your search engine results page (SERP) visibility today, where everyone can see it, is essential.
You have two choices: spending for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns or investing in organic search engine optimization (SEO).
In this blog, we’ll take a look at:
Let’s review which traffic generation strategy makes the most sense for you.
What Is SEO?
SEO is the practice of increasing your SERP visibility. Put simply, it’s the process of ensuring your website is as search engine friendly as possible.
“It’s a long-term investment, and as many say, SEO is a marathon rather than a sprint,” said Steve Hoenig, Thrive’s SEO Engineer.
This type of digital marketing focuses on improving your website’s organic search engine rankings, “generating traffic, leads and sales almost on autopilot.”
People are searching for many things on the web, including:
Organic SEO methods help ensure that when people search for your business, they can find it. As Hoenig said, it’s a long game – you’ll need patience to see results if you take this route.
How SEO Campaigns Look Like
Whether you hire a search engine optimization consultant or take the DIY route, optimizing for organic search engine rankings typically includes these activities:
• Keyword research and strategy. Identify the right words and phrases people use to search for your product or service.
• Link building. Creating relationships with other websites and blogs to get backlinks that point your way.
• On-page SEO. Optimizing your website’s content and structure to help search engines better understand what you offer.
• Technical SEO. Ensure your site’s hosting and architecture are up to snuff so search engines can crawl and rank your pages.
If you’re running a local business, you can also invest in local SEO campaigns to help people in your area find you.
Here’s how a multi-location residential foundation repair company looks at its SEO campaign’s top five keyword performance year-on-year:
The graph shows growth from 409 top-five keywords to 1,161 top five keywords from 2017 to 2021, which is a drastic increase. From 2015 to 2021, this company generated triple-digit growth in several areas through its SEO campaigns, such as:
• New users (263.9%)
• Referral traffic (144.3%)
• Goal completions (126%)
What Is PPC?
Unlike SEO, PPC leverages paid traffic generation tactics like search engine marketing and display advertising. That means you’ll pay for your clicks or impressions instead of organically earning them.
For example, you bid on specific keywords relevant to your business. When people search for them, your ad appears in the SERP. Once they click on your ad, you’ll pay the agreed-upon fee.
If you’re bidding on Google, your PPC ad will have these parts:
• Headline: A short, attention-grabbing sentence.
• Description: A few lines of text that explain what you’re offering.
• Display URL: The web address where your ad will lead to.
• Call to action: A prompt encouraging readers to click the ad, such as “Learn More” or “Shop Now.”
Screenshot: Character limits for Google Ads
Here’s what Cuyler Franzke, Thrive’s Paid Media Director and search engine marketing expert has to say about PPC:
“Advertisers should consider utilizing PPC at all phases of their strategy, no matter where they are in the life cycle of their business. PPC campaigns can be constructed based on the level of awareness of a consumer and where they are located in their customer journey.”
What’s Inside a PPC Strategy
Speaking of managing PPC campaigns, a PPC strategy also has many moving parts, like SEO campaigns. Here are some things a search engine marketing company usually offers for their PPC services:
• Keyword research and strategy. Just like SEO, you need to identify the right keywords to target with your PPC campaigns.
• Ads A/B split testing. Running two versions of an ad to determine which one performs better.
• Landing page conversion. Creating a high-converting page where people will land when they click your ad.
• PPC management. Tracking your campaigns’ performance and making adjustments as needed.
“PPC works best towards the bottom of the funnel and typically is the final driver for conversions,” said Franzke. “In a general sense, if a business wants to drive leads or eCommerce, PPC needs to be a part of the strategy.”
An Amazon audio company leveraged a search engine marketing agency’s PPC services to grow its sales and reduce advertising costs. Before outsourcing their PPC campaigns, the company only had 14,000 monthly unit sales despite having 2,000 products displayed.
To increase their sales and streamline their advertising, they conducted keyword research, product listing optimization and setting up promotional ads, among others.
These efforts yielded favorable results for the audio company:
Case Study: Seismic Audio
Additionally, this audio company got 19.18% more email users and 18.59% higher add-to-cart conversion rate.
SEO vs. PPC: Pros and Cons
Now, let’s pit SEO and PPC strategies against each other. To make an informed SEO vs. PPC decision, we must look at both strategies’ potential and pitfalls.
|Slow and Uncertain Results
|Requires Expertise and Know-How
|Increased Credibility and Trust
|Competition and Unpredictability
Advantages of SEO
While not cheap, SEO campaigns are still more cost-effective than PPC. You don’t have to keep paying for each click; you can get long-term results with it.
“SEO has the goal of building up a website as an asset, and the work put into it accumulates over time, increasing the value of that asset,” Hoenig said.
That means that you can get more value for your money down the road.
If you want to maximize cost-effectiveness, we recommend hiring a search engine optimization consultant to yield better results than doing it alone.
2. Long-Term Results
Aside from algorithm updates, organic search engine rankings usually remain the same for a long time. So, once you have a page that ranks high on SERPs, it will stay there even without additional SEO activities.
“While it’s best to continue to maintain and work on that asset, at some point, you could walk away from it and have it still generate leads for your business.”
For instance, if you’re a franchise business, you can leverage on-brand franchise SEO activities to maximize visibility in the local markets. Then, you can rely on organic search growth as that page continues to rank instead of investing in paid search campaigns.
3. Increased Credibility and Trust
While SEO and PPC strategies grant precious real estate on top of SERPs, organic SEO results instill more credibility and trust. This is because people naturally put more faith in organic results than ads.
Disadvantages of SEO
1. Slow and Uncertain Results
Long-term results require patience. It could take weeks or months before your SEO efforts pay off, and you may see little improvement.
While sustainability is a crucial advantage of SEO vs. PPC, you can’t be sure whether your SEO strategy will really work.
2. Requires Expertise and Know-How
From dashboards and keywords to writing thought leadership content, increasing SERP visibility through organic means isn’t a walk in the park.
If you really want to boost traffic generation to your website, you may need help from a search engine optimization consultant or search engine marketing agency.
3. Competition and Unpredictability
As we said, you can’t be sure if your SEO efforts will pan out.
The competition on SERPs is fierce, so even if you do everything right, there’s always the chance that someone else did it better than you. This is not to say that SEO is a losing battle because it’s not. You have to prepare for the possibility of not getting the expected results.
As we said: long-term results require patience.
|Immediate Visibility Boost
|Higher Costs and Continuous Expenses
|Targeted Campaign Control
|Ad Lifespan Dependent on Budget
|Performance Tracking Ease
|Complex Management and Learning Curve
Advantages of PPC
1. Immediate Visibility Boost
Implementing a PPC strategy is your best bet if you want instant, measurable results.
“As soon as you launch a campaign, you can start showing ads to your end user, post-learning phase,” Franzke said.
“There still needs to be time to make adjustments and allow the platform to learn, but in most cases, you can start drawing data and results within the first couple of weeks.”
Since you get to pay for each click, you can immediately increase your visibility on SERPs. Of course, this requires a budget, but at least you’ll know what to expect from your campaigns.
2. Targeted Campaign Control
There are several options you can use inside your ads platform (like Google Ads) to refine your targeting and how you’re managing PPC campaigns. This includes:
• Geotargeting. Show your ads to people located in specific countries, states or cities.
• Demographic targeting. Show your ad to a group of people based on their age, gender and other factors.
• Device targeting. Choose which devices you want your ad shown.
• Retargeting campaigns. Show ads to people who have interacted with you on the web before (i.e., visitors to a specific page).
The more control you have over your campaigns, the more likely you’ll reach your desired audience.
3. Performance Tracking Ease
It’s also very easy to track the performance and results of your PPC strategy because of its transparency.
“Everything you do in PPC has data tied directly to it, especially KPI information. ROI can be directly tied to PPC from the beginning,” said Franzke.
Right from your ads platform, you can easily monitor how much money you’re spending for each click and the ROI of your campaigns.
Working with a search engine marketing expert also helps you measure your performance against your goals and identify improvement areas.
Disadvantages of PPC
1. Higher Costs and Continuous Expenses
Unlike SEO, PPC campaigns require a constant flow of money. If you don’t keep up with the expenses, your ad won’t appear on SERPs anymore.
Also, certain keywords may have very high bidding prices, thus making them too expensive for small businesses.
2. Ad Lifespan Dependent on Budget
While they’re good at short bursts of exposure, PPC ads won’t last long without a budget.
Once your budget runs out, your ads will disappear from SERPs until you add more money. As such, managing the funding for these campaigns and keeping track of where the money is going is crucial.
3. Complex Management and Learning Curve
Like SEO, PPC is also a jungle of keywords, settings and strategies.
If you want to get the most out of your money, you need to figure out if a keyword is worth bidding on or not. This means finding the right balance between cost and relevance while still managing to hit your targets.
Choosing Between PPC and SEO
At this point, you already have a better grasp of how SEO and PPC strategies fit into your plan. It’s time to answer the question: which one?
The answer is that it depends on your current priorities and goals.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Budget and ROI expectations. Do you have the money to invest in PPC, or do you want more cost-effective results?
• Timeframe. Are you looking for a quick solution, or is it better to focus on long-term SEO efforts first?
• Target audience and competition. How fierce is the competition in your industry, and what’s the best way to reach your target market?
If you want fast, predictable and measurable results, go with PPC. But organic SEO is the way to go if you wish for more sustainable and cost-effective visibility on SERPs.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds: PPC and SEO Working Together
Here’s the thing: both SEO and PPC are powerful digital marketing strategies, and they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Investing in frameworks where PPC and SEO working together can really skyrocket your visibility and get you more traffic to your website.
For example, when it comes to content marketing, SEO is usually used to drive organic traffic, while PPC campaigns act as a means of promoting the content and creating brand awareness.
“Because of the speed of uptime for PPC, it can pick up any slack or low points during the long process of doing SEO the right way,” said Franzke.
Furthermore, PPC complements SEO by filling in the gaps with “any tough search terms that SEO efforts may be having a difficult time with, whether that be search volume or competition.”
Take a look at this international manufacturer of photonic technologies.
They did not skimp out on either SEO or PPC. Instead, they leveraged both strategies to grow their online presence. Since hiring a search marketing agency, this company landed on the first page for 730 more keywords and 688 search terms.
Furthermore, they generated around 20,000 clicks and 447,000 impressions in a 28-day period:
Case study: Technology Manufacturer
“Even in the scenario that keywords are ranking well in Google, PPC allows a website to occupy even more real estate on the 1st page, increasing brand authority while pushing competitors out of prominent search positions,” said Hoenig.
This goes to show that by combining SEO and PPC, you can effectively increase your brand awareness and grow your business.
Boost Your SERP Visibility With Thrive Internet Marketing Agency
You don’t have to choose between working with a search engine optimization consultant or outsourcing to a search engine marketing company.
At the end of the day, PPC and SEO working together is the best way to go if you want to maximize your visibility on SERPs.
If you’re looking for a search engine marketing agency with expertise in both organic and paid strategies, then Thrive is the perfect choice. We offer fully-integrated digital marketing services that help you get more leads, sales and ROI from your website traffic.
Contact us and start your journey to better search performance today!