SEO vs PPC: Which Has Better Return on Your Investment?

It seems like we’re always splitting ourselves into teams, and in inbound marketing, it’s not that different. For search engine marketing, it’s team SEO (search engine optimization) taking on team PPC (pay-per-click). Both methods have pluses and minuses, but it doesn’t answer the perpetual question: Is SEO better than PPC or is PPC better than SEO?

Let’s first take a step back and review what exactly each one is. Search engine optimization focuses on using organic search of targeted keywords within your website content to rank higher than other websites in search results. Pay-per-click or PPC is paid advertising for specific keywords on those same search result pages.

Each one has its own list of pros and cons. SEO is consistently viewed as more trustworthy by search users, but can take three to six months for your web pages to begin returning in SERPs (search engine results pages). PPC is only visible on one search engine and needs constant reinvestment. If you were to run a PPC campaign on Google AdWords and also want to have the same campaign run on Bing, you would have to create a new set of ads.

One point of conflicting information in this ongoing debate is the belief PPC such as AdWords will help your website with ranking and overall credibility. Since PPC will take a visitor to a landing page, rankings won’t be affected one way or the other. We take a closer look at this reason later in our blog. Ranking is decided by the search engine algorithms, taking into account content curation, keywords, and blogging on your website.

Isn’t PPC Better Than SEO?

From the standpoint of the search engine companies like Google and Bing, PPC is where they make money. SEO has very little revenue for these companies and constantly has ranking algorithms being tweaked and changed.

A good PPC campaign will need a $50 to $100 daily spend on clicks with a realization and understanding that not every click will turn into a lead, let alone a customer. It can give an initial boost in traffic to a new website or web page that would otherwise take up to three months to return in organic search results. However, paid traffic such as this stops as soon as a campaign is over and the budget is removed.

On the other hand, SEO statistically brings better traffic and more trusting leads. Many people have become immune to seeing paid results on search results regardless of placement on the page. It is also up to 45 percent times more cost effective than PPC, even though it takes longer to begin returning financial results. Plus, organic links earn nearly 90 percent of the clicks on page one SERPs on Google, while the rest of the clicks go to PPC.

Don’t I Get Customers More Quickly with AdWords Than Organic?

Paid search advertising like, AdWords, provides quicker results, but it can just as quickly use up a marketing budget. The landing page behind the AdWord is where you need to convince the searcher to make a purchase, schedule an appointment, or otherwise convert to a customer. Any landing page you have needs to be specific to the AdWord it’s behind as this will drive more conversions. Think of it as nobody wants to click on an ad and be taken to a page for something unrelated to what they were searching for.

Organic searches are considered the most valuable traffic source because once you move up the rankings, you continue earning consistent traffic from those rankings for some time. A 2013 study by online ad network Chitika (now out of business), 92 percent of all search traffic is found on page one of Google search results. Google is very particular about how it ranks SERPs, meaning if you rank on page one, you have quality content on your website.

So Which One Wins?

Our final opinion on the subject is delivered in just two words. Do both!

That is, if you have the budget and are willing to spend money to promote a landing page offer or a service of your business, and you are willing to accept that you could spend from $10 a click to over $200 to get each new lead or customer. Eventually, you’ll get the right combination and spend less and this could be a good boost to your bottom line.

If you can accept those terms, do PPC in conjunction with SEO. If it’s a choice between one or the other and you don’t have “deep pockets”, SEO is absolutely proven to drive up your sites organic traffic in the long run and provide more ROI over time.

Make sure you have attainable, specific goals when you get into your project. Whether it’s an organic method or a PPC campaign, having goals and benchmarks are crucial to measuring success and continuing to move forward with your marketing and budgeting decisions.

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