SEO & PPC: What’s the Difference and What’s Right Strategy for Your Business?

With the dawn of our digital age, advertising shifted from traditional mediums such as newspaper, radio, and television ads to a focus on search engines. This makes online advertising and website optimization essential.

So where should businesses trying to boost website traffic and find new customers place their online efforts? Into two buckets: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click Online Advertising (PPC).

But there is often some confusion as to what those two terms mean, and which method is the most effective.

First, a quick explanation of the two strategies:

SEO or Organic Strategy

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means optimizing your website for the highest positions in search engines for organic or unpaid visits. This is done by providing your customers with the best user experience possible while giving the search engines the information they need. Search engines feed on page content, meta descriptions, titles and making sure all other tags and markups are in the right place.

For example, let’s say you create the perfect website for your business with amazing content, fast loading code, no 404 errors and all the technical pieces in place.  You still may not be seeing your site rank for valuable keywords. That is because search engines will also take into account other factors such time on site, number of pages per visit, and the number of other websites that link back to your site. These factors are part of the user experience and for the search engines, will ultimately determine whether or not visitors view your website as valuable.

PPC or Paid Strategy

The key difference between Pay Per Click (PPC) and SEO is that you are paying for your visits versus getting those visits for free. The visits you pay for can be targeted in several ways. You can select specific keywords or search terms that you want to rank high for, target visitors by targeting your competitors, target specific audiences, or even target people that have visited your site in the past.

Because you are paying for this traffic, you want to make sure it converts. Many of the tactics you use for SEO can also be applied to PPC to move your visitors through their customer journey and convert on your website where it is most valuable for your business. Fast site speed, well cultivated content, and a positive user experience will not only help your website convert, but can also help you receive future unpaid visits as your site becomes a trusted asset to those seeking products and services in your industry.

Clearly, there are pros and cons to both forms of digital advertising.

SEO Pros

  • Ranking high in the search engines for free can bring in valuable traffic at no additional cost to you.
  • Sites that rank high in organic search are more likely to be trusted by visitors.
  • Incorporating an SEO strategy means you are likely focusing a great deal on user experience.

SEO Cons

  • SEO can be very time consuming.
  • Doing everything right does not guarantee visits.
  • A high rank in one search engine does not ensure a high rank in all search engines.

PPC Pros

  • Unique messaging can be created for specific landing pages.
  • In-depth targeting for specific types of users.
  • Start seeing results immediately (SEO can take months to see results, if at all).

PPC Cons

  • Can be very expensive and/or ineffective if set up incorrectly.
  • It is time consuming to setup correctly, test messaging and monitor results.

Bottom Line

It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. This is especially true in digital advertising. While PPC is incredibly effective and can help drive results almost immediately, focusing on a well-balanced SEO strategy will help your website in the long run. SEO best practices are essential for any website.

Whether you are using a paid or organic strategy, user experience is essential to conversions. The more time people spend on your business’s website, the better the site will rank in organic results.

Paid and organic strategies can complement each other in many ways. When taking a paid or organic approach, be sure to focus on both strategies to increase website traffic, and ultimately achieve your business goals.

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