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SEO vs PPC: Pros, Cons, & Everything In Between

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Article Overview

Need help marketing your business online effectively? You've heard about SEO, Google Adwords, or PPC and are still trying to figure out what to do next. SEO is terrific and delivers long-term results, yet PPC is a fast solution getting you on page 1 of Google today. So what are you going to choose?

Which is better, SEO vs PPC?

Every business I speak to eventually ends up asking me this question.

Without a doubt, it’s the most common question SEO or PPC? People are so keen to get on Google that they are torn between the two strategies. And I always tell them the same answer; do both until your SEO kicks in and your website rankings start to climb. Then you can dump the PPC. But, it’s a more complicated path as you need to know the difference between the two and what are the pros and cons of each. 

PPC and SEO are incredibly effective and will generate sales leads, but each discipline has its advantages and disadvantages, as you’ll soon discover in this article. However, a combination (and this is on-going) between PPC and SEO is ideal. And I will prove this to you by the end of this read.

In this article, I will:

  • Clearly explain to you the pros and cons of SEO and PPC
  • Show how each of them can help your business
  • Show you how a combination of PPC and SEO can work together to produce sensational results for your business.

Let’s get started! Let’s firstly look at what I know best and what I’ve been doing for nearly 15 years; SEO.

How SEO Supports Your Business

By now, you should know that having your website ranking on Google is a killer way to get more new business. Google is it, and it’s the best marketing tool you’ll ever have. But SEO and Google rankings are just some marketing strategies you should have in your digital marketing toolbox, as SEO does have a few negative downsides.

Pros of SEO

It’s cost-effective

SEO can be a cheap way to get new clients if you know what you’re doing. Stable organic rankings are fabulous for generating new leads. And, if you are in a non-competitive niche, you can get your rankings up there in a couple of weeks/months. So, even if you have to pay an SEO agency to help you, the cost/benefit is suitable for your business and works out much cheaper than PPC. In addition, getting leads organically doesn’t cost you a cent; how fantastic is that! Forbes back me up in their article 10 Key Benefits Of SEO For Your Business by saying that Apart from time, if you handle it yourself, SEO does not cost anything like other marketing strategies such as pay-per-click. Search engines crawl your site 24/7, promoting useful content and helping you find new customers organically.

It delivers long-lasting results

If your ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ SEO is implemented correctly, you will see long-lasting Google rankings without too many fluctuations. In addition, the effort you continue to execute on your website will ensure that your rankings are stable and they continue to deliver solid customers and sales leads. You should also know that having a trustworthy website has a snowball effect as people will want to link to it organically by referencing your site in their blogs and article, which will again help with even more rankings. The takeaway is that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that can last years.

Plus, if you do SEO correctly, you’ll avoid any Google penalties, which is a nightmare.

Also Read 10 reasons why your website will be penalised by Google.

Improve your brand awareness and trust

I’ve had people call me up and tell me that everywhere they look online, our website is ranking, which is super helpful in building trust. Because they see us online for so many keyword searches, we have already built up a whole bunch of faith with the consumer. So half the sales battle is already won, and this is all through SEO. Remember, consumers are more likely to trust sites on page 1 than on page 2 or 3. Unlike PPC, you don’t have to spend an absolute fortune to target a range of keywords, which is why SEO is cost-effective and great at building your brand.

It gives you a competitive edge.

If you rank on page 1 up there with your competition, you’ll start getting all the sales leads and customers your competition has been getting for years. You can do the same if their business has grown and you know that they have achieved this by relying on their Google rankings. SEO allows you to stop dreaming and start realising actual sales. Essentially, SEO is the perfect catalyst to grow your business.

It Improves User Engagement Rates

If you have optimised your website for better Google rankings, then, generally speaking, it will have a great user experience, easy to follow and quality content which is why consumers are more likely to engage with the site. Once they’re on the site and engaging with the pages, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. A good-looking, user-friendly site with top Google rankings will excite buyers and build trust and overall sales.

I’ve created a video that explains in more depth why SEO is important.

Cons of SEO

It takes time

SEO is a long-term strategy; you must be in a competitive super niche industry to see results. You will receive a penalty if you try to hurry your SEO results by over-optimising link building or creating spammy content. So SEO has to be implemented slowly, methodically and organically. Then and only then will you see the fruits of your labour.

SEO is on-going and does add up

Consistently implement your SEO which is what I tell all my clients. Yes, you can pause it for a while, but if you do nothing, you’ll start to see your rankings slide. You must keep link building, publishing new content, revisiting old articles and updating web graphics, which all take time, and effort and, in many cases, are expensive (but less costly than PPC). Remember, your competition might be implementing their SEO more consistently than you and investing more in backlinks which is why you have to do the same and even harder.

You must be exact.

Amateurs can not implement SEO. Many new businesses have a crack at doing their SEO, and the results are not pleasant. If you want to do any form of SEO, you must leave it to an SEO agency that knows what they are doing, which comes at a cost. SEO requires years of practice, and I bet you that 95% of most business owners will have little or no idea how to link build, market content or optimise web pages for Google. Hence, please leave it to the people that know how all this works.

How PPC Supports Your Businesses

PPC stands for Pay Per Click Marketing, according to Wikipedia. The primary way Google makes money is through the ads that appear at the top of the search results, which you have to pay. Many people don’t know the difference between ads and organic rankings, but the top four positions on Google’s search results are always paid ads. However, as you can see below, there is a distinctive difference between PPC (paid ads) at the top and the organic listings below. PPC is a super-powerful marketing tool, as you appear in positions 1 through 4. But, this privilege doesn’t come for free and will cost you a pretty penny which I’ll delve into below in greater detail.

Pros of PPC

Results are instant

PPC is virtually instant. You can create a campaign in the morning, and a few hours later, your ads are live on Google. Of course, you need a great landing page that will convert browsers into customers, but once you have sussed this out and you can see results, it’s just a matter of pumping in more money. PPC is fantastic if you want to launch a new product or service and you need to bring it to market quickly as you can easily add to your existing campaign by creating new ads, keywords and landing pages.

High visibility

PPC ads are super-visible and the first thing your potential customer will see when they search for something. Imagine being above your competition and taking all those juicy new sales leads. This is the beauty of PPC, visibility and speed.

You get high-intent clicks

Most of your PPC ads will display when a user searches for a specific term. You can make your targeted keywords an exact match. So, if someone is searching for red tennis shoes, your ad will only appear when they key in that specific term which makes PPC very targeted. High-intent clicks mean the consumer is almost ready to buy at that point, and if your ad is up there, you will most likely get the sale.

Lots of decent data

Google provides lots of good data and analytics for each PPC campaign. You can quickly see what ads are working and what are not, adjust them, and improve your landing pages. Therefore, results are instant if you can fine-tune your graphics quickly. The better and more optimised your PPC campaign, the less you’ll spend. Over time you’ll become good at this with a bit of practice.

Cons of PPC

Wow, it can get expensive.

Unlike SEO, through organic rankings, all clicks are free. But, PPC can get super-price per click, especially if you’re in a competitive niche with other businesses vying for the top position. The medical, legal and tradies PPC campaigns can quickly cost a small fortune and chew your marketing budget. Get ready for lots of heavy monthly Google bills on your credit card. Sure, it may produce results, but for this to happen, you’ll be spending a lot of money, so you have to be aware of your ROI and if you see any value.

PPC is constant

When you stop your PPC campaign, the ads will disappear, so if you have been relying on Adwords/PPC, this will have to become part of your marketing budget. And, as more businesses enter the industry, the price of your PPC will increase. Remember, it rarely goes down in cost. But conversely, SEO can be tuned down so long as you have the foundations and SEO fundamentals set up correctly.

Rocket scientist

For the average business owner setting up a PPC campaign, monitoring it and optimising the design of the landing pages takes time and effort. And most people won’t have the foggiest how to do it. I’ve been doing PPC for years, and it still sometimes baffles me how difficult the backend interface can be. Plus, getting your head around the geek-speak data requires a new level of understanding. Simply put, PPC involves expertise, and they will charge you a percentage of your ad spend.

Click fraud

Guess who’s clicking on your ads as well as clients? Your competition. That’s right! Expect to waste a whole bunch of money on click fraud by the competition, which is super-common and will chew through your daily budget like a hot knife through butter. It’s a horrible feeling to see that you’ve already spent $100 in an hour, but there have been no inquiries. Plus, there are a lot of tyre kickers who see a catchy tagline and are just on your site to browse. All this costs money and is an expensive component of your PPC campaign.

SEO and PPC: How They Work Together

It would be best if you were doing SEO and PPC in a perfect world, but this can get far too pricey. PPC for quick wins and SEO for long-term brand building. I always tell my clients to start PPC and SEO, and then as your Google rankings improve through our SEO efforts, you can begin reducing your PPC. On the other hand, if you always want to appear at the top of the search results, combine SEO and PPC for the long term.

SEO vs PPC Frequently Asked Questions

How is ranking different when comparing PPC vs SEO?

PPC ads appear at the top four positions of Google’s search results and are above the organic SEO results. PPC ads are ranked according to relevance, budget, and landing page quality. In comparison, SEO results will depend on a massive number of variables that are kept secret by Google. In both cases, you can control the rankings of your PPC campaign and adjust to see immediate results. But, with SEO, you can only guess what to do to improve rankings based on what’s worked in the past and keeping up to date with online chatter about Google’s algorithmic changes. Plus, SEO changes in your rankings can take many months.

If I spend more money on PPC, will it help with my organic rankings?

No, it won’t help with your rankings, as the two are entirely separate. However, it will help you understand what keywords drive the most traffic to target in your SEO campaign.

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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