SEO Vs PPC Ads: Which is Best For Marketing Your Online Business?
More than ever, most of us are living our lives online.
The pandemic taught us a number of lessons, but the power of the internet was certainly one of the most important.
That’s especially true when it comes to the way we shop for products and services.
While Fundera reported that 92% of retail sales were still happening in-person during 2019, the international health crisis propelled our motivation to get what we need without ever leaving the house.
As such, online sales rose in 2020, accounting for 21% of all retail sales (up from 19% just one year prior). Online retail storefronts generated a staggering 14.34 billion web visits in March 2020 alone.
Although thousands of businesses shuttered their doors in 2020, those that have been able to survive often did so due to their online presence. And even though many of us are eager to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, experts believe that our dependency on online shopping will only continue to grow.
In 2016, there were roughly 1.66 billion online consumers worldwide. But by this year, that number was estimated to increase to 2.1 billion. As we continue to navigate an uncertain future, it’s essential that businesses provide solutions for customers online.
If you’re able to effectively reach internet users, you’ll be in a better position to thrive.
But how exactly do you make connections with your would-be customers online?
There are numerous ways to market your online business, but pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization are two of the most popular options.
When you’re trying to decide where to spend your marketing dollars, it’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Let’s take a closer look at the SEO vs PPC debate – and why the right answer might not be as clear as you’d think.
The perks of PPC
First, let’s talk about pay-per-click ads – frequently known as “PPC.”
You’ve undoubtedly seen PPC ads pop up whenever you perform an internet search.
They show up at the top of search results pages and are marked with a small “ad” indicator. That means you’ll get prime real estate in SERPs when you run PPC ads.
Because PPC ads look relatively organic and are text-only, it’s easy to accidentally click on one of these ads. If and when you do, the business running those ads is charged a small fee.
Simply put, the business picks the search terms they want to target with their ads. Their ads will typically appear whenever those keywords are entered into the search field.
This can help your ads reach an impressive number of internet users.
That said, you’ll need to hone your strategy so that your ads aren’t showing up for too many people. If you target too large an audience, for example, your ads might appear for internet users who have no intention of buying your products or services.
If those users click on your ads and then decide your offerings aren’t relevant to them, you’ll end up wasting money on your advertising.
Fortunately, PPC advertising campaigns provide an impressive amount of targeting precision. You’ll have a lot of control over how your message is delivered and who it’s delivered to.
You can also experience greater brand visibility and awareness when you run a PPC ad campaign. Since your ads show up “above the fold,” so to speak, you’ll encourage clicks and spread the word about your business.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll obtain greater budgetary visibility and control with PPC ads than with other kinds of marketing. You can set a limit of how much you want to spend so that you don’t go beyond your means. In addition, you can acquire more insight into the metrics you want to monitor and make adjustments for better results.
PPC is also a great option if you’re looking for lots of progress to be made within a short time. When you need an influx of web traffic or are trying to promote a new product, PPC ads will often yield fast results.
The flip side, of course, is that when your budget runs out, your ads stop running immediately. You’ll see results only for as long as you pay. This can be a good thing when you’re running a limited-time offer or are promoting a time-sensitive event. But for longer-term campaigns that build over a matter of months, PPC may not be the best choice.
PPC ads do require a significant amount of time and effort to manage. They require fairly constant monitoring, which means you might need some extra support to get as much as you can out of your campaigns.
Overall, though, PPC ads can be a smart choice for online businesses, in particular. You can even run visual product ads (which show up in Google’s shopping tab) to entice your customers even more.
And because PPC ads really aren’t impacted by Google algorithm changes, this can be a more consistent way for you to market your products or services where your customers already are – online!
When you need immediate results and more control over your marketing, PPC should be high on your list of priorities for your online business.
The Advantages of SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves numerous tactics that make it easier for customers to find your site.
Having a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate website that offers a lot of value to both web users and search engines will ultimately help your site appear more readily in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Adding value to your site typically involves creating high-quality content (and including relevant keywords in that content) that your readers will find valuable. This will provide context to search engines and help determine whether your site should be recommended in relevant search results.
Admittedly, search engine optimization does take some work. You’ll need to create and publish new content on a consistent basis, conduct keyword research, and make improvements to your website to ensure visitors have a great experience when they visit.
That’s often why businesses will work with an SEO reseller who can provide them with these marketing services, rather than taking on the burden in-house. This option may actually be more affordable, but it’s worth noting that SEO is already a cost-effective lead generation tool to begin with.
In fact, SEO offers the lowest cost per lead of virtually any lead generation channel available. The ROI associated with SEO is also higher than other promotional options. That means you can get more out of your marketing budget when you prioritize SEO.
The amount you invest in SEO today can actually pay off months or even years down the road because you’re focused on providing value rather than driving short-term traffic.
SEO is also designed to build your online presence over time. Although the results will be far from instant, the organic traffic you’ll gain from SEO is usually seen as more valuable than ad-driven traffic. This can go a long way in building credibility for your brand.
If you focus on SEO and make your website as valuable as it can be, Google will take notice and will view your brand as reputable. If you manage to get onto the first page of search results for a certain keyword, you’ll receive a significant amount of the traffic share – and that won’t be dependent on paying for ads.
When you’re seeking consistency, affordability, and better brand associations over time, SEO is a great place to start.
PPC and SEO Are Stronger Together
The reality is that any marketing channel will have its pros and cons.
For some online businesses, it might make more sense to start out with SEO. Others might find that getting aggressive with PPC ads from the start can help build the brand awareness they need.
Ideally, though, you might not want to take an either/or approach at all.
In most cases, a diverse marketing strategy is the best option. That way, you won’t put all your eggs in one basket. If something goes wrong, you have more than one way to promote your business online.
PPC ads are often seen as the best way for online businesses to promote their products and services, but remember that customers may tune out ads. They’re bombarded with them all day every day – and when they’re looking for simple answers to their problems, they don’t want to be presented with a sales pitch.
At the same time, SEO isn’t instantaneous. It comes with a ton of benefits, but it’s not meant to get results within a matter of days or weeks. However, if you’re serious about building your brand over time and want to reach customers in a cost-effective way, you can’t afford to discount SEO.
By taking a more balanced approach to your marketing, you can experience the benefits of both SEO and PPC. Your online business will have both short-term and long-term marketing solutions that can help improve your brand perception, web traffic, and sales.