SEO vs PPC: Lead Generation for Businesses
The success of any online business profoundly depends on the ability to generate traffic. Having more visitors streaming to your site means more leads and sales for your business. Even though you can generate web traffic through a host of ways, the two leading methods for turning web leads into customers are SEO and PPC.
So which method is superior to the other? Well, there’s no definitive answer to this question, even though it’s been asked countless times. The two methods do have their own pros and cons as we will learn shortly. Understanding which method is suitable for your business will ultimately depend on your niche, circumstances, goals, budget or any other substantial reason.
Remember, there are instances where it will make more sense to combine the two methods to attain more traffic for your business. In this post, however, we’re going to answer the classic question that most marketers often ask regarding SEO vs PPC. As well as which option of the two is ideal for promoting your business online.
Defining SEO and PPC
SEO can simply be described as a process of tweaking on-page and off-page elements to enhance the position of a website in search results. Websites that rank on the first page of Google pull in the majority of traffic coming from search engines. The same cannot be said of sites on the second page and beyond.
On the other hand, PPC can be defined as paid advertisements displayed on top and below organic search results. PPC ads produce instant results, though they may cost a lot of money depending on the target keywords.
SEO vs PPC: Which method is superior?
We’ll first discuss the pros and cons of SEO before delving into PPC advertising for the same. Being able to pinpoint where the two methods can best be utilized is the key to acquiring more traffic and leads for your business.
Benefits of SEO:
Help increase awareness about your business
When your website ranks favourably in search engines results for a number of target keywords, it means more people are able to access your content and core offers and products. Over time, people become aware of your brand and the solutions you present in the market.
Grows your brand online
Every time your website appears on the first page for certain commercial or buyer terms, it gains authority in the eyes of searchers. Having authority on a particular subject can have heaps of branding advantages, as more people start to rely on your advice when making vital buying decisions. In the end, building a strong brand online can help your site realise more traffic and leads each month.
Establishes credibility and trust
The majority of online shoppers trust organic results over paid ads when searching for products or services online. This means you’ll likely have more steady leads and sales if you focus on boosting your website in search results over paid ads. Adding reviews and other reputation signals or your page can increase your credibility and trust even further.
The potential for web traffic to increase is high
A rock-solid optimisation strategy can yield sizable traffic for your business. The good thing about SEO is that as your rankings improve, your site gains more traffic that you can convert into customers. In short, attaining good ranking positions for several keywords can bump up your business revenues by a great deal.
Traffic coming from organic search won’t cost you anything. Of course, you’ll have to spend some money with an SEO Agency or on writing quality content and building links to do well in search. After accomplishing good rankings, you won’t be charged for clicks coming to your site.
Has a great ROI
Organic search traffic tends to convert better than paid ads in most niches. People trust organic results more than sponsored ads when searching for information on the internet. Your business will generate leads in the long-term if you focus on improving your site rankings.
It’s more cost-effective
The cost of implementing SEO may seem high when starting out, especially if you’re hiring internet marketers to help out from the start. However, good rankings will, in the end, justify your heavy outlay in the end. Overall, it’s more cost-effective to optimise your site for organic search than to rely on paid advertisements in the long term.
It’s more sustainable
Even though search engine optimisation can be a lengthy exercise, the results yielded from your hard work can last for a long period. On the flip side, PPC depends on your ability to spend consistently. Once your ads stop running, Google stops sending traffic to your site.
Improved click-through-rate (CTR)
Since most searchers trust organic results over paid ads, sites ranking on top of the first page will most likely receive more visits from users than paid ads. Research has shown the click-through rate for organic search trumps paid ads in most verticals.
SEO has long-term benefits
SEO can be a strategic asset to your business if you play the long-term game. Though SEO takes time to implement, the results can be profound for your business since you’ll be literally getting free leads every day. You’ll certainly have a strategic advantage over competitors using paid search ads to generate leads.
Slow to yield results
It’s not all rosy for SEO, however, as there are disadvantages of using this traffic generation as well. Organic growth can be slow and frustrating in the early stages, as your site gains a foothold in the Google search index. This means you can’t rely on SEO to provide your business with instant leads.
Its success is tied to quality content
In addition, search engine optimization success very much relies on quality content. Good content has the ability to generate quality backlinks automatically, while poor content has no chance of picking up any valuable links. If your business doesn’t have enough budgets to buy quality content on regular basis, it’s going to be difficult to compete with big brands spending huge marketing budgets on content marketing.
PPC Advertising Advantages
Even though search engine optimisation has a better click-through rate and is trusted more by web searchers, there are instances where PPC advertising may be the best solution for your business. Here are some of the reasons why.
Top position placement
The advantage of PPC advertising is that your ads get placed above organic search results. If you have a sizable budget, there’s no reason why you cannot expose your business to more targeted traffic.
Optimised ad copy
PPC offers business an opportunity to target businesses in a more granular way than search. As an advertiser, you have more control of people you target, meaning you can precisely target people who are likely to purchase your products or services.
You can promote your business with visual ads
PPC enables advertisers to target search traffic with visual ads. Visually appealing advertisements tend to convert better than organic search results.
Increases brand awareness
Running PPC ads can be beneficial to your brand. As more and more people are exposed to your ads, your business gets more brand visibility.
You can manage your budget better
PPC allows marketers to manage their budgets better. Marketers can be able to allocate their budgets with precision and control the number of leads from any given campaign.
Offers marketers accurate targeting options
As stated earlier, PPC ads allow a business to laser-targeted customers more than organic search results. Well-thought pay per click advertising can target searchers based on their demographics, behaviours, location, language etc.
Easy and fast setup
Unlike organic search results which take time before generating leads for your business, PPC offers immediate results. Marketers can set up ads quickly and start generating leads for their business straight away.
Enables agile testing
PPC advertisements give marketers the ability to test concepts or ideas quickly. It allows marketers or entrepreneurs to quickly assess whether their ideas or concepts are commercially feasible.
Offers marketers unrivalled marketing intelligence options
Google generally hide their search data if you’re trying to rank organically. But the same data is freely available to marketers with PPC accounts. Some of the market intelligence data you can access while running PPC advertisements include the cost of keywords, your conversion percentage and plenty of other important metrics you won’t get with organic search.
Offer marketers advanced AB testing options
With PPC advertising, you have the ability to split-test your ads as well as your landing page to boost conversions.
PPC Advertising offers marketers reliability and stability. Marketers can set up their ads quickly and start generating leads for their businesses without worrying about their ads disappearing. This is unlike organic search where your website could be deleted from the search index without notice.
PPC ads disadvantages
Despite offering marketers lots of customisation option and immediate results, PPC advertising has a number of cons. Learn more below.
PPC advertising can be very costly, especially if your ads are not set up the right way. Also, in some niches, the cost per click is very prohibitive, especially if you’re a small business. Creating and managing your PPC advertising should be left to the experts.
Requires constant investment
PPC advertising may not be sustainable for lots of businesses because you have to increase your marketing budget all the time, in order to get your return on investment. The moment you stop running your ads, Google immediately stops sending traffic in your way.
Bidding for keywords can go out of control
PPC costs can spiral out of control in some niches especially where lots of marketers are competing for the top spots. In such a case, many small businesses may be unable to win the bidding war against big brands with humongous marketing spends.
Easy to copy
PPC ad campaign can easily be copied, unlike organic search. Marketers can easily copy your ads in a very short time and start outbidding you at the top of search results.
PPC vs SEO: Which Method is better?
Now that you’ve read the pros and cons of both SEO and PPC you shouldn’t have too much difficulty deciding which method is ideal for promoting your business.
Local businesses can easily rank on organic search thus SEO may be the ideal method for generating leads locally. On the other hand, a business targeting e-commerce keywords will have more success with PPC ads since its unlikely they can outrank giants like Amazon or other high authority sites already established in organic search.
In addition, if you need immediate leads then PPC may be the best method of garnering traffic to your site. On the flip side, if you wish to build authority in your industry, then you’ll find more success with SEO.
Integrating SEO with PPC
SEO and PPC can work together to produce more leads for a business. Marketers can create short-term and well as long-term digital marketing goals by leveraging on the strength of both techniques. In short, an integrated strategy where you blend PPC with SEO has the potential to take your business to the next level.
The advantages of running SEO and PPC combined include:
- Marketers can use refined keyword data from PPC to improve their organic search campaigns
- Integrated ads can yields more clicks for your business both in the short-term and long-term.
- A/B testing and landing page optimisation in PPC campaigns can be used t improve organic search performance.
- Marketers can retarget organic search traffic with PPC ads, to maximise lead conversion.
- PPC allows you to test winning keywords that you can employ in your organic search campaigns
- The two methods can be used to target prospects from each stage of the buyer journey
In the end, experts’ advise businesses to combine both SEO and PPC when generating leads online. However, you can start generating traffic with one method, and then gradually introduce the other. Ultimately the most superior method of generating traffic depends on your business model and the goals you want your business to achieve.
Martyn Lenthall is the Managing Director at Digital NRG.
In 2012, from his back bedroom, he launched his first SEO company (SEO Company Bristol). A rapidly expanding client base of small businesses, national companies and international organisations, as well as adding more diverse digital marketing products to the portfolio meant a new, more internationally recognised and all-encompassing brand was required, and so Digital NRG was born.
Martyn is considered one of the UK’s leading experts on search engine optimisation.
He has 17 books published on website optimisation and lead generation for business websites.
Website and SEO consultant to multi-national brands.
Public speaker on subjects of SEO, digital marketing and lead generation.