SEO vs PPC which shall I choose?

If you’re looking to invest in your marketing, which option is going to give your business the most benefit?

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) - immediate, targeted and controllable paid traffic
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - long-term, slow growth, constant traffic from ongoing investment into optimisation and content

Everyone wants more traffic to their website - so let’s look at the characteristics of both solutions.


Benefits of PPC

The main reason any organisation chooses pay per click (PPC) as a component of their online advertising strategy is largely down to control and immediacy of results.

You have complete control over the geographic location and time of day you want advertisements to run (and therefore when and where you are driving traffic).

As your strategy becomes more sophisticated, it’s also possible to target your ads at specific audiences. We can then re-market to this audience, ensuring users keep seeing your advert, even on other sites. This really increases the likelihood of a successful sale - this type of activity is associated with a high conversion rate.

By using PPC properly, it's possible to whittle down and effectively target the correct audience for your offering. Google is the world leader in advertising for good reason - they have created one of the best marketing tools to ever exist.

Organisations have full control of where and when they want to appear in search engine results across websites like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Each of these websites have their own version of paid and offer specific benefits for PPC. The devil can be in the details!

Risks of PPC

The main risks of using paid ads to promote your organisation or products are:

  1. poor conversion rates if your ads are not relevant or clear enough
  2. poor budget management - if your ads are clicked by people unlikely to buy
  3. when you stop PPC, the traffic stops 

“One doesn’t simply walk into Google and start spending money”. If you don’t optimise your website for conversions or target your campaign for the best return on investment, PPC will most likely be a failure. 

It’s crucial that conversions and KPIs are established before starting with PPC. Otherwise how can you prove whether PPC advertising added any value?

A major issue with PPC is that when you stop (maybe your marketing team go on holiday or you run out of money), your visits stop. The same can be said for social media.

If you want to know more about PPC, we’d suggest a quick chat with our Manchester-based Pay Per Click team to answer any questions.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Benefits of Search Engine Optimisation 

It doesn’t take a genius to realise a constant footfall of visitors interested in buying your products, using your services or reading important information is good for business. 

After putting the effort in to get visits for your products and services in organic search listing you should keep that position for some time, making clicks become almost free.  

We’ve seen campaigns with 100,000s visits each month - free of charge. These businesses are often well established, and clearly treat investment in SEO as part of a well-coordinated online advertising campaign. 

There is also the trust element. Some marketers believe that visitors from organic search hold more trust, and are therefore more likely to convert into an action (the inference being that people trust paid links less). 

SEO can often be much cheaper than PPC

Paying £3 per click with 100 clicks per month obviously costs £300. 

1000 clicks - £3,000. 

Over a year 12,000 clicks - £36,000. 

But with SEO, once the visitors start coming in, they are free. 

Downsides of SEO

You need to play the long game

Getting a steady stream of visits takes time. A recent study conducted by AHREF shows a site’s keywords take up to 6 months to establish a strong search engine position.

So if you need to get an immediate flow of visitors to your website, SEO might not be for you, and a trial period of PPC may be much more suitable. Talk to our team to find out how.

Poor quality clicks 

You can generate a lot of clicks from all kinds of areas. Naturally bots and other factors will create clicks to your website from China, Brazil and Timbuktu. These clicks probably won’t hold any value for your organisation. The trick is analysing your website data and learning what the best keywords are ranking for you, then focussing on boosting their search position.

That said, many marketers consider SEO to be one of the most effective marketing channels available.

So what do you need for great SEO?

Here the most important factors for great SEO:

  1. Your site needs to be fully compliant with the major search engines. This can be a tricky technical task that is best left to an experienced SEO developer. Setting up your site incorrectly could prevent your pages from even ranking.
  2. Your site needs to load fast. Check your website loading speed here
  3. Be highly useful to people. If your content is useful people read it, people will share it, people will link to it. All amazing for SEO.
  4. You need to use social media to promote content. 
  5. People need to stay on your site. A recent Google study shows that pages that don’t engage people for long, don’t get ranked highly. It’s widely known as Dwell Time
  6. You need mobile-friendly pages
  7. Your site needs to be very easy to navigate. Users should be able to get around your site using the main navigation but also using content.
  8. All content needs to be accessible. Use Google Webmaster Tools to scan for pages that can’t easily be found.

To check your website’s performance, use the Google Search console to run an audit. This will help you identify broken links, page loading issues, incorrect site maps and other conditions set by Google to ensure sites are good for users. If you need help, our Manchester SEO team can help. 

SEO vs PPC & Return On Investment 

Understanding how your organisation works makes money and delivers value to your target audience can help us devise a return on investment plan. PPC will give immediate insights into your online strategy. You may see an immediate ROI. The key is setting a reasonable ROI for your online strategy compared with other methods of acquisition.

Our ROI plan

  1. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  2. Work out a budget to drive visits 
  3. Devise a conversion rate optimisation plan to maximise return on investment
  4. Conduct an audit of existing strategy if there is one
  5. Identify the best keywords to target, using tools such as AdWords Keyword Planner
  6. Audit your website to align your KPIs to conversions.

To find out more talk to a specialist Conversion Rate Optimisation Agency such as Higher Ground.

About us

Higher Ground are a UX and CRO agency. We bring you useful articles and guides to help you get more from your websites, apps and marketing campaigns.

More lean UX posts from Higher Ground

Contact us

For help with conversion rates or have questions about search engine strategy, fill in your details below.

We'll never share your details with other companies. Read about our Privacy Policy here.
Thanks for your details.

We will add you to the Higher Ground newsletter!

Sit tight for helpful articles so you get more from online.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.