Published on May 16th, 2012 | by Amy Edwards1
PPC or SEO?
By Amy @BubbleJobs
Ah, the age old question is back; is PPC or SEO a better option for your online business? The answer ultimately depends on a number of factors including your budget, your commitment and your overall vision for the future.
PPC and SEO share one main objective; they’re both designed to increase a site’s visibility and thus drive traffic to the site in question. On paper they look pretty similar, it’s only when you start to look at the processes, prices and strategies involved that the differences become more apparent.
To work out which is the best option for your business, it’s a good idea to dissect each process in terms of cost, work and long-term impact before deciding on the best route for your business.
For those of you that are a total newbie when it comes to PPC and SEO I’ll start by explaining what each one is and how they differ. Basically PPC (pay-per-click) is the process of using online adverts to direct traffic to your website. You bid on a set of keywords related to your industry and you pay search engines (usually Google) or publishers a set fee every time someone clicks on your ad. PPC ads usually appear above or to the side or organic search results in the form of sponsored ads.
While PPC is quite an obvious way of driving traffic to your website, SEO is much more subtle. In simple terms SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of improving a website’s visibility in organic search results. From on-page optimisation processes such as improving title tags and H1s to off-page techniques like link building, SEO is a fairly complex process which is always changing thanks to Google’s ever increasing search algorithms.
So now you know what PPC and SEO are, let’s look at the main differences between them. The first main difference to consider is time-frame. There’s no doubt about it; PPC can be a quick-win when it comes to attracting traffic to a new site, albeit an expensive quick-win, compared to SEO which tends to be more of a long-term, ongoing process. Making SEO changes to a site can not only take a while to complete but also to register with Google and be rewarded – this means you might not experience an increase in rankings for a few months when it comes to SEO. PPC on the other hand is fairly easy to set up and can be almost instantaneous when it comes to attracting new traffic.
While PPC might sound like the obvious winner it’s important to remember that PPC is only temporary – once you’ve used up all your clicks, that’s it - you have to bid again. Unlike PPC, the effects of SEO can be long standing and can yield you more traffic over a longer period of time.
While neither process is cheap (as you’d expect), PPC can be considerately more expensive than SEO, particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Because the wins from PPC are almost instantaneous, it can be easy to get carried away and spend lots of money you don’t have. The last set worked well so why not do it again right? The important thing to remember about PPC is that the price of the ads is directly affected by the current market so can go up or down depending on competition.
Just like PPC, SEO can be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing but if you do know what you’re doing it can work out much cheaper than PPC. The great thing about SEO is that there is lots of useful information on the internet to guide you through the right and wrong processes – the trick is to stay up to date and not indulge in any processes that are classed as “black-hat” which may result in a site penalty.
When it comes to the work involved in each process to make it effective, the differences are huge. Like I mentioned earlier, SEO is a much more long-term strategy compared to short-term PPC so normally involves much more work – this means PPC usually wins out when it comes to work ethic but don’t be fooled. While PPC can be seen as an easier option than SEO in terms of strategy and work load, PPC can be fairly complex itself when it comes to bidding on keywords and making your budget go that extra mile.
So there you have it; the basic differences between SEO and PPC. So what’s the solution? Ideally you should use a mixture of both (if you have the money that is!) – it isn’t really a case or either/or when it comes to search engine marketing. While SEO is great for attracting organic traffic, PPC can be effective for driving keyword focused traffic that can convert and for short term promotions. If you use both processes, you can “cover all bases” and thus maximise your chances for driving both organic and paid traffic to your site.
It’s important to point out that everything I’ve just talked about relates to the basics of PPC and SEO; they’re both extremely complex subjects within themselves so it’s a good idea to do your own research both on and offline before making any final decisions regarding the best strategy for increasing your site’s visibility.
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