Given the growing number of internet users, many marketers are leveraging SEO and SEM aka PPC tactics to enhance their content’s online presence.
Both SEO and SEM are crucial tools for businesses aiming to drive online sales, yet they operate differently. SEO aims to improve a website’s organic ranking over a longer period, while SEM focuses on using paid ads for immediate traffic boosts.
It’s essential for marketing professionals to distinguish between SEO and SEM in terms of targeted search results, the duration required to see outcomes, and their respective costs in the short and long run.
What Are The Differences Between SEO & PPC?
Let’s dive into the differences between both SEO & PPC before choosing which strategy you should start with.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about optimizing your website to rank in search engines like Google or Bing. SEO is a must for you to gain organic traffic without paying ads. You can learn more about – introduction of SEO.
Often if you have your website landing pages well optimized for SEO keywords that rank higher on Google search results like – SEO company as shown below – organic search results, without showing as ads,
What is SEM/PPC?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model where you only pay once a user clicks on your ad. For example, Google Ads is one popular advertising model of paid ads that use PPC. Most of the time, Google Ads also refer to SEM – search engine marketing and other terms like search ads, paid search, and SEM marketing all similar to this category – ultimately to pay for results to get more potential customers.
Often your search/PPC ads on Google as shown below,
Which to Choose – SEO or PPC?
The digital space is full of untapped opportunities to grow your business. No matter if you need digital marketing services for a business website or e-commerce website, you can choose from a wide variety of them, ranging from content marketing to social media management.
Today we will discuss one of the very common questions asked when a company wants to start advertising online would be: should you go for search engine optimisation (SEO) or pay per click (PPC)? Should you do both, or just one?
These 2 are the most common strategies suggested by digital marketers to improve your online presence and boost sales. SEO and PPC advertising are two of the most effective marketing strategies to obtain leads & sales. But if you are a new company without a big budget and could only invest in one of them, which one should you start with? SEO services or PPC advertising? Ultimately help your business to scale during your start in the most cost-effective way.
There are several factors that come into play before you can decide which one to go for. But first, you must know exactly what SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) are.
Things to Consider For Choosing Between SEO & PPC
Now, here are several questions to ask yourself before you decide which to go for:
1. How big is your budget?
If your budget is wide enough, you could opt for PPC. The reason is that the price you pay per click is not fixed, it is always changing, compared to SEO where you pay a fixed amount monthly to an agency (unless you’re doing it by yourself).
The cost per click for certain keywords could go as high as RM30 or more! With SEO, you could target any keywords for a fixed amount as you are not paying per keyword.
If your budget is limited, SEO would be a better choice as you could target various keywords with a fixed amount, and you will not be charged every time a user clicks on your website.
2. Are you looking at long-term or short-term?
Without a doubt, PPC is the way to go if you want instant results. Why? Setting up a PPC campaign is just a few clicks away. Once you’ve set up your campaign, your ads will go live and you’ll also see it appear on the top of search engines.
With SEO, it will take several months for you to actually see ROI and positive results.
The great thing about PPC is that you can also easily run A/B tests and analyse the progress to quickly find out what works best and tweak from there. Since SEO is long-term, you can’t tell immediately if your SEO strategy is working or not until a few months later down the road. It wouldn’t be easy to measure the changes as compared to PPC campaigns.
If your business can’t afford to spend a certain amount of money just to find out that it doesn’t work at the end of the SEO campaign, then it’ll be better to go for PPC instead.
3. Do you want to advertise elsewhere other than search engines?
For Google Ads, there is something called Google Display Network (GDN) where your ads can appear on Youtube, websites that have Adsense installed, and more. Your ads will appear in a wider range of audiences other than search engines. If your business is the type where your audience comes from mostly Youtube, for example, then PPC would be better than SEO. The plus side of PPC is that you’ll also get visitors coming from both search engines and other social media platforms and websites as well.
There’s also Google Ads remarketing where it’ll be a combination of images, video, etc.
When you focus only on SEO, you’ll be only spending money to rank on the first page of search engines. Your visitors can only find your business when they search something on search engines. Though nowadays everyone uses search engines to search for something they are looking for, this limits your audience. Hence, you have to see where your target audience lies, which brings us to the next point.
4. Do you want to specifically target your audience?
PPC allows you to target specific audiences based on demographics, location, and so on. If your business caters to a specific audience type, this would be a better option for you. For instance, maybe your target audience is more towards the age group 18 to 30. You could set the age group with PPC.
SEO does not allow you to laser target your audience, you can only target specific keywords. The users that click and sees your website can come from any age and gender, including location as well.
5. How competitive is your niche?
Your business niche also plays a part in choosing between SEO or PPC. If you’re running an e-commerce store, PPC would be a much better option for you as you can’t afford a long-term game, especially since the competition is so high, it might be close to impossible to rank on the first page of search engines.
On the other hand, if your business involves a small niche, SEO would be a better choice since there isn’t a need to fight fast with your competitors. You’ll also be competing with websites that have lesser authority, so it’ll be much easier to outrank them.
Our Recommendation – SEO & SEM
We always recommend our clients to go for both SEO and SEM. The reason being SEO takes a few months to show progress if you are investing in SEO campaigns which help your business to reduce cost for advertising in long run, so in the meantime, Google Ads will be able to help your business to boost sale in short run and quickly.
How do SEO and PPC work hand in hand?
Both of them have their own pros and cons. However, when you include SEO and PPC in your digital marketing campaign, you are able to drive results with a much higher ROI compared to only one of them.
Here are some benefits of including both PPC and SEO in your digital marketing campaign:
- Keywords that cost more could be used for SEO instead of using them for PPC.
- Testing your keywords with PPC will be much faster, hence, you could experiment the keywords with PPC first in order to know which keywords work the best, and then use them for your SEO campaign.
- The data collected from PPC campaigns can be used for the SEO campaign since you are able to tweak the SEO campaign along the way.
With that being said, we hope you found this helpful! Of course, if you are looking for a digital marketing agency to help with your business, feel free to reach out to us!
Answer to Your Questions About SEO vs PPC
SEO vs SEM - What are the differences?
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is an online advertising model when users search on search engines with keywords and each time a click happened, you will pay based on how much you bid for that keyword. Google Search Ads are mostly based on this advertising model.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website landing pages with your targeted keywords & other SEO ranking factors – which allow you to rank higher on search engines. Help to reduce advertising costs in long run.
Which One To Choose - SEO or SEM?
If you are a startup business – we would recommend you to run an SEM campaign first to generate quick results and revenue. If you are an established company with more budgets, investing in SEO & SEM is a must to get quick results and also reduce your cost of advertising in long run.