SEO and PPC have grown hand in hand for brands that look for multiple growth opportunities.

However, a business must know which is most suitable for growth? Is it SEO or PPC?

Does your brand have a good ad budget? Or, you rely on organic growth more?

These are some of the questions that come into the mind while choosing between SEO or PPC.

Below, we would be sharing our knowledge on SEO and PPC based on certain parameters. And how you can consider the best option for your business growth, whether it is direct conversions or long-time engagement & retention.

What are SEO and PPC?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of building brand presence and online visibility. And, in turn, increasing the free organic traffic using various techniques such as link building, content marketing, etc.

Pay-per-click (PPC) is the business model in which businesses pay for each click they receive on their advertisements. The pay-per-click model is a paid strategy to gain new customers. The ads appear on top of the search results and before the organic rankings as shown below.

When is SEO best for your brand? 

According to research, 60% of the marketers in 2020 believe that building SEO and brand presence is their topmost priority.

SEO is more focused on the organic growth of your brand’s website. Organic growth, though takes time to build, provides you with multiple benefits as listed below.

Awareness and Branding

SEO is used to create awareness among the target audience. Every web page that you try to rank in SERP for targeted keywords provides information to your users. And hence the increased awareness for both; the brand and its resources.

For example, if I am looking for a cruelty-free clothing brand. A simple google search will help me find suitable retail stores. The results on the top page create an impression in a user’s mind that the particular brand is well known for your preferred clothing products.

In fact, your blog resources like FAQs, Knowledge base, etc, play a crucial role in branding and awareness.

Trust and Credibility

Yet another important aspect of SEO is that it builds trust and credibility among your audience.

Understand it in this way.

A user trusts the search engine for varied queries and content consumption every day. When a search engine display results on the top page, users trust the efficacy of the search engine. Hence, the top results fetch credibility and trust factor. And every next time, when users make another query, they will immediately associate your brand with the most trusted source of information.

Some of the things you can do to increase trust and credibility further are as follows.

  • Include your media presence on your brand website. Include your press releases and other important announcements.
  • Include the awards and achievements section on your website.
  • Include sufficient contact details such as email, phone number, customer support links, geographical location, etc.

Boost in site traffic

The top five organic results on search engines fetch 67.60% of all clicks. You can estimate the traffic it gets out of daily 3.5 billion searches per day on Google itself, let alone other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, etc.

SEO boosts your traffic as organic results get higher visibility in search engines.

To rank in organic results, unique, informational, and engaging content plays a crucial role. Other strategies include link marketing, mobile-friendly site, and so on.

Cost-effective model

Organic search results do not charge any amount from businesses unlike pay per click model.

Although, optimizing your website for organic search requires time, effort, and money for tools. Once done, the conversions come at a lower indirect spend and give the ROI for the long run.

SEO is cost-effective when compared to other marketing strategies.

SEO is sustainable

Every marketer knows it takes time and effort to rank in organic search. But what’s interesting is, once you make it into a top organic search, the benefits are to stay for extended periods that are sustainable.

What are the cons of SEO? 

Any marketing practice has pros as well as cons. SEO is no exception to that. Below are some of the cons of using SEO for organic search.

High competition from well-established brands

SEO has long been used in the practice since 1991. There are developments and regular SEO algorithmic updates. Brands that are adopting SEO from the beginning, rank on top.

This poses a challenge for new businesses as merely building content and competing for targeted keywords is not going to bring in results quickly.

Especially, this is difficult for e-commerce brands as the tech giants like Amazon, Flipkart, etc fetches most of the clicks and conversion in organic search results.

Requires good content strategist and writers

Generating content is not an easy process as it requires research and continuous effort. At an organizational level, it may be easier to have good content resources. But when it comes to small businesses and SMEs, it is possible not to have a complete in-house content team.

To rank on top search results marks the need for exceptional content, a solid link-building strategy, etc, which requires an experienced content strategist.

Simply dumping content in hopes that more quantity content will drive conversions is not going to work.

SEO doesn’t always give direct conversions

Though SEO is done to get visibility on top SERP, brands look for generating revenue through it. If readers simply come, read your blog, and leave the page, then it is not resulting in direct conversion, but an increase in traffic.

Often it is challenging for businesses to drive conversion through their content resources as the audience is from different stages of the funnel. Your content is consumed by your existing customers, new potential leads, and other broader spectrum of the audience.

Care needs to be taken while considering which content asset targets your specific target audience.

When is PPC advertising best for your brand?

Above we discussed how SEO helps in the organic visibility of brands. The question is, why would a business opt for a paid strategy to do the same? Let us understand the benefits of using a paid advertisement for a company’s growth and how you can choose between SEO vs PPC for your business growth.

Best position on the search result page

As shared in an example at the beginning of this article, PPC advertising appears before organic listings.

On desktop, generally, three to four ads appear on top. And on mobile three ads appear on top. A user searching for any query would need to scroll down through the PPC advertisements to see the organic results below on the page.

This, in turn, makes PPC advertising more powerful at times than SEO.

Bundle of information in single PPC ad

Paid advertising has improved with time. Today, one can even include their company’s location, website and subpages URL, pricing, features, and much more.

When a single ad provides multiple information-sharing resources from a brand, it is impossible to keep them limited to SEO. SEO gives visibility through single URLs in search results.

See an example below for a paid ad that includes a lot of information, which otherwise would have not been possible to display through organic search.

Rich ads with images

PPC advertising allows brands to include visuals in their ads. Imagine, when on one hand, organic results include the title and meta description, at the same time, PPC advertising displays attractive ads with rich images and videos.

Using images in ads gives the added benefits of receiving higher click-through rates. You must have noticed how product carousels appear on search results while shopping for products.

Below is an infographic from Wordstream, displaying the average click-through rates of PPC ads across different industry verticles.

Increased Brand visibility

It is no doubt that top results on a search engine get visibility through lakhs of impressions and even more. As PPC advertisements highlight branding parts like company name, website, location, it increases brand visibility at the same time.

So the next time, your customers search for any query, they are bound to remember your brand from past ad experiences, even if a user decides not to click on ads.

A budget that’s suitable for your business

PPC advertising, though it is paid, does not necessarily mean it is expensive. Google Ads allows brands to control their ad budgets.

You can choose to decide your budget, be it a small or a bigger organization.

Better targeting with PPC advertising

PPC advertising allows you to target very niche audiences straight on their devices.

You can target your audience through well-researched keywords, the specific timings and day of the week, based on languages, browsers, varied geography, and more. Whereas targeting through the organic search is more scattered.

Faster implementation of PPC advertising

Ranking your website on top of organic search consumes time. It could take a month to even more than a year just to get the visibility. When it comes to PPC advertising, the ads are quickly implemented and bring in the results within days. You can later optimize your ad campaigns based on past ad reports and data.

Split testing through Google Ads

Google ads allow you to test your campaigns in real-time. You can do A/B testing on different ad formats, landing pages, CTAs to choose the most rewarding ad campaign. Though you can do split testing on your content assets as well such as for blog title, meta description, etc. However, ad platforms provide a much comprehensive solution for A/B testing with a simple user interface.

What are the cons of using PPC advertising? 

If PPC advertising is good in all terms, then what are the cons of using it?

Careful bidding and expensive setup

While using an Ad platform like Adwords, you can easily set your preferred ad budget. However, your ad budget can easily spike up if the bidding is done with strong competitors. When you target an online space with your target keywords, you are occupying the space of another competitor. And thus that reason that bidding comes at a higher pricing model.

Also, when you run ad campaigns at a larger scale, such as running international campaigns which require more audience and targeted regions, it can manifold your ad spend.

The lower lifetime value of Ads

Search engine ads appear on top results till your keep paying the provider. You can leverage the benefits during this time period.

However, as soon as you stop paying, the ads are not displayed and your ad traffic can come down to Zero. The longevity of your Ad benefits remains limited till the ads are displayed.

On the other hand when you look at SEO benefits, though it is a slower process of ranking your website, the results could be seen even after many years of your hard work and efforts.

PPC advertising requires continuous monitoring

Running an ad campaign is not an easy task when you are a newbie in it. It takes years of experience to understand the complex processes of bidding, doing live monitoring of the campaigns, assessing the results and revenue, understanding click-through rates, and much more.

As a company, if you have an experience Ad professional, it will be a lot easier to run ads at scale and revenue generation.