A question we are frequently asked by clients, the answer to which is never simple and definitely not as black and white as it might at first seem.
However, establishing a digital marketing strategy can go some way to solving this particular conundrum. By identifying our clients short, medium and long term goals, we can help them understand the whetherto’s and the whyfor’s between paid search and organic optimisation.
Search Engine Optimisation
Cost: ‘Free’ – You could argue that SEO is ‘free’ as when someone clicks on your listing in Google’s search engine results pages, you don’t pay a penny. However, you could also argue (and you’d be right) that there is a significant amount of work involved in getting your site to rank highly in organic search results. That outlay of work is where you’re going to incur costs in time and money.
Timescale: Slow – Believe us when we say there is a lot of work involved in gaining high rankings organically. You can write a lot of great content and build an impressive portfolio of backlinks but no matter how focussed your SEO strategy – your site will take some time to rise in the SERP’s.
Site Ranking: Fluctuates – Ranking is governed by a number of varying factors including the quality of your content, up to date keyword research and keyword rich content, optimised image size and metadata – just to name a few.
Control: Unpredictable – Organic SEO can be unpredictable as search engines like Google and Bing regularly move the goal posts by changing the algorithms responsible for deciding how your site ranks. You have to be up to date and aware of these updates and adjust your SEO efforts to maintain your ranking position.
Progress: Cumulative – You frontload all of your content creation at the start of your campaign and then track your rankings as they progress, adjusting and editing as you go.
Testing: Difficult – There are a number of different ways to test whether your content strategy and on-site optimisations have worked as there is no one hard and fast rule, but due to the unpredictable nature of rankings, testing can be tricky at times.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Cost: Paid – The price for ppc advertising can vary greatly depending on the cost per click for that particular search term. Each time someone clicks on one of your ppc ads, you incur a charge – hence the term Pay Per Click or PPC.
Timescale: Immediate – Once you have determined which search terms are the most important to your business, you set up the campaign, defining your spending criteria and then once Google Adwords or Bing Ads have approved the PPC campaign – you will see your ads immediately in the listings.
Site ranking: Fluctuates – This is one example where PPC and SEO serve one another. For those products or services that you want to be visible for, the relevancy of your content on-site for each specific adword can significantly reduce the overall bid cost. So, through optimising your sites content properly, like creating keyword specific landing pages, you can reduce the cost per click of your ad’s.
Control: Predictable – PPC results are very predictable as we can track the complete process from ad, to page, to outcome. Regardless of whether the outcome is a call, a purchase or completion of a form.
Progress: Instantaneous – You can track who is clicking on your ads from the moment they go live so progress is instant. That said, so is regression – if you stop paying for your ads they won’t be visible any more, which will mean reduced visitors to your site.
Testing: Easy – In any PPC campaign you are encouraged to write multiple ads with different criteria, that way you can measure and refine what is working and what isn’t.
So what do we reckon, SEO or PPC?
If this were a fist fight, betting odds would be 1/1. I don’t think anyone knows who would win the fight. The truth is, both SEO and PPC are important elements of successful digital marketing campaigns and they both have their place.
Certainly, be ready to ‘turn on the tap’ of enquiries with a PPC campaign, but don’t forget: stop paying Google or Bing, and the enquiries will stop too. But build up website collateral alongside consistent, well targetted SEO – and you’ll potentially have enquiries for years to come.