Comparing SEO and PPC: Which should you choose?

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Google is the most visited website on the Internet. Fact.

Approximately 80% of new website traffic is discovered via search engines. Also fact.

As a result, Google is the place to be if you are wanting your website to be discovered. There are various ways to ensure your website lists in Google’s search results. You have the option of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or PPC (Pay Per Click). Both of these options can be incredibly useful, but how do you choose which one to focus on? Should you choose just one or should you combine both?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of ensuring your website is search engine friendly with the aim of increasing your rankings. SEO increases your rankings which appear under the search box on Google (to the left of any paid ads).

If your website is optimised for search engines, you should appear high on their rankings which should lead to increased traffic. There are many techniques which can be implemented to make your website search engine-friendly. The techniques are split into two categories: on-site and off-site.

On-site SEO refers to actions you can take with your website design and content.

The website content should be unique, updated regularly and feature the keywords (or search terms) you are hoping to rank for. However, it is important that these keywords are not overused as this can appear spammy which is something the search engines do not like. We want to keep them happy, right? Right.

Off-site optimisation can in many cases be a more time consuming process. The off-site optimisation primarily consists of link building which is the process of obtaining incoming links to your website from other relevant websites.

Pay Per Click works in a different way to search engine optimisation. If you sign up to a PPC service, your website does not appear organically in the list of search results; instead it will appear to the side of results for your chosen keywords. You bid on a search term and if your bid is high enough, your website will appear on the Google results page. The only time you pay is if someone clicks on the link. So rather than paying per impression, you are paying per click as the name suggests.

The benefits of PPC include a guarantee that your website will be advertised (provided you are willing to pay enough) and with that, a higher chance that your website will be discovered by the user. However, depending on the search terms you are hoping to rank for, this can be an expensive option. You do have the option to set a maximum daily budget and this will vary greatly depending on the search terms and your desired volume of click-throughs.

To clarify; search engine optimisation improves your organic search results, whereas pay per click requires payment for each click-through generated.

So, which of these methods should you choose?

It really is completely dependant on what you are hoping to achieve. Good SEO should be done regardless, especially as a long term solution. PPC can be great as a short term solution while the SEO is being built up or as a boost in the run up to a product launch for example.

Both options can improve website traffic and increase sales. As a long term solution, you will need to optimise your website for the search engines otherwise you will fail to show up on the results page. This should most definitely be a priority. PPC can undoubtedly be a great boost to the organic search results but it should not replace SEO in any way.

As stated earlier, such a large amount of traffic is generated by search engines so there is massive potential for expansion by ranking highly. Ensure your website is optimised both on and off site and continually reassess your keywords, competition and keep a close watch on your rankings and make changes to your optimisation when needed.

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