Why PPC Is Better Than SEO: Pros, Cons, Costs and Results
For optimal results you need both PPC and SEO, there is no doubt. You don't have to choose to focus on just organic or paid traffic and neither of them could be "wrong", however PPC and SEO have different benefits and bring different value to your business.
So which one is right for you, if you have to choose only one? It depends on your marketing budget, industry, how your business works and your resources. If you are to choose just one, we say PPC is almost always better than SEO. Here is why
PPC brings instant results with laser targeting. You can precisely target your audience based on keywords, geographical location, intent and content they consume. While you may not instantly get optimal cost per acquisition and the CPC or conversion volumes you were hoping for, you definitely get the quality traffic you're after. Furthermore, if a certain keyword, audience, location or age group doesn't work for you, you can simply exclude them from your traffic or adjust your bids.
Tracking & Insights - PPC is better than SEO mostly because Google, Facebook and other marketing platforms have excellent tracking and reporting tools. You can follow every step of the user journey and choose what you do with different segments of your traffic, based on how they interacted with your website. With PPC, you can easily and instantly determine which keywords work best for your brand and user behaviour for certain terms and their relevancy to your business.
Cool features. While organic search results offer featured snippets, image results and videos, Google ads offer visual product ads for shopping campaigns as well as other methods or making your ads stand out, such as price and extension location. These can be adjusted to match different audiences, demographics and age groups. You can still advertise your content using videos and images, across YouTube, Gmail and GDN.
PPC advertising allows flexibility. With any Pay Per Click ad platform, you can choose how you reach people based not only on what they're searching for, but who they are, where they live, the device they're using and much more. With SEO you entirely rely on users searching for the terms you rank for, visiting your website and then converting them through your landing page. While this may not be too bad, testing landing pages or totally different keywords becomes impossible. With PPC you can easily tweak content length, experiment with layouts and test different keyword variations.
PPC is not only better, but it's also cheaper than SEO. Here is the standard SEO scenario we see for small businesses: they spend money and time on ranking for competitive keywords, hoping to drive 'free traffic' to their website. While there is no cost per click, there certainly is cost for spending time acquiring back links, writing long blog posts, tracking organic positions, learning the 'latest in SEO', sharing your content on social media and most importantly, the cost of not acquiring new business while you wait for your website to rank. Think about the time and money spent paying staff salaries, buying mediocre back links and the time and effort wasted reaching out to website owners and influencers in your industry. Is it free and is it really cheaper?
You're one PPC campaign away from losing your #1 Position. If and when a website finally ranks on the glorious top position, it is sill vulnerable to Google updates knocking it off the top spot, as well as competitors' advertising. Despite their great SEO, many businesses are just one Google ads campaign away from having their traffic stolen. You may think that brand loyalty and good SEO is enough, and that your brand name is safe? How about this
It only takes a quick Google Ads campaign to hijack some of your traffic. Add a discount to it and converting organic traffic is now not so possible, despite great keyword ranks and all the SEO effort. Here is another example of cheeky marketing. Notice how both Ann Summers and SEMrush still bid on their own brand name, despite them ranking as top positions for both. Notice how even if they are #1 on Google organically, there are actually 3 results on top of the organic result, making it #4 on SERPS.
Google is pay to play. There is no denying it. Think about how often you search on Google for products, information and all types of services. Look at all the advertisers and how competitive the search results pages have become. If you are a retailer ranking organically for 'zero waste', will your organic page even be seen in search results, with all the images, search ads and featured snippets or videos?
Let's take a look at some real data. This is a screenshot of an eco-friendly retailer's organic performance on Google. We can clearly work out that the click through rate from organic searches just isn't brilliant, not to mention organic traffic conversion rate. Click through rate is 27% on their brand name - that's pretty high for a CTR but what happened to the other 73% of traffic? Did they end up buying from competitors who offered a discount or were they looking for store information? We will never know.
Another example are the product search terms below - as you can see, plenty of impressions with little clicks.
However, SEO will work for you, eventually. While ranking a brand new website is difficult, older, high-quality websites attract organic traffic and have the potential to convert casual visitors into clients. Good marketing doesn't start or end with PPC or SEO - they're just means of attracting traffic to your website. How you sell your product and the value you bring into your clients' life is what matters when turning visitors into clients. A good way to test your website and keywords is through PPC - drive some paid traffic to the keywords you want to rank for and check how well they convert for you. To avoid disappointment don't drive the traffic to a landing page with multiple CTAs and forms, drive users to the blog post you want to rank and see the results before you put time and effort into optimising for search engines.
SEO is a sustainable source of traffic. While it may take time to rank your website and drive organic traffic, organic traffic will always exist. SEO requires less maintenance than a PPC campaign - you can relax while it works, no tweaks or adjustments necessary. If in certain situations you need to cut back your marketing spend or simply don't have the resources to manage your paid ads anymore, organic traffic would still bring valuable visitors to your business.
Brand Authority & Trust - While PPC is better than SEO when it comes to results, some users would still trust organic results more than paid ads. This is especially true when searching for informational content when they're not quite ready to make a purchase or sign up for anything. Your website appearing in the search results adds credibility to your brand. You can capture prospective clients at the beginning of their journey, establishing yourself as an industry authority.
Getting Past AdBlockers. It seems like no one in the PPC world talks about getting past AdBlocker, because the best way to do that is by organically ranking your website. Arguably ad blocking software is one of the main reasons why we see much less engagement and conversions from desktop. The alternatives include CPA platforms using pop-under ad formats which allegedly get past any ad blockers. Some secure browsers come with a built, in ad block software, making it impossible to advertise to visitors using those websites.
SEO and PPC work together, they're not polar opposites and serve the same purpose through different means. Most small businesses can choose to focus on just one strategy, so make sure you make an informed decision if you choose to work on SEO without spending a penny on your paid advertising.