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Search Engine Marketing: Differences and advantages between SEO and PPC

Google, Bing, Yahoo… Regardless of the source, search is undoubtedly an important step in the purchase journey. Some industries are almost entirely reliant on search-driven leads. Research suggests that more than 90% of consumers use search engines before making a purchase decision.

The ultimate goal in search engine marketing is to achieve high first-page rankings. There are two types of search engine results: Organic and Paid. Each are important and the most effective marketing strategy includes both. But, what are the differences? Is one better than the other? Is there more to achieving effective lead generation from search engines?

SEO: Search Engine Optimization (Organic)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are ongoing efforts to improve organic search engine rankings. SEO efforts can be simple or complex multi-faceted approaches.

We believe firmly that SEO needs the multi-faceted approach to be successful, which is why we diversify our SEO efforts into six categories that include blog posting, directory optimization, backlinking, keyword optimization, website health audits, and even social media posting. Combined, these tactics guarantee fresh keyword-laden content, increased credibility in search engine algorithms, and healthy, fast, and functioning websites.

With SEO, your investment goes into these activities. Impressions and clicks themselves are free. SEO is a long-term investment. It can take months to see noticeable return, but those results also tend to stick longer.

Another crucial benefit to SEO is Local Listing Optimization (LSO), including Google My Business and other online directory optimization. These efforts target “near me” location-based searches.

PPC: Pay-Per-Click

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) are premium and direct-placed ads in search engines. These are bid through an auction system, where supply and demand influence cost. Your investment is always capped at a maximum budget, but the cost per lead will vary by industry, competition, search volume, geography, and even seasonally. PPC effectiveness is judged by your impression share – the percentage of time that your ad loads during targeted searches. No ad ever loads 100% of the time. It is influenced by the supply/demand mix against budget.

Unlike SEO, PPC results are immediate, but they also discontinue immediately once investment ceases.

Advantageous of PPC

  • PPC is more controllable than SEO. Advertisers fully control the message, destination, and targeting. With organic results, the search engine determines these factors based on complex algorithms which may or may not be lead-generating.
  • Directly targeting competitor “branded” searches is far more likely here. A branded search is when a consumer uses a brand or company in the search phrase.
  • Less reliant on physical location. Unlike SEO, which is largely dependent on proximity, you are instructing the search engine on where you want to target with PPC. This is beneficial when targeting consumers outside of your home location.
  • PPC ads are seen by all. While the click share of organic versus paid is roughly equal, PPC ads are placed above organic and therefore guaranteed to be seen by all. Even though not every clicks on paid ads, those who do are less likely to scroll to view organic beneath. Without a PPC ad, this means you are automatically missing about half of all searchers.

Which is better?

The most effective strategy incorporates both, but budget constraints can certainly exclude the possibility to utilize both. Many factors play a role in determining which to choose, when using only one tactic. “Near me” searches definitely benefit from SEO versus PPC. In most cases, however, PPC is the preferred tactic of the two. It’s more controllable and offers the biggest potential reach. We can help you decide which tactic or tactics is best for your situation. 

What about bidding against national competitors?

Local advertisers don’t need big budgets to compete with national competitors. In most cases, national companies bid on a broader geography without preference to local. Their ads will land where it’s most cost effective, whereas local campaigns are specifically targeting to local searches and will pre-empt those geographically broad ads.

Search Engine Marketing effectiveness isn’t exclusive to SEO and PPC

It is important to note that the effectiveness of a search engine marketing campaign isn’t exclusive to SEO and PPC. Consumers still need to be stimulated to conduct a search, and when they do, 70% of consumers click on brands they recognize. For both reasons, top-funnel branded campaigns are just as important in search engine lead generation as SEO and PPC. We can help you craft a multi-product marketing solution customized for your needs and budget.