Yet another year has come and gone without a conclusion on one of the most heavily disputed disagreements in the world of digital marketing, leaving die-hard SEO experts and devoted PPC strategists at odds. Yes, the question still remains: which service yields the most results? SEO or PPC? 

Sure, it feels good to see your business’ Google ads start working right away, lowering your pay-per-click spending without spending copious amounts of time doing so. However, effective SEO strategies can make sure that your web pages rank first for years to come even if it takes longer.

It’s time to settle the debate and wave the white flag on both sides. That’s right – there’s no straightforward winner of this war. See, the decision to use SEO vs PPC really just depends on each company’s goals, digital marketing strategy, and situation. 

So now the question becomes, “Which one is right for my business?” That’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll help you understand the ins and outs, and the pros and cons of both services to help you decide on the perfect fit for the best results.  


What is SEO

You’ve probably heard the term SEO thrown around as a buzzword in the digital marketing space. SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization, and its goal is to make your web pages rank first in organic listings on Google and other search engines. There is a great deal of strategy that goes into making this happen. Marketers decide on targeted keywords that best fit your company, conduct technical onsite audits, and build links on other websites that help people discover your business. 

This is an in-depth and ongoing strategy that can take months to create and months to see results. However, patience is a virtue even when it comes to your search rankings. When SEO strategy is done right, you will be featured on Google’s first page any time a user searches for keywords related to your site.

The Effects of SEO

Like we said, search engine optimization can work wonders for your business but this labor-intensive strategy may not be the right fit right for you. Let’s dive into some of the specific pros and cons SEO could have on your business.

The Pros

Rank first in search results with SEO

SEO is Free

Unlike PPC marketing, where your business will pay for all your site’s clicks, SEO allows you to slowly move up the ranks to the first search engine results page without direct costs for the users you gain. Search engine optimization relies solely on a strong strategy executed over time. It is the best way to advertise and drive search traffic to your site if you don’t have plenty of funds to pump into advertising.

Long-term Results

Although creating the perfect SEO strategy takes time, the results will be worth your efforts. SEO brings long-term results to your site. Each time people enter searches on sites like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, your website will be featured on the top pages of the organic search results bringing in more organic traffic. Even when you scale back on your SEO strategy, it keeps working for your business.

Builds Credibility and Drives Website Traffic

We’ve all been guilty of giving up on our search after making it to the second or third page of Google search. That’s because we trust the websites that show up first to be the most reliable, most accurate, and most relevant to our search. With the help of search engine optimization, your page will show up on the first page of search engines, bringing more traffic to your site because it’s what your audience sees first. Potential customers will also perceive it as more credible because it’s at the top of organic search results without the help of ads.

The Cons

Cons of SEO

It Is Time-consuming

SEO will take time to perfect, and it takes even more time if you do it all by yourself. You will have to create numerous web pages for your website and make sure they are all optimized properly. You will also need to build your domain authority through targeted link-building campaigns by reaching out to other sites so they link back to yours.

Keep in mind SEO takes time and time is money. While it may not cost anything to boost your company’s website in the organic search results, you will have to pay someone for the time they spend building and executing your SEO strategy.

Don’t feel too overwhelmed with the amount of work that comes with SEO. If you don’t know much about it, there are countless free courses, videos, and podcasts to give you the foundational knowledge you need to start optimizing your site today. Trusted Search Marketing offers SEO services as well. Our team of experts knows how to make the needle move by implementing tried and true techniques that guarantee results.

It is Gradual

There is no such this as a perfect website and there is no such thing as being “done” when it comes to SEO! The more you grow, the more optimized your site becomes, and the more room you’ll have for improvement. You should always evaluate your SEO campaign to see what you could change to yield better results. Maybe that’s ranking for different keywords that match your target audience better. It could be conducting another technical audit. Maybe it’s ramping up your link-building strategy. It’s important to make sure that what you’re doing is working, and that you change it if it’s not! A digital marketing agency can help make these changes, too!

SEO is Competitive

While your business is working to execute its SEO strategy, so are your competitors. Keep in mind that you are up against numerous other companies who want to rank for the same keywords as you do, and they’re willing to spend time and money to do so. Big businesses often have more resources to give to search engine optimization than smaller businesses do, so their SEO may be more effective.

What Is PPC?

PPC is the acronym for pay per click, which is also called cost per click (CPC), paid search, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine marketing, search engine advertising, and search marketing. This strategy allows you to bid for keywords and “buy” clicks from website users. Basically, your company will pay the publisher of your ad every time it is clicked. This service can be an invaluable asset when it comes to growing your business because of its cost-effectiveness and flexibility. A PPC campaign is also helpful in terms of targeting your audience, as search engines will only serve ads on search engine results pages where and when they are relevant (a plus if you’re trying not to bother people with irrelevant messages).

The Effects of Pay Per Click

Just like SEO, PPC ads aren’t all sunshine and rainbows either. While they can increase your business’ sales quickly and target your audience specifically, paid search ads can also be expensive. We’ll give you the rundown on the pros and the cons of paid ads so you can make the right call for your business!

PPC ads can boost sales fast

The Pros

Instant Results

PPC helps you pay your way to the top! You do not have to go through the labor-intensive work that comes with SEO or wait long a long time to see the results. While it may take some time to design and develop your paid ads, you can pay to ramp them up in a matter of weeks and get immediate results. Before you know it, you’ll see your PPC ads ranking above the organic listings and getting in front of your audience.

Target Your Audience

Whereas SEO strategy helps your business with organic search rankings, PPC strategy can put your paid ads in front of the people you are targeting specifically. Your ads will be shown to the people who are most likely to become customers, so they are more likely to visit and buy from your site. Your paid ads can be targeted based upon keywords, demographics, locations, and audience to endure that they’re seen by the right people at the right part of the buying process.

Immune to Search Engine Algorithms

Your SEO strategy may be working well until Google comes out with a change in their algorithm, knocking your down in the search results you worked so hard for. With PPC ads, there are no algorithms to worry about. Your website relies solely on exposure from ads for its success or failure in the search engine rankings.

The Cons 

Pay-per-click isn't right for every business
PPC – Pay Per Click concept Businessman working concept ppc

It Can Be Costly

PPC is an effective and expensive way to promote your business or website. Unlike SEO, which can be done without investment upfront, PPC campaigns require you to pay for the clicks that come from your campaign. If your business wants to target a large group of people, then costs can skyrocket fast. Plus, if you want to keep running your PPC ads long-term, you need to keep paying for them. When you stop paying, your ads stop too. Keep in mind that, although it may cost money to keep your ads running, they’ll also keep increasing your sales, so it may be worth it. Make sure to track the effects of your PPC campaign so you can monitor profits compared to costs.

Short-term Impact

There is a limit to the effectiveness of PPC advertising, as you can only profit from it for so long because your clicks are limited. While your paid ads may bring in the results you’re looking for at first, it doesn’t usually last forever. This means you’ll have to create a new strategy and new PPC ads to use moving forward.

On the plus side, based on the data collected from your previous PPC campaign, you can make adjustments to the visuals, copy, target audience, and more, to create an even better ad the next time around! One of the most important aspects of digital marketing as a whole is making sure that your business constantly makes adjustments based on measured results. Adjusting your PPC ads allows you to reach more people and make more money

Consider Your Strategy: SEO vs PPC

SEO vs PPC: Make your call

You have to know your business goals and the timing of those goals before you can decide which is your best option. SEO and PPC have a very different time-to-outcome and it is important you not only weigh out which option will provide the right outcomes for your site but also which tactic – SEO or PPC, or both – will provide those outcomes within your desired timeframe.

For some websites, SEO is the best option. Content-heavy sites that rely on traffic for AdSense income, and to sell advertising on their site to other companies, will need to focus on building an audience. This is not fast. It can take months to get this type of site off the ground and really performing at a level that is producing the traffic numbers that may be desired, but there are many tactics within the world of SEO that support this, and will ensure solid long-term growth trends when executed properly.

These sites should utilize SEO techniques such as link building campaigns with high-quality sites that have an existing audience so they can grow by getting in front of other audiences; in-depth evergreen content pieces with huge long-tail keyword potential, and broad appeal; SEO video marketing to get in front of audiences who only digest audio/visual content; and flat website architecture with excellent keyword/topic optimization. It doesn’t make sense, from a business stand point, to spend money on PPC for a site that cannot turn each individual visitor into possible cash, and prove ROI.

For companies that need a constant influx of leads or sales, PPC is vital. PPC campaigns allow you to get your brand in front of the right audience very quickly. Often these campaigns can be up and running in as little as two weeks. Using paid search to drive lead generation or e-commerce traffic also insulates these companies from the algorithm changes so indicative of SEO, and prevent them from losing money if their site loses position in organic rankings.

On top of this, organic search is often a “nurture” channel, meaning that people use organic search to research a problem and possible solution. They may find your product or service through their research, but are not always ready to make a purchase. Paid search can be used to put your brand or website back in font of those researchers when they search again, and are closer to the bottom of the purchase funnel. It can also be used to reach consumers who have never heard about your business before, which is more difficult with SEO. Ultimately for these sites, though, the best option is to utilize both PPC and SEO. Where SEO is slow, PPC is fast. And where PPC is a constant expense, SEO produces lower cost per acquisition over time.

No matter who wins the war between SEO and PPC, either service can and will be effective for your business to help grow awareness, increase traffic and drive sales, just in different ways. So here’s the hard part: it’s time to make your call. SEO or PPC?

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