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PPC Marketing vs SEO – Which is Better?

PPC marketing and SEO are sometimes seen as polar opposites, but the two aspects of marketing are more similar than you may think. They complement each other to the benefit of your business. 

Instead of aligning these two powerhouse strategies, companies often treat them as two silos that function independently. While you might see marginal success with this method, you’re missing out on their full potential. 

Here’s how these two important marketing tactics stack up and how they can affect your business. 

The Advantages of PPC Marketing

PPC marketing, also known as pay-per-click or paid ads, is a quick way to get your content in front of internet users. Businesses target ads to be shown to a specific audience and pay each time that ad is clicked. 

These are the ‘promoted’ pages that you see at the top of search engine results or the ads that appear in the middle of an article you’re reading online. 

There are a few big advantages of PPC marketing, the first being those specific targeting abilities. You can choose to have your ad shown to groups that match certain location, demographic, interest, and behaviour criteria. 

Another major advantage is that paid ads return results much faster than SEO. Within a week, you can get a sense of what’s working and make changes to what is not. 

Some obvious disadvantages of PPC marketing are the cost and complexity. For large scale results, you’ll need a large scale budget that many small businesses may not have. It can also be difficult to get paid ads right. With creative, copy, targeting, and budget considerations, they can be quite complex campaigns to run. 

The Advantages of SEO 

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of optimising your website to be more easily found by search engines and displayed higher in search engine results to customers searching for specific words or phrases. 

A big advantage of SEO is that it often involves less of an upfront investment than PPC marketing; companies are not charged for clicks on organic listings. SEO results also tend to be longer lasting. These tactics won’t just boost traffic for a few weeks, but for months to come. 

However, those results are often slow to appear. It can take 4-6 months to truly see progress. SEO also lacks the detailed targeting abilities of PPC that help businesses reach the right customers. 

How do PPC and SEO Work Together? 

It may seem like PPC and SEO are two different beasts but there’s quite a bit of similarity and even more potential for overlap. Both PPC and SEO work to get your business seen by potential customers. Methods may differ, but when the two strategies work together, the results can be big. 

Keyword Synergy

One of the biggest similarities between PPC and SEO is keyword targeting. Both ads and content are optimised to match specific keywords or phrases that users are searching. There are a lot of tools to conduct keyword research but they are no substitute for seeing real results. 

As PPC and SEO campaigns play out, you get a sense of which keywords are most effective. Which phrases match true search intent? Which words lead to the highest clickthrough and conversion rates? 

Since PPC campaigns return results faster, they can be an excellent indication of which keywords are most valuable to target for SEO purposes. On the flip side, SEO campaigns are great for revealing search intent to inform better ad targeting.

For example, an ad campaign for a contractor may reveal that the term “home renovation” garners more clicks than “house renovation.” The contractor could then write a blog titled “Home Renovation Ideas” instead of “House Renovation Ideas.”  

That same contractor may want to run an ad targeting the keyword “refurbishing hardwood floors.” After some SEO research, though, they learn that users searching for that term are not looking for contractors, but rather instructions on how to do it themselves. Targeting that keyword would be a waste of an ad budget. 

This type of keyword sharing is best practice to maximise the effectiveness of both PPC and SEO. 

Content Optimisation

Just as keywords can be optimised, so can content. This is what SEO strives to do but sometimes it needs a little help. Since PPC results tend to come in faster than SEO results, PPC insights can be used to guide SEO strategy and optimise content. 

Paid ads combine creative and copy to capture attention and earn clicks. Some ads work better than others, though. One headline may resonate more with a certain audience than another. One message may be more effective than another. With long-running campaigns, you can even determine any seasonality that may exist for certain terms. 

Once you have these insights, you can translate them to better content. For example, let’s say a local cafe is advertising a new fresh roasted ethically-sourced coffee. They may run a few ads highlighting the origins of the beans and the unique roasting process of the hometown cafe. 

If the ad about ethical sourcing performs better, they may spend more time optimising the pages of their website with keywords related to that topic. Descriptions could include terms like “single-origin” or “ethically-sourced.” 

Thanks to these ad insights, the cafe doesn’t spend months waiting for SEO results only to find out they targeted the wrong words or chose the wrong messaging. 

Titles, descriptions, and topics can all be optimised much more effectively for search engines when PPC and SEO work together. 

Search Engine Domination 

Admit it, we all want our business to dominate a little bit don’t we? The first step is starting with the search results. 

A common search results page will feature paid ads above the organic ranking content. When PPC and SEO strategies are paired together, your business can be in both of these places. This gives you more “face time” with consumers and adds to your authority and credibility. 

For example, if you sell mens hiking boots, you may run ads for your most popular pairs. Informed by ad performance and SEO research, you may also write blogs on how to choose the right pair of hiking boots. 

If a consumer searches for “mens hiking boots,” they would see your ad first, followed by your blog on the subject. They are likely to remember your company name and view you as a trusted authority. It takes 5-7 impressions for consumers to remember a brand so the more they see you, the better. 

Which is Better? 

There are definitely pros and cons to both PPC marketing and SEO, but it’s nearly impossible to say that one is better than the other. Instead, the real value of them both comes from using the strategies together. 

Thanks to their similarities, PPC and SEO let you optimise content and keywords, and dominate the search engine results page. Instead of treating these as two separate entities, start looking for ways to synchronise them and you’ll be amazed at the results. 

Not sure where to start? Talk with our team to create your strategy.

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