Which is better? SEO or PPC?

Deciding between SEO and PPC?Once you have a website launched, the next question you need to answer is how you are going to get traffic to it.

Today you have a lot of options you can choose from. One way to get traffic is to pay for advertising with the search engines and other networks (such as Facebook). Or instead of paying for advertising, you can focus on getting your website found when people search for a solution that your business provides. You can also attract interest with social media. In this article we are going to look at advertising using PPC and ranking using SEO.

What is PPC?

A popular way to advertise is by using PPC. PPC means Pay Per Click. Often when you search on Google or Bing – you will see “sponsored” listings at the top of the page and/or to the right. If you click on one of these sponsored links, the advertiser will pay the search engine for that click.

It isn’t a simple flat rate. The advertisers bid for placement in the listings. You would think the highest bidder would always get the first spot, but this is not always true. Google and Bing take many factors into consideration, including the quality of the ad and the site and how well it matches the searcher’s query.

What is SEO?

SEO – search engine optimization – is the art and science of getting your website to appear in the coveted top organic listings (those that appear under the sponsored listings. SEO activities include optimizing your website pages to match the keywords that searchers enter into Google and the other search engines, and also promoting your site to get other websites to link to yours.

Which is better?

It depends on the answers to the questions below:

  1. What’s the competition like? The effort it takes to rank for a set of keywords can vary widely based on the market and how “niche” your keywords are. If you are a local business, using local SEO to rank for search terms that have your city name in them can be successful without a lot of effort and time. However if you want to rank for “car insurance” you will have to have a big SEO budget and time.
  2. What will be your PPC spend? Competition matters in the PPC world too. Some terms (legal issues are an example) are quite expensive to bid on.
  3. What’s your timeframe? To get traffic quickly, PPC will be much faster than SEO. New sites can take 3 months or more to rank consistently. You may want to consider using PPC to kick things off for your business until your SEO efforts start to pay off.
  4. Are you testing? Maybe you are creating a new landing page for a product you are offering. A focused PPC test can give you a lot of information on how well your page converts. This information can help guide both SEO and PPC efforts in influencing the headline you write and the keywords you use in both your PPC campaigns and SEO efforts.
  5. How do you want to target your audience? With advertising, particularly on Facebook, you can get fairly precise on who to advertise to. Google gives you the ability to select the geographic locations to advertise to. If you advertise on the display network (adsense ads) you can even choose the websites to advertise on. Facebook additionally lets you target certain demographics and interests. While you can target your SEO efforts as well, by its nature, SEO traffic will be less targeted – focusing only on the keywords used in the search query.
  6. What do your competitors do? If your competitors are heavy users of advertising and their sites are not well optimized, you should ask yourself why. It might be an opportunity for you to capitalize on their oversight, but then again there might be a good reason why they are focusing their efforts in one area over the other. Keep in mind, that certain types of sites (think a lot of content) lend themselves more naturally to SEO, and others more to PPC.

Many online businesses will employ both SEO and PPC campaigns to get traffic. To answer the question, which is better? the answer is neither, it all depends on what you want to accomplish and the market you want to compete in.

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3 comments
Jason Morgan says March 1, 2012

This has to be one of my favorite posts! And on top of thats its also very helpful topic for newbies. Thanks a lot for informative information!
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thesearchsource says March 1, 2012

This is very useful and popular way to advertise anything. Both have their own significance for the betterment of any work. The online businesses surely have to do SEO and PPC strong campaigns to get maximum traffic in less time. Thanks a lot.

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Peter Manfredo says July 17, 2012

Really owsome best way to simplify the confusion between PPC and SEO.

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