When you are starting a brand new website or campaign, you want to ensure that you can drive traffic and produce measurable conversions. You have two options: SEO and PPC. Which one should you choose?
Numbers never lie, so let’s start with a look at some recent statistics, courtesy of Webpagefx.
- 93% of users begin their online visits through search engines – that means only 7% go directly to a website whenever they get on the internet.
- 70% of people click on organic results – in other words, they ignore the sponsored ads altogether.
- 75% don’t go past the first page of the results generated by search engines.
- 14.6% of SEO leads become profitable conversions – compared to 1.7% of outbound leads. So, anytime you get 1 client through paid leads, you will get 8 (and a half) more from organic leads.
- For every $1.60 a business spends on AdWords, they will make $3 on average.
- 41% of all clicks go to the top three paid ads featured in the search results.
- Brand awareness is increased by 80% through ad in search engines.
- 65% of conversions are from users who come to search engines with intent to buy and click on ads.
Either way you go, you are guaranteed to generate good leads and a percentage of conversions. Both roads come with risks of their own and you have to make sure you execute your plan properly to avoid wasting time and money on strategies that will not work.
Pros of SEO
Bottom line, SEO is free (if you do it yourself) or more cost-effective than PPC if someone does it for you. Obviously, you will spend more money on CPC through paid advertisement to gain conversions than you would on conversions through organic traffic.
A benefit that often goes unrecognized in the early stages of campaigns is SEO’s sustainability. Although you do need to invest a lot of time growing and nurturing your rankings, links, and content, the effects can be seen for a long time. If you do it right, your SEO efforts should net you conversions for years to come, creating passive income for yourself.
Any traffic you net through SEO can be counted as profit because they count towards page views, rankings, and visibility you can capitalize. While PPC may bring you $3 for every $1.60, you still need to spend that $1.60 to get $3.
Cons of SEO
SEO is a wonderful tool but while you do not need to invest much money in SEO, you will need to invest time. “Time is money” so don’t waste your time working on SEO campaigns that will not bring conversions. SEO does not work overnight, your content may not register on Google’s index for days, and you will not see the fruit of your labor quickly.
You also need to keep up with the algorithms search engines use. Normalized trade-tricks today can become black hat offenders tomorrow. For example, back linking increased ranking a few years ago but can get a site blacklisted today if it is not done properly. When your engine releases its updates, evaluate how your processes need to evolve in light of current regulations to stay on top of the game. This is especially true for any “cash cow” passive income generating products or posts on your site. If the way you promote those pages through SEO is suspect under new regulations, you will be penalized.
Unlike PPC, there is no guarantee that you will rank on the first page of Google for a keyword, and unless all your users are among the 25% that go past the first page of search results, you will not gain any traffic from SEO.
Pros of PPC
PPC is very different from SEO; its best benefit is guaranteed traffic. Most users will click on ads because they intend to buy a product or service, and, if you nurture the right keywords in your ad, you can turn over a good profit margin fairly quickly because PPC gives you near-instant results.
Cons of PPC
PPC requires a roomy budget to fund advertising costs. Different keywords are sold for varying amounts of CPC. Insurance, Loans, and Mortgage are the top three keyword categories and cost $54.91, $44.28, and $57.12 per click respectively. The cheapest key word in the top twenty categories is “Cord Blood” which sells for $27.80 a pop. If you spend money on PPC in a cutthroat market with competitive keywords, your CPC may net you more losses than profit.
You will also need to learn how to optimize your ads for various platforms and audiences. If you do not, the gap between your CPC and CTR will be ever widening. If, for example, you are using PPC in the insurance market, the customer can click onto your page and leave for no other reason than aesthetics. You have just lost $55. Multiply that by your target range. Are you feeling the pain yet? SEO requires optimization as well, but with little or no cost.
Another downside of PPC is that it is not sustainable. You will have a lot of conversions and much more traffic in the initial stages of the promotion and sponsorship but after the money stops, the conversions will trickle. There is no such thing as passive income with PPC.
Which Battle should you fight?
What it all boils down to is time vs. money. If you don’t want to invest the time and have the money, PPC might work very well for you. If you work in retail, this can be a boon since you can factor the cost of PPC into your cost and profit margins. If however, you run a blog and don’t really have a product or service to monetize, you will be better off focusing on SEO.
If you are looking for passive income and sustainability, start your battle with SEO. It’s slow going and your earnings will be dismal at first, but once you have a solid ROI and momentum, you can work in PPC and maximize monetization of your most popular pages.
If you need instant turnaround, PPC (through Facebook, Google, and Bing) is your best bet. If you have a good team or system in place to manage your budget and track your expenditures and profits, you can do very well. Maximize your PPC traffic by working it through SEO so that the paid traffic can become organic and sustainable over time. You will likely plateau during the transition, but you should be able to build your way back up with SEO while focusing PPC on other pages and continuing the cycle.
You will grow with both PPC and SEO, but through different tangents. SEO requires time, patience, and nurturing while PPC requires a good budget strategy and greater upfront costs. You can become highly successful overnight with PPC, so long as the money continues to pour in. You can’t really go wrong with PPC or SEO, what you choose largely depends on your needs and available resources. No one method works 100% of the time for 100% of users. Give yourself room to experiment with both before you settle on one. Also remember that one method does not exclude the other. No matter what you use as your initial method, you can always incorporate the other as you grow.
About The Author: John Munday is the head of marketing at GravIT – an IT Company based in Geelong, Australia. They specialize in IT solutions for small to medium-sized business. In his spare time, he enjoys giving back to the community by sharing his knowledge on marketing.