Should you opt for PPC or SEO?

Getting to the top of Google – should you pay and display or play snakes and ladders? Whilst most people will know the importance of appearing on that all important first page of search results, the difference and comparative advantages and disadvantages of the two broad methods of getting there are often less familiar. These two methods are PPC (pay-per-click) using Google AdWords and organic SEO (search engine optimisation).

Google AdWords
To just touch the surface of AdWords, it advertises your website on the right hand side or sometimes at the top of results when a user enters keywords that match those you have specified for your campaign. If the user clicks on your advert you will be charged up to your set maximum amount depending on the competition bidding for that position.

Time to first results: PPC can produce almost immediate results if utilised effectively.
Results Sustainability: Google AdWords results are only achieved whilst the campaign is active and not paused, but does provide greater flexibility and control than SEO.
Measurability: Using tools and functions within the Google AdWords platform the effectiveness of PPC campaigns can be monitored and assessed precisely.
Pros and Cons: A honed AdWords campaign can effectively produce fast results, particularly when competition is high amongst organic results. Despite no necessity to adjust, improve and update your website (unlike SEO), PPC can prove expensive in the long-term (although the extent of this depends on the settings you select and the market price of your specified keywords).

Organic Results
Meanwhile, organic results are those generated by the search engine itself and are ranked depending on relevancy, which is itself determined by a number of considerations and variables. Top secret and regularly altered algorithms are used by the search engines for this process, but they can be influenced through simple technical and readability adjustments to your website or by more sophisticated means such as adjusting formatting and link structure.

Time to first results: Organic listings can take a long time to begin to improve as whilst some keywords may gain traction within weeks others may take months to progress.
Results Sustainability: SEO can be a bit like a game of snakes and ladders whilst you work your way up and as ranking systems and algorithms change, however good, strongly relevant pages can remain highly resilient to any such fluctuations.
Measurability: Using tools and functions within the Google Analytics platform for example, the effectiveness of Search Engine Optimisation can be monitored and assessed precisely.
Pros and Cons: Organic results generally benefit from higher click-through-rates and conversion rates, however, visitors only tend to click on the top handful of results so you have to get there first! To get there does involve investment in terms of both time and money, but the results of a well optimised and effective website are well worth the investment in the long-term and there is no charge per click. From then on it is also important to maintain and update the content to ensure it continues to be considered relevant and interesting by search engines and customers alike.

Both methods come with their own functional, financial and time-based advantages and disadvantages, but each can provide a substantial return on investment. However, it isn’t a case of choosing one or the other. Often the most fruitful campaigns come from implementing PPC and SEO together in tandem to achieve the results you need.

Paul Jackson

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

With almost a decade of experience in digital marketing, both in-house and agency-side, Paul is a CIM qualified Chartered Marketer with expertise and a refreshing approach. Paul’s experience with a diverse mix of brands in a wide range of industries has allowed him to see first-hand the importance of a tailored and business-oriented approach to marketing.