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PPC vs. SEO: Which is More Important?

Robbie Bolog | February 17, 2020 | Digital Advertising, SEO

When it comes to promoting their websites and businesses, the number one mistake we see is people thinking they need to go “all in” on either PPC or SEO. If you take nothing else away from these two blog posts, please know this:

Never go “all in” on anything!

Just like your lawn needs both sunshine and water, your website needs both SEO and PPC in order to grow and flourish. 

Understanding PPC and SEO

First, some terms:

  • PPC stands for “pay-per-click” advertising–also sometimes called “paid search.” Have you ever noticed, when you use Google or Bing, that the first few returns have a tiny little “AD” label next to them? That’s because these are paid advertisements (hence the name “paid search”). Each time you click on one of these, the business being advertised pays a small fee (hence, “pay per click” advertising). 
  • SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” This can refer to many different tactics, but they all boil down to the same thing: Tailoring your website so that search engines can understand it, and will associate your site with specific search terms that your audience uses. The better your SEO, the higher you appear in “organic search”– which are the non-paid listings that dominate the search results pages served up by Google, Bing, and so on.

PPC vs. SEO: Which is Best?

So, which is better for your business–or audience, or budget, or situation–PPC or SEO?

Neither. That’s like asking “What’s better for my lawn: water or sunshine?” Neither; they’re very different kinds of sustenance.

PPC is good at:

  • driving leads—these are ads, after all
  • staying nimble—with a PPC ad campaign, you can get started driving results quickly, and change direction on a dime
  • low cost experiments—you can use PPC ads to cheaply test the waters and see what affect different approaches have on your ideal audience

The downside is that gains made with PPC aren’t very durable: Once you stop buying ads, the leads dry up and you cease collecting data on what people are doing.

SEO, on the other hand, offers:

  • durability—competitors come and go, as do ad spends, but an investment in your core website is a capital improvement, like being new factory equipment
  • long-term returns on investment—a well architected site with good content draws in visitors, even after you stop actively investing in its development and promotion

That said, these wins are gradual. SEO is a long play; it takes time to build up good solid core content and for search engines to recognize and digest how you’ve developed.  Also, overhauling your website can get expensive, especially for very large websites or businesses in highly competitive fields.

In our next post, I’ll run through the four key ways that you can use your PPC and SEO efforts to squeeze the most value out of each other. In the meantime, if you’re eager to explore how PPC and SEO can best be used to support your endeavors, we’re happy to oblige.

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