SEO vs. PPC: Which is Better?

4th June 2020

If you’re struggling to decide whether you should choose SEO, PPC, or both, then you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just starting out in the professional world, the concept of SEO and PPC can seem highly confusing, alien ideas to many people.

Since Google was founded in 1998, it has become a game changer for how we research, react and relate to the online world. Not only is it the most widely used search engine on the planet, it has created a competitive marketplace for online businesses across the globe.

Creating your online marketing strategy can be a tricky process packed full of pitfalls. Fortunately, our team of SEO and PPC experts have come together to provide you with all the knowledge you need so you can make an informed choice.

How does SEO work?

Search engines crawl websites to understand what they are about so that they can decide what phrases the website should appear for when customers perform a search. The search engine will then decide which websites appear higher or lower in search results based on order of relevance, using a huge number of signals to make this decision.

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is about optimising your online presence according to signals that search engines use, in order to be ranked as the most relevant website for search phrases that will result in sales for your business.

Old-school SEO meant a strategy that consisted of sticking the phrases (or ‘keywords’) that you wanted to appear for on search engines, all over your website. This used to generate results, however search engines have evolved since then in order to provide a much better experience for their users. Search engines understand that users don’t want to end up on useless websites with nonsensical keyword-stuffed content, they want to click through to quality websites that answer their search effectively.

It’s still important to ensure your website is worded in a way that’s relevant to the searches you want to appear for. However, search engines are now much more interested in the user experience your website provides, even looking at metrics such as how long customers spend on your site or whether they leave without exploring your site’s pages. A website that users interact positively with tells the search engine that this website must be relevant for the phrase the user typed in, and therefore should be ranked higher in search results when the phrase comes up again. There are many, many other elements that go into SEO, and building a successful campaign takes time, understanding, and effort to achieve.

What are the benefits of SEO?

Contrary to popular belief, SEO does not equal huge amounts of visitors to your site for the sake of it. Having hundreds of people on your website every day sounds great, but it’s of little value if they’re not the right target audience or you can’t convert them into paying customers once they’re on the site.

If done well, SEO will improve the quality of users visiting your website by helping you to appear for relevant phrases searched by an engaged audience ready to make a purchase. SEO should also result in a more competitive and user friendly website that works well, looks great, and generates sales.

How does PPC work?

PPC or pay-per-click is a method of attracting customers to your website through online advertisements. The terminology relates to you, the advertiser, who will pay every time a user clicks on your advert. The most popular way of achieving this is through search engine advertising. However, there are other ways such as through social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Unlike SEO, which is based on ‘earning’ visits to a site, PPC means you pay for them instead.

What are the benefits of PPC?

If your brand or product is unknown, or your website is struggling to attract a large number of visitors through more organic means, such as SEO, PPC can help create awareness of your business and boost traffic to your website. If your offering is well thought out, this will result in an increase in sales.

PPC can be an attractive option because, unlike traditional advertising, where you pay a cost upfront, as its name suggests, you only pay for each click you attract. Even better, you can also analyse and adapt your PPC campaign in real time so it works more effectively over time.

While advertising platforms have made it relatively simple to produce a PPC advert, it takes time to understand how and when updates and adjustments should be made.

Without the relevant expertise, this process of trial and error may lower your ROI and potentially end up costing you more in the long term. 

Do I really need SEO or PPC?

In short, yes. The old adage: ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply to owning a website. There are a vast number of sites being built every day and the online landscape is very noisy, with everyone vying to get a piece of the cake. The average website is a costly endeavour and can set a business back by thousands of pounds, so it’s natural to want to see a return on that investment. As it’s now more difficult than ever to compete online, ensuring you have a robust digital marketing campaign is all the more important.

A well planned SEO or PPC campaign will help you to get value out of your website by finding and encouraging the correct target audience to view it, and hopefully, purchase your product or service.

Should I choose SEO, PPC or both?

It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and the size of your budget. SEO and PPC are utilised for different purposes so it’s important to recognise what your objectives are before deciding to commit.

Understanding the differences between SEO and PPC will help you to make this choice. Put simply, SEO is a long-term solution that takes months to see results, however it’s more cost effective to run, and the rankings you achieve will continue to drive visitors to your website for years to come. PPC on the other hand will have an almost instant effect on your exposure and/or sales, however costly mistakes through lack of expertise are common, and if you stop funneling money into the campaign, you’ll see a fast drop-off in visitors achieved through advertising.

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Eloise Vass - SEO Manager

Eloise has over four years’ experience in digital marketing, having developed and implemented SEO campaigns for businesses large and small.

With a varied agency background, Eloise has been responsible for digital strategy for a diverse range of clients – from a niche B2B media company to a globally recognised toy brand.

When she’s not optimising our clients’ websites, Eloise enjoys travelling to far-flung destinations, trying out new restaurants, and discovering hidden gems in antique shops.

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