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SEO vs PPC – Which One Is Better for Your Digital Marketing?


Many of our new clients have this question: which one should they focus on first – PPC or SEO? While this might sound like an annoying answer by someone wanting to sell you as many services as possible, the honest truth is that ideally, you’d invest in both because they’re both important.

That being said, we realise that especially if you’re newer to marketing your business in earnest and/or have a limited budget, opting for both services can seem like a challenge. That’s why today, we thought we’d take a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of each digital marketing tool and give some examples of situations where one might be more appropriate than the other. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!


Top Four SEO benefits

1. Rank higher in organic search results. SEO (search engine optimisation) will help you rank higher in organic search results on Google and other search engines. You can improve your SEO with things like SEO-informed copywriting, link building campaigns and optimising your website in ways that’ll please search engine algorithms. 

2. Boost your E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust). Good SEO leads to Google seeing your website as a source for trustworthy information for your industry, promoting your website for search queries related to the things you write about on your website.

3. Long- lasting results. One of the key benefits of SEO is its long-lasting results. While it typically takes a while to start ranking for the relevant keywords you want to target related to your offering (such as “locksmith Edinburgh”), once you start ranking for those terms, you don’t need to work as hard to keep your position. 

In contrast, with PPC campaigns, you’ll stop getting traffic through to your website as soon as you pause your campaign. The results of well-run SEO campaigns are long-lasting and scalable. 

4. Lower cost. Another, related benefit is the relatively lower cost of SEO campaigns. While you’ll definitely benefit from hiring an SEO specialist to help you optimise your website, you won’t actually have to pay for each visit to your website like you would with PPC.


Three SEO challenges

1. It takes time. The biggest drawback to SEO is that organic search traffic and website domain authority take time to build. What this means is that it’ll take a while before you’ll actually start seeing results from your SEO strategy. One study found that just 5.7% of new web pages rank in the top ten results for at least one keyword in the first 12 months after publishing.

You might sink a considerable amount of time and money into an SEO campaign around certain keywords only to discover that your premise was flawed. Or, you could discover that when results do start coming in, the keywords you now rank for are no longer all that relevant to your business. 

2. Difficulty evaluating results. And with slow results and little intel available for website visitors from organic traffic available for privacy reasons, it can be hard to attribute success or failure to any specific thing. 

3. Search engine updates. We should also mention that search engine algorithms do get updated quite often, which could impact your website’s digital ranking that you worked so hard to achieve.



Top five PPC benefits

1. Target those who have shown interest. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) allows you to get your product or service in front of people who have shown interest in it through sponsored search engine results as well as display ads on websites as well as across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. These people are likelier to convert as they’re already familiar with what you do.

2. Target your defined buyer persona. One of the most important benefits of PPC is how granular you can get with your ad targeting; depending on your advertising platform of choice, you can target people based on things like their search terms, location, device type, age, sex, occupation and interests, just to mention a few. As you can see the demographics to which those who convert through your PPC ads belong to, you can also use this data in your digital marketing strategy going forward.

3. Testing your strategies. PPC also lends itself to testing out several marketing strategies much better than SEO due to the speed at which you’ll see results from your ads. While with SEO, Google often takes months to crawl through new website copy and backlinks and rank your website accordingly, with PPC, you start seeing how your efforts have paid off within hours of campaign launch.

This means that PPC makes for a great form of online marketing to run some experiments. You can run two almost identical ads at the same time to find which works better (A/B testing) and run short and sweet campaigns without too big an investment to see what your audience responds to best.

4. Feature above the fold. Another positive aspect of PPC ads is it gives you an opportunity to show up in search results for your relevant keywords before organic results and “above the fold” – as in before the searcher has to scroll down. This gives you an excellent chance of being discovered. Not only that, Shopping and Hotel ads allow your business to be featured in areas of the SERP (search engine results page) you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. These results look almost identical to organic search results.

5. More detail. With PPC, you can also add much more information than you could with an organic search result. Google search ads allow you to add things like reviews, your phone number and site links to your ads. And with display ads, you get to showcase your products through photos and videos.


Three PPC challenges

1. Burns a hole in your pocket. Yes, PPC can be expensive. Depending on your industry, you may end up paying a hefty sum for each click on your ads, so you need to consider carefully what a reasonable cost per acquisition is for you based on how much money each new client tends to bring in. 

And especially if you’re trying to run campaigns without the support of professional PPC experts, you’ll likely end up losing money in the first months of running your campaigns until you learn what works for your business.

2. Old news fast. While PPC campaigns start to bring in results quickly, this also means your ads will get old soon. This is what we refer to as “ad blindness” – once a person has seen a specific ad of yours a number of times, they become “immune” to it and just glance right over it. That’s why you need to refresh your ad creative (copy and images) regularly to keep grabbing people’s attention.

3. Bye bye traffic. PPC will only bring in website traffic for as long as you run your campaigns. As soon as you pause them, that stream of leads dries up. This means PPC campaigns need a continuous investment as well as active management for optimisation.



When is it better to use PPC vs SEO and vice versa?

PPC is great when you have something like a product launch or a limited time offer you want to get the word out on. It’s also ideal for building brand awareness through varied ads across multiple platforms – this can make it a great thing for newer businesses who might struggle to show up on the first page of Google search results organically. 

The granular targeting of PPC should also not be ignored. With SEO, you can only rank for things people actually search for, so for innovative new products, you can choose related keywords, perhaps in the form of questions, your offering is an answer to, or just rely on demographic targeting to get your website in front of the right people.

Meanwhile, SEO is the thing to go for if you want to boost your brand’s trustworthiness and authority. While people are hesitant to link to things like ad landing pages, they’re often more than happy to share links to something like useful blog posts. 

This will lead to increased traffic who are already interested in what you do and, as a result, Google will see you as an expert in your field. Something like an SEO-optimised longform guide will bring in quality traffic for years to come as long as you periodically review it for inaccuracies and broken links.

As we already mentioned, ideally, you’d stretch your marketing budget to cover both SEO and PPC. They’re both great for different things and together, they can be stronger as you can use intel you gather through running PPC campaigns to inform your SEO efforts and use some of the content you create for SEO to run informative, more inbound PPC campaigns.


How Bundle Digital can help

Here at Bundle Digital, we don’t believe in putting all your eggs into one basket. We offer digital marketing bundles specifically for SEO and PPC but tend to recommend the SEO+PPC bundle for the best possible results. 

We’re a digital marketing agency in Edinburgh that believes in transparency, consistency and building strong relationships. Interested in learning more? Read all about us here.