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We are often asked, “Which is better: SEO or PPC?”

There is no obvious answer to that question – it really comes down to your strategy, objectives and requirements.

Understanding how your customers use the web is key to determining whether paid search, organic search or a combination of both is the best approach for you.

In this post, we’ll look at SEO and PPC and provide tips in choosing the right approach for your business.

SEO: Improving your organic traffic

Awareness: Visibility for your targeted keywords puts your business in front of potential customers, driving brand awareness.

Credibility: Appearing at the top of organic results can influence your credibility with an audience looking for your services. Many users skip ads and trust organic results more highly. Strong reviews and reputation signals will deliver further benefit.

Traffic: Increasing traffic provides you with more opportunities to drive awareness.

Improved click-through rate: A higher percentage of users click on the organic results. While there are exceptions to this rule, you will generate more clicks from a highly placed organic listing than from a highly placed paid ad.

Strategic advantage. Visibility in organic search is not quick or easy — which is a good and a bad thing. Once you have established yourself in the organic results, your competitors can’t simply buy their way in (assuming you have done things the right way). This can provide a strategic advantage over the competition if they are relying on paid search. Unlike paid search marketing, organic traffic does not dry up the moment you stop paying.

Cost: Traffic from organic search is free, although development will take time.

PPC: Targeted visibility

Position: Paid search dominates above-the-fold content. Users will always see the paid ads first, even if they choose to scroll past them.

Visibility: Paid search ads will get you seen by the right people. Even if they back off and conduct a brand search before clicking through to your site, that visibility will pay dividends.

Targeting: PPC provides a laser-targeted way of getting in front of potential customers. Ads can be targeted by keywords, location, language, device, demographics and more.

Speed: Whilst developing organic visibility takes time, a PPC campaign can be created and launched in a matter of days.

Marketing intelligence: Where organic search largely hides keyword data, there is no such limitation with paid search. With conversion tracking and solid analytics integration, you can determine what keywords convert, at what percentage and cost. This intelligence can then be fed directly into your organic search efforts.

A/B testing: Easily split-test ads, landing pages, and even call-to-action buttons to determine where the best results lie.

Cost: PPC allows for tighter control of budget. You determine how much you are willing to spend and set a fixed limit. On the plus side, AdWords does not suffer the same turbulence that organic search can suffer from.

SEO or PPC?

It’s difficult to answer this question without taking the unique requirements of a business into consideration.

A hyper-local business with little competition could develop good visibility in local and organic search results with a little spend or some DIY SEO.

An e-commerce store competing with the major players is likely going to struggle in organic search – in the short term, at least.

Do you need leads? Are you looking at the long game? Do you have much in the way of authority? What is your organic competition like? What is the cost per-click in paid search for your chosen keyword?

A knowledgeable team, a clear digital strategy and short-and-long-term goals are essential in helping you make the decision.

If you’d like to get started with SEO or PPC, or develop your existing strategy – connect with us.

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