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Comparing PPC Ads vs. Organic SEO

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising vs. Organic SEO

The search engine has evolved significantly since the days of AltaVista and Ask Jeeves. Now, Google searches account for 74.28% of all desktop web searches, and 80.82% of all mobile searches. With voice searches becoming more popular as well, it is indisputable that search engines are the cornerstone for how internet users find information, shop, and connect with others. Both Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising and Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are ways that businesses can get themselves front-and-center in search results. Scroll on to read about the pros and cons of either approach.

What is PPC?

PPC is an online advertising model in which a marketer creates and launches an online ad, and pays each time a user clicks on one of those ads. There are different types of PPC ads, but one of the most common types are search ads, which appear at the top of a Google search results page, look like the other results, but indicate they are a sponsored ‘Ad.’

PPC ads appear according to the keywords that the marketer is targeting, and will show on mobile, for a local business or service search, or someone shopping for a certain item. Other types of PPC advertising include display advertising and remarketing (“Remember that shopping cart you abandoned? Here is a code for 10% off!”).

Comparing the two strategies

Organic SEO requires a significant amount of content curation, promoting your website around the web, building links on other websites that point back to yours, and keeping a vigilant eye on keywords and analytics. It is an investment of time, but is technically free. It also lasts longer, and tends to be compounding; when a webpage makes it to the top of Google search results, it is likely to increase in authority as people find it, click on it, and link to it.

PPC Advertising can create results overnight, but obviously requires a monetary investment to do so. You can choose the keywords that you want to target (pay for), and you can also specify the audience that you want to view the ad. Deciding which demographics you will target (age, gender, device type, geographic location, interests, behavior, etc.) means that you’ll ensure that your ad is being shown to a relevant audience. You can further customize how that ad appears (the text, the images, where it shows up on the web) and for how long. Analysis of the ad’s returns can happen on a day-to-day basis; small adjustments to the ad campaign and the addition of negative keywords allow you to only spend what is in your budget.

Do I have to choose?

The trade-offs are, in fact, complimentary—which means that a good marketing strategy can and should include both organic SEO approaches and PPC advertising. While you are taking the time to develop your SEO, use a PPC campaign to gain exposure. While the click-through rate for organic results is much higher than PPC ads, there are a variety of ever-evolving PPC formats (snippets, local, shop) that will deliver initial traffic to your website so that you can learn more about them. Watching the way your PPC traffic flows through your website will help you understand where it can be improved. And finally, while PPC most obviously is used to promote goods or services, you can use it to promote content, too—fast track your SEO by bringing greater visibility to high-value, keyword-rich information and downloads.

Want to talk to someone about a comprehensive online marketing plan for your business? Get in touch!

Erin has degrees in Philosophy, Linguistics, and Instructional Design, and taught English to international students at the University of Oregon. Prior to joining Ruby Porter, she was Project Manager with a local nonprofit, helping connect high school students to career opportunities, including internships in the tech industry.

Erin loves writing, storytelling, presentations, building relationships, and thinking deeply about brand identity. She plays and coaches ultimate frisbee (Go Birds!), loves cooking, hiking and camping in the PNW, and is an aspiring Cat Lady.

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