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SEO Vs PPC: Which is more Effective at Driving Traffic?

James Perrin

by James Perrin on 26th October 2011

TrafficFor years businesses have used the Internet as a platform to market themselves. They have continuously looked to drive and convert traffic using a variety of different marketing methods.

The marketing tool that any business chooses to employ needs to be specific to their needs and overall goal. So for any business owner who may not be well versed in Internet marketing, the decision to choose the most effective strategy can be quite a difficult one, but it needn’t be.

That’s because traditionally there are two very effective ways of driving traffic to any site, SEO and PPC. Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising web pages to enhance their position for specific keywords within search engines. Pay per Click is when your business appears in the advertised search results, and thus they would literally pay for every time someone clicks on their advertised listing.

SEO is a fantastic long term strategy

Making your website appear more prominently in the search engines is becoming more and more of a goal for businesses, but this method takes time [See: How Long Before I Get Results From My SEO Campaign?] The surprising thing is that SEO actually provides approximately 75% of your search traffic, yet businesses actually spend relatively little on SEO in their online marketing budget.

There are many factors that are considered when ranking a website, and anyone in SEO will tell you that this list is ever changing, especially when search engines update their algorithms. For the most updated list, SEOMoz provide a thorough analysis of search engine ranking factors.

SEO provides a constant source of traffic, but this method is very competitive and rankings are never guaranteed. This way you’ll need to invest a lot of time and money into getting your website to rank on page one. Therefore, you need to consider your budget and how much you’re willing to spend.

To get visitors to visit your site stay for longer and actually return directly to your site, then SEO is the method of choice. So whilst you can certainly target specific pages to promote a specific product or service, you also want to target your Home page; allowing users to see all of the services and products on offer and letting them navigate accordingly.

Therefore, whatever type of site you have, you’ll benefit from an increase in traffic over time with an SEO strategy. Fewer and fewer people are searching beyond page one or two in search results, so SEO is definitely worth pursuing, especially if you have the time and money to do so effectively.

PPC produces instantaneous results

If your website has a specific product or service that you’re looking to promote, let’s say if it’s just been launched, then using PPC is the most effective method. This is especially true for e-commerce sites. You can track the user’s journey from when they’ve clicked on the listing yielded from the search results, with the aim that they convert and actually make a purchase.

Whilst PPC actually yields less than approximately 25% of your search traffic, it is in fact where most of any businesses online marketing budget is spent. Why? Well because it is so easy for a business to set up an account, the hard part is actually making it work for you, and this is often the common misconception with PPC.

If you don’t manage your campaigns correctly, this method can get quote costly. This is because you may be targeting the wrong type of keyword with the wrong match type. Here is a an excellent PPC advertising video guide for beginners thanks to @Koozai_Sam, whilst @Koozai_Alec has written a fantastic post of match types and the most effective way to use PPC [See: Keywords, Match Types and Triangulation for AdWords].

Therefore, for this marketing strategy to be most effective it is so crucial that you understand how to manage your campaigns properly. This is especially true if you’re a small to medium sized business trying to compete with those who have larger budgets.

Combine the two methods

In actual fact both strategies can actually aid each other. PPC is fantastic at driving traffic to visit a product page, but SEO will actually make visitors stay that little bit longer. If you have the right type of content and the right type of keywords in your content then you’ll attract far more loyal visitors that’ll keep returning over time.

Relying on a single method isn’t uncommon, and for many businesses they choose the one that best suits their needs, budget or capabilities, but for e-commerce sites in particular having presence in both the paid listings and organic listings will boost your Click through Rate immensely.

Finally it is worth mentioning that there are many other online marketing methods to consider including social media marketing, local search and even news. In terms of search engine marketing, the Holy Grail is to utilise both methods, but for instant traffic choose PPC and for a more sustained and loyal traffic then choose SEO.

Learn about our Pay Per Click Management Services.

Image Source

Traffic light via BigStock

James Perrin

James Perrin

Content Marketing Manager, James Perrin is a regular contributor to the Koozai blog. Well experienced in sales and marketing, James also has a passion for journalism and media, especially new media. From the latest industry related new stories to copywriting advice, James will provide you with plenty of digital marketing information.

10 Comments

  • Boudewijn Beks 28th October 2011

    Hi,

    I agree on your view about when and why to use SEA or SEO. In the end it all boils down to selecting the most value for your money. I think it is key to grab the ‘low hanging fruit’; both SEO and SEA wise. A combination of SEO and PPC can indeed be the most productive.

    An interesting addition to this is that research shows that it pays to be present in both SEO and PPC rankings. The combination of these factors leads to psychological effects such as the mere exposure effect, truth effect and second opinion effect. Briefly put: more exposure makes you more convincing. One can take this into account by selecting their most profitable PPC keywords and use these as a starting point for their SEO keyword list.

    In addition to this I want to note that we are currently working on a project in which we compare the synergy between PPC and SEO. Keep watching our tweets :-)

    Best regards,
    Boudewijn | Netsociety

    Reply to this comment

  • James Perrin

    James 28th October 2011

    Hi Boudewijn,

    Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right, the effect of appearing in both the SEO and PPC listing will certainly improve CTR, as you say, because you appear more authoritative and appealing to the user. I guess the Holy Grail is to have your paid listing and SEO listing right next to each other, which ultimately means getting to that number one spot in the SEO listing; easier said than done right?

    I look forward to reading about your project, sounds very interesting.

    Regards,

    James

    Reply to this comment

  • des 29th October 2011

    From a purely ROI point-of-view SEO has to be the way to go. If a keyword rank is SEO competitive, it is highly lightly that it is also PPC competitive (expensive clicks). So therefore in the long term money spend on SEO will deliver a better return assuming that the SEO cost tapers off once the ranking position is achieved

    Reply to this comment

    • James Perrin

      James 31st October 2011

      Thanks for commenting Des,

      Absolutely, I think over the long term SEO is far greater at achieving an ROI for clients, however it really depends what their overall goal and budget it. The more a client invests in SEO the better however not everyone can afford to compete initially, so PPC does offer that way to get immediate exposure. It’s horses for courses, but a blend between the two is definitely the best for maximum exposure.

      Reply to this comment

  • Steve Murry 24th July 2013

    Hi! Guess you are right. Using PPC is very nice strategy if you want to drive traffic to a certain product page and SEO will be the one that will make your visitors stay longer in your website and visit again. You can combine these two strategies and expect a great result.

    Reply to this comment

    • James Perrin

      James Perrin 23rd August 2013

      Thanks Steve. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Either service is great, but a combination of the two can have a really strong impact.

      Reply to this comment

  • Asher Elran 22nd August 2013

    Combining the two is definitely the winning strategy. Heavy PPC campaign is good for a new site, and once the organic traffic starts visiting the site, PPC can be used to target supplementary keywords.

    Reply to this comment

    • James Perrin

      James Perrin 23rd August 2013

      Hi Asher, thanks for commenting. Definitely. More so, PPC and SEO can give your site double the exposure; with a PPC ad and a top listing in the SERPs your brand will be appearing twice in the SERPs, which gives extra credence to any searcher.

      Reply to this comment

  • Nicole 22nd August 2013

    I definitely agree that combining SEO and PPC together can really boost a campaign, but this also depends heavily on what the business is looking for as well as their budget limitations. These are some great tips, I especially agree that the hardest part of PPC is making it work for you.

    Reply to this comment

    • James Perrin

      James Perrin 23rd August 2013

      Thanks Nicole. Budget constraints are a big issue for any business, and this is where some companies may opt for an either/or approach to these services. This is fine, anything is better than nothing. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply to this comment

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