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Deciding between Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising depends on a number of variables. The decision is likely to be based on your specific goals, budget, and timeline.

If defining each, PPC is seen as the quickest way to gain visibility for your desired keyword terms at the top of search results, by means of paying for your ad to get in front of the right audience at the right time. 

SEO is a longer term strategy that requires effort, time and patience. With the correct knowledge and support, it’s possible for your website to rank organically through natural results in Google by optimising the content in-line with best optimisation practices. This involves onpage optimisation (including contextualising copy with keywords included) and off-page optimisation through digital pr and link building.

For the quickest results, PPC is always advocated, as it’s the quickest way to appear at the top of Google search results. It’s the best way to generate both traffic and conversions at a quicker rate. What are the drawbacks of PPC?

The two biggest drawbacks of PPC are:

  1. Restrictive budgets – your company is entering a bidding auction vs your closest market competition to appear at the top of Google. The cost per click (CPC) for advertising can prove costly. Determining and defining an effective cost per acquisition (CPA) for your company is important when assessing and evaluating the performance of PPC advertising.
  2. Turning off PPC – when your ads stop, so does your traffic and leads 

The two biggest drawbacks to SEO are:

  1. The time it takes to get results – unfortunately, SEO has had to battle many demons over the years when it comes to poor, unethical, and deceptive practices. Google has released many algorithmic updates to its search engine to counter such practices over the years, which ‘nowadays’ translates to organic wins and successes with improving SEO performance requiring a completely natural approach, time, energy and patience.
  2. The damage, black hat approaches have done to the SEO industry – most organisations will admit that the greatest amount of spam they’ll receive through their company inboxes will be related to false promises such as “we’ll build 100 links in one month and your company will rank 1st on Google in no time”. Unfortunately, such lies have done huge damage to the reputation of the industry; and have created many misperceptions from businesses as to how SEO works, and why genuine SEO experts can’t guarantee or promise the same deliverables.

Which approach suits your business best?

Rarely is anything successful achieved in business without giving due consideration to planning and strategy. There’s little point in running a PPC campaign blindly; as you’ll be throwing good money after bad. 

Your business needs to have its online presence properly assessed, as well as the approach to keyword targeting (through keyword research). In addition, the correct landing pages need to be in place across your website, as well as an effective way to convert visitors to your site in the quickest, most effective manner.

As an agency, we always recommend an integrated approach (SEO and PPC combined) where possible and if budget allows; to target visibility for golden nugget keyword terms through PPC advertising (to gain prime position for these in search results). This also allows for work to continue in the background on improving organic visibility for these and other keywords to future proof the visibility of your business and longer term online presence through SEO best practices. 

Having both SEO & PPC running in conjunction should complement your overall marketing strategy. As your business grows online and organic visibility improves, the cost for bidding for the keywords you are bidding on through PPC can drop, through your website having greater context to the keyword terms. At this stage, you may wish to dial down your PPC spend.

If the cost of advertising through PPC isn’t viable, you may wish to commit to an SEO strategy. This comes with the caveat (if your brand isn’t widely recognised already) that you will need to have patience to see the outcome of results, mostly in the instance that your business is a startup and/or scaling from the ground up. 

One of the common misconceptions about SEO is the promise of overnight wins or the promise of keywords rankings by a certain date. In reality, any trustworthy digital marketing agency (worth their weight in gold) will never promise keyword rankings, as search engines are controlled by Google algorithms, not any individuals. If Google can’t provide any indication, then neither can a digital agency, thus all you can trust with SEO, is that best practice is being followed and that relevant organic traffic improves over time as well as the website conversion rate.

If you are looking to improve your online visibility, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.


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