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Startups and Online Marketing

Should I do SEO or PPC to Promote My Business?

seo vs ppc


The Big Decision

When it comes to promoting your business online, there are many routes you can take but usually, it boils down to whether you want to focus on SEO or PPC to start.

The truth of the matter is both SEO and PPC can be incredibly effective ways of promoting your business. Which one you choose typically comes down to the time horizon you’re looking at. In general PPC is an effective way to generate a positive ROI in the short term, while SEO takes longer to see a return, but has the potential for massive gains in the long run.

What are PPC and SEO?

The table below will give a more thorough breakdown of the differences and benefits of SEO vs PPC. If you’re new to this space however I’ll give a quick rundown of what each entails. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. This is the act of doing things in order to ‘optimize’ your clicks from search engines. PPC stands for ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising. While sometimes it’s actually pay per impression, this acronym is typically is used to describe Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and other major paid online advertising methods.

The screenshot below shows an example Google search results page. The portion highlighted in red is the paid ad portion and the focus of a PPC campaign. The portion highlighted in green is the organic non-paid search results and the focus of an SEO campaign…

seo vs ppc results in serps

Let’s Compare SEO and PPC

Simple comparisons can be difficult to make as an agency salesperson is spewing jargon. Below is a simple side-by-side chart which attempts to explain the difference between SEO and PPC, as well as show the pros and cons of each.


Ads / PPC / Google ads

Overviewto increase your sites position and exposure on search engines like Google and Bing in the unpaid resultsto bid on relevant search keywords i.e. ‘your service city’ in order to appear in ad results for relevant audiences
Usually Starting At$500/month +hst$500 ad budget + $200 management fee
Process in a nutshellIncrease the amount of content on your website to make it look more relevant to Google. Spread content around the web and have links from it pointing to your site to make your site look more research on relevant keywords and write ads to target those searching for them. Review stats and the searches triggering your ads to make adjustments and optimize results based on what is driving form submissions.
Tracking ResultsThere are two sides to tracking, first you can track what position you’re ranking in for top keywords. You can also see how many views your site is getting on google/bing and how many clicks are resulting from it.

Second, using a tool called ‘Google analytics’, we can see how many people coming from search are submitting a form to contact you. The issue here is that it’s hard to differentiate those who were referred and search for you, from those who haven’t known of you previously and submitted as a result of the SEO efforts.

It’s very easy to track form submissions down to the target keyword, geographic area, ad, etc. All of this information would be reported back to you so that you know you drove X number of leads/submissions last month and it cost $X per lead on average.

You can also value different search queries differently based on your closing success and profitability. i.e. if they search for “blue widgets” it may be worth more than a lead for “red widgets” so we can allow for a higher cost per lead on the latter to optimize ad ROI.

How long to see resultsWith SEO, nothing is guaranteed since Google does like content being created and shared, but not intentional manipulation of search results so there are no set guidelines of what works best and what works and to what degree, changes each time they update their algorithms, which is thousands of times a year.

That being said, typicall you begin to see some movement after 1 month as it takes google some time to see the work you’re doing, with more concrete evidence of movement coming between 1-3 months.

Probably the nicest part of ads is that they are instantaneous. The moment your campaigns are setup, you will begin to appear for target search terms based on what we’re bidding on them. Your first form submission could theoretically come with the first click.

As data comes in from how your campaign is performing, adjustments are made to improve your results (which are usually defined as leads and cost per lead)

Other considerationsWhile SEO is typically done on a monthly basis since it’s a process to grow your authority and rank higher on Google, once you’re ranking well you could theoretically stop the monthly service at any time and still reap the benefits of past work by getting free clicks. There’s no guarantee those ranks will remain the same, however.

With SEO, your site grows in authority which makes it easier to rank pages for new services in the future, but typically work would be required on that specific page to get it ranking for the new terms.

When the ads stop, you essentially lose the benefit of having run them. They’re immediate and have a great calculable ROI, but to get their benefits you will always continue to pay per click.

It’s very easy to roll out ads targeting new services. For example, if you find a lot of success in one area of service/products, then you can focus the ads and spend on that and begin driving interest immediately.

I hope that has helped explain the difference between the two and makes your decision a little easier. If it has helped, or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.

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