SEO vs. PPC: The true cost of SEO (Hint: It’s not free!)
April 5, 2016
April 5, 2016
SEO can be a fantastic way to attract traffic to your website.
It’s a marketing tactic that multiplies your efforts over time and attracts more readers as your website pages work their way up in search engine results.
But here’s a secret: While tons of websites will praise SEO as a source of “free traffic,” that’s just not the case. SEO isn’t free, and when you’re considering SEO vs. PPC, you have to take a closer look at your goals to determine which tactic is right for your business. Let’s break it down.
Many business owners and marketers invest in SEO because it’s “organic,” meaning you attract traffic on search engines without paying for the exposure. What they don’t realize is that “organic traffic” doesn’t mean “free traffic,” and the cost of SEO lies in the time you’re going to spend getting it up and running.
When most people think of SEO, they think of two steps:
That might generate some traffic, but in order to get SEO value out of those articles and make your system sustainable over the long term, you’ll need to take steps beyond that, such as:
SEO can be a game-changing tactic in your marketing strategy if you have the time and resources to do it well. Once your website starts garnering attention, it often gains momentum over time as you create new content, share that content on social media, and attract traffic from other links and publicity.
While the upside to SEO can be huge, it’s important to be aware of the downside and risks, too.
“The hidden cost of SEO. No, it’s not free.”
Many business owners put extensive time and energy into an article, only to find it doesn’t measure up to articles that are competing for the same keyword. This competition may prevent it from ranking highly in search engine results, which means it probably won’t get the attention it deserves because only 5.59% of organic clicks happen on pages two and three.
SEO results are also hard to track and quantify, especially when it comes to ROI. Business owners and marketers must determine how many leads came in, and how many of those leads were a direct result of SEO. Some of that tracking can be done with Google Analytics, but making a direct connection is not always possible.
The upfront cost of SEO is low, so is it worth it to invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising? The answer may be “yes” if your business:
Here are the key advantages of PPC advertising:
With SEO, you can choose your article title and description, and pull in a bit of dynamic content with some well-placed tags in the code. But these enhancements still come nowhere near the customization of PPC ads.
PPC advertising will move your ad to the top of search results faster, and you’ll be able to show extra information, such as links to specific pages, reviews of your services, and even a phone number. (Plus, call tracking lets you see how many calls were made from the AdWords listing.)
These extensions make your ad take up more page space, give the reader more reasons to click on the ad, and can ultimately increase the link’s click-through rate (CTR).
How many leads are you getting for your money? SEO is built to help searchers find helpful webpages, while PPC is built to help your business attract qualified customers.
With the right setup and advanced tracking, PPC data can provide more insight into how customers interact with your ads and whether or not the ads are actually working.
SEO can have a huge impact, but it often takes months or even years to see real results.
On the other side of the ring, PPC delivers fast results and allows you to modify everything on the fly. In Google AdWords, for example, you can view exactly which search terms are attracting the most clicks on your ads. Immediately, you can create more ads to capitalize on those search terms, test new messaging, and pause ads that aren’t performing as well.
Ever visit a website and see the company’s ads on another website a few days later? That’s called retargeting. It’s a form of PPC advertising that makes it easy to get your product back in front of people who have already expressed interest.
Retargeting contributes to higher brand recall, and visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website.
When it comes to SEO vs. PPC, the economics are not as clear-cut as they may seem. To know which one makes more sense for your business, you have to evaluate your business goals.
SEO can generate massive traffic over time, but it requires a significant time investment and takes a long time to see results, which are often hard to quantify.
PPC advertising requires a budget upfront, but it’s nimble, brings in quality leads right away, and offers detailed data to help with decision-making.
Two kinds of investments, two kinds of results.
Want to learn more? ParaCore can put together a free PPC plan and competitor analysis so you can see how PPC could help achieve your goals. Get your free report here.
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