One of the biggest questions companies ask when developing a digital marketing strategy is, “Should I be using SEO or PPC strategies?” It’s a very relevant question – SEO and PPC are two great ways to drive traffic to your website – but choosing one or the other is probably not the approach you want to take. Each method has its benefits and its drawbacks but, in the end, the most comprehensive strategy is a combination of the two.

Let’s start with a definition of each:

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a way of optimizing your website so that you rank higher in the organic search results. This includes optimizing content for certain keywords, writing unique meta titles and descriptions, and ultimately making your entire website more appealing to search engins, while still maintaining the appeal for your viewers.

PPC or Pay Per Click refers to the practice of paying search engines like Google to advertise your site for certain keyword searches. This means that your website will pop up in the very top part of search results, before organic results, and over on the sidebar. These results are usually accompanied by some sort of indication that they are ads.

Adwords Ad Locations
Image from Google Support resources.

So now, the pros and cons:

While there are benefits to both, it’s generally accepted that people are more likely to click on SEO generated organic results than PPC results. According to Moz, users click on organic results 8.5 more times than pay per click results. In fact, many web users subconsciously disregard PPC results as they are considered less trustworthy. Given this information, it may seem like SEO is the obvious choice, and PPC is irrelevant.

Not entirely so:

PPC does have its benefits, although you need to pay for it. The overall costs depends on your industry and how competitive the keywords that you want to target are. PPC is great for getting your website in front of people who are actively searching for your products or services immediately. Once you set up your PPC campaigns, Google will have you up within a day, which means you could be generating leads and getting your name out there almost immediately.

It’s also a great tool for testing your site. If you’re tweaking things and trying to see what works best, PPC is a good way to go. Since it works immediately, you will be able to tell quite easily what works, what doesn’t and make adjustments accordingly.

This is where PPC wins out over SEO. While you don’t pay for SEO, outside of an employee or contractor, it does take a lot of time to see results. SEO requires that you build enough content and credibility to put you on the same plane as your competitors, who may have been building their SEO strategy for years.

In short, PPC is a great, short-term solution for getting your website out there and generating leads now, but SEO is the long-term strategy you should put the most effort into. Over time, SEO will benefit your overall website by helping you rank well for related topics and give your users a great experience.

If you simply don’t have the budget for PPC, don’t worry, your website will eventually generate great results – it just takes a bit of time. According to Forbes, the SEO strategy can take anywhere from 4-6 months to start seeing results. Once you start getting these results, though, they’re likely to keep increasing throughout the year.

So there you have it, a simple breakdown of SEO vs PPC. Think you’re ready for the next step toward generating more leads? Download our 2016 SEO Checklist to help get you started!

2016 SEO checklist