According to Jupiter Research, around 81% of all people find websites through search engine referral. This statistic applies to even well-known, branded companies like Pepsi or Nike. Rather than locate the URL and type the address into the browser, a person will Google the name and find the company in the search results. So what happens if your website does not appear in the results? More than likely, your prospect will go elsewhere. That means it’s important for you to rank a the top of the search results. So, where should you invest your resources? Should you employ an SEO or PPC strategy?
Which is Better – an SEO or PPC Strategy?
Search engine optimization (SEO) uses keywords to show Google the relevancy of your site and its content. By linking keywords and related phrases, you increase your relevancy even more. People who find your site as a result of SEO are referred to as organic traffic.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is also based on keywords, but with PPC you bid on your desired search strings. Depending on the amount of money you are willing to spend, you can appear first in the search results for any keyword phrase you like. Each time a person clicks on your URL from the results page, you are charged the amount of your bid. These visitors are referred to as paid traffic.
Does an SEO or PPC Strategy Result in the Most Click Throughs?
Right now, let’s disregard the cost and take a look at which method is more effective in drawing visitors to your site. Studies show that until recently, SEO results were 8.5 times more likely to get clicked than paid search results. The idea was that these results were perceived to be more trustworthy than an “advertisement.” However, Google made some changes recently that are making paid ads more relevant. Sometimes they are even more relevant than the SEO results. Also, Google changed the layout of their search result page. Ads now appear in the top four spots of the search results, above the organic results. They are labeled with the word “Ad, ” but a visitor has to move down the page to find the organic results.
To further complicate things, Google gives precedence to local organic search results. So, if your company does not have a physical address, or it’s not been optimized for local traffic, it could get pushed to page 2 or 3 even if you are the leading company in the industry.
Consequently, the rules for SEO have changed. What drove clicks and traffic six months ago, no longer work. So, to answer the question regarding whether it’s SEO or PPC strategy that generate the most clicks, you need to first answer another question. Where does your site fall in the Google rank? If you are not on the first page of search results, then chances are you won’t see many click throughs. To move up, you need to use PPC or improve your website’s SEO.
Is There a Difference in Conversion Rate Between PPC and SEO?
Keep in mind that the two methods only affect your placement in the search results. Logically, you would think this would have no effect on the actions of your lead once they click and move to your website. However, that is not the case. Paid search results result in a conversion rate 1.5 times higher than organic traffic. Why?
The answer is targeting. Google AdWords generally target a very narrow demographic. Almost all ads lead to a landing page, written especially to convert that targeted audience. In other words, your cost per click may be higher than with SEO, but the quality of leads should be better.
Still, before you start thinking that SEO is not worth the effort, you need to do the math. SEO draws 8.5 times more traffic, so even though the conversion rate for PPC is higher, the raw numbers still favor SEO.
Where Should You Focus Your Efforts – SEO or PPC?
At this point, you are probably wondering if we are ever going to endorse one over the other. The truth is that your business should be using both SEO and PPC as a way to drive traffic.
Organic traffic still outperforms paid traffic in the long-term. A single investment in good content generates quite a bit of “rank juice.” The cost is lower in dollars but higher in other ways. Can you afford to wait six months for the traffic to pick up on your site? Are you willing to write the SEO material yourself, and learn all the tricks, or hire a content writer to do it for you? All business plans have short-term and long-term goals. SEO is your long-term strategy. In the end, it pays greater dividends than PPC.
However, PPC is by far the best short-term strategy. Within a single day, you can have your company at the very top of the search results for any search term. It might cost pennies, or it could cost hundreds of dollars. Also, to make the most of PPC, you really should hire a professional. A lot of research goes into a good advertising campaign, and the professionals know how to maximize the return on your investment. Of course, by the time you hire a professional and pay for the ads, PPC can get expensive.
One study estimates that 87% of a company’s promotional dollars are spent on PPC, versus the 11% invested in SEO. Since we already established that SEO drives more traffic, it makes more sense to invest in SEO. However, while you wait for it to increase your Google rank, you should drive traffic using PPC.
Most companies use a combined marketing strategy that includes SEO, PPC, social media, and direct contact. The integrated approach covers all channels and generates the greatest results. So, when you wonder if it should be an SEO or PPC strategy, the answer is that you should invest in both.