What’s the difference between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay-per-click)?
SEO and PPC are both methods of attracting and generating traffic to your site, and even though they rely on different tactics for doing so and often yield different results, they should both be used as part of a comprehensive online marketing strategy.
What is the essential difference between the two?
In short, SEO is an organic way of attracting traffic to your site by optimizing all of your content according to the best keywords for your goal, and PPC is when your ad appears in text-based form to users after they type in a query into the search field, and then upon the user clicking on that ad, the advertiser is charged a fee each time (i.e., pay-per-click).
So while SEO is free, in order for your ad to appear when using the PPC method you must find and bid on the keywords and phrases that you believe your customers would be most likely to type into a search field on Google.
Where do SEO and PCC appear on a search results page?
A pay-per-click advertisement with Google Adwords for example, will appear at the top of the results page with the Ad icon next to it, and where your ad lands on the page depends upon factors including the keywords you are targeting for, the keywords on your landing page, as well as the keywords in your ad copy.
SEO, or organic search results, are usually positioned in the middle of the results page, between the PPC ads at the top and bottom of the page. How you rank in SEO searches also depends on several factors, including how well your site pages are optimized for relevant keywords, title and relevance of your content in relation to the search query, and the quality of your outgoing and incoming links.
How do PPC and SEO compare when it comes to generating traffic?
- SEO: typically brings in a more continuous flow of traffic when you are able to rank for the keywords you want, as appearing in the top 5 of a results page over a long period of time is likely to create more traffic than if you were to pay for a keyword.
- PPC: better at generating traffic for a specific product or purpose which is usually a smaller audience than people performing generic searches, so while PPC will improve your traffic rates it will cost more overtime to see those efforts pay off.
SEO is technically free, but there is an investment to be made
While SEO doesn’t cost a fee to practice, successful implementation of search engine optimization techniques requires dedication, patience, and often the hiring of an online marketer or SEO expert who knows exactly how to optimize your site to get you the best chance of ranking on the first page.
SEO v PPC in terms of cost: one is indirect, the other is direct
Conversion rates: how do PPC and SEO compare?
Who is more likely to be converted into a sale or signing up for an email list, the person who clicks on the PPC or someone who found your page through an organic search?
- PPC: a highly targeted ad is more likely to bring in someone to your site who is closer to the conversion process than someone performing a generic keyword search who clicks on the third or fourth option down the page.
- SEO: While SEO traffic is in general superior to PPC traffic, someone brought to your site from an SEO search is statistically less likely to be converted; however, this by no means suggests that SEO doesn’t generate conversions.
There are positives to both methods of online advertising and PPC and SEO are definitely not mutually exclusive. As a general rule, it’s best to start with PPC and always work on SEO, as the results of a targeted PPC campaign tend to be faster, and SEO efforts are long-term results.
Written by Cassandra Sohn