SEO Versus PPC: Are Organic Results Better?

In a match of SEO versus PPC, which one would win? When dealing with search engine results, are all results created equal? Does it make a difference whether the results are organic or paid? Many studies say yes. So, should a company pay for the results they want, or should they go purely organic SEO? Or both?

The benefits of each should be weighed out to determine the best solution for each company. If you had a new software product and wanted to scale up your users fast and you had the money, go with PPC as it would be 4-6 months before any significant organic SEO would start to take hold. Even then, you would probably want to utilize both so you were not dependent on advertising spend to sustain new business growth.

Sometimes organic SEO is not appropriate for certain types of businesses, just as Pay Per Click Advertising is not always appropriate for every business. Sometimes one is more favorable over the other because of the market climate, competition levels, budgets and a variety of other reasons. It all depends greatly on the business and their goals.

Setting the pros and cons of each against the goals of the organization can facilitate that answer. But what are the pros and cons?

Organic SEO

Pros

  • Long term results
  • Cost effective
  • Not just a one time boost
  • Easy to plan and budget for
  • 85% of clicks are from organic links

Cons

  • Slow results
  • Requires large time commitment
  • No guarantee on results

PPC

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Quick results
  • Less management needed
  • Effective for short term results
  • 50% of people arriving from paid ads are more likely to buy than those got there from organic links.

Cons

  • Results don’t last
  • Higher cost
  • Users commonly ignore paid results

The question each company has to ask themselves is what kind of traffic they are looking for from the search engines. A company just launching a new website may choose to run a PPC campaign to build up traffic.

An organization that has goals leaning more towards building a long-term relationship with visitors to their site would lean more towards the organic SEO methods. Determining the goal of the website can also be helpful. Does your company want to sell something? Or are they interested in informing their visitors? Do they want return viewers to their blog or customers looking for the latest sales?

Conclusion

Triangulating your opportunities and understanding parameters of your digital marketing requires a specialist to truly wield consistent results across all the various channels your customers use. If you don’t have the time, but you do have a budget, it is recommended that you find a reputable service provider who fits your budget, culture and timeline.

If you don’t have a budget, but you have lots of time I recommend checking out Google’s Analytics resources and AdWords training. If you are looking for resources on how to do SEO, you would be well served checking out Moz (formerly SEOMoz), SEOBook and of course Google. If it is Pay Per Click Advertising resources you are looking for, I highly recommend PPC Hero, the loads of stuff on Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal as well as Search Engine Land.

I hope I have been able to point you in the right direction, good luck!

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

5 Comments

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    • Anirban Pathak
    • January 8, 2014
    Reply

    Great Post. SEO vs. PPC, two of the most powerful traffic generating approaches. Though their end goal is the same, they are different concepts that require different techniques and methodologies.

    • Anirban Pathak
    • December 31, 2013
    Reply

    Great post. Organic SEO is a long term play, it could take 8-12 months (maybe longer depending on how competitive the keywords are) before any significant rankings (and the leads that result from those rankings) take effect.

  1. Reply

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the clear and not overly technical info, I am trying to learn about online marketing from scratch pretty much!
    I have a 2nd interview with a company called thewebshowroom this week, it’s a sales role and I need to ask them some good questions.
    Do you have any recommendations for insightful questions I might ask re the differences between SEO & PPC, particularly in relation to selling these services to SME’s?
    Any help would be HUGELY appreciated!
    Thanks a lot,
    Juliette

  2. Reply

    Many people view PPC as an instant way to get people clicking to your website and while it is quick, for it to be effective, it must be worked with for months. It’s possible to do well right out of the box with some industries but to lower your costs from PPC optimizing your account overtime is a must. And it WILL take time to get the data you need to optimize properly. Most people give up by that point though and think PPC fails. In my opinion, SEO and PPC should essentially go hand in hand and it’s becoming more apparent now through branding on certain keywords that your PPC CTR and get a huge boost through orangic SEO! Thanks for sharing! Great read.

      • Steve Floyd
      • October 5, 2013
      Reply

      Organic SEO is a long term play, it could take 8-12 months (maybe longer depending on how competitive the keywords are) before any significant rankings (and the leads that result from those rankings) take effect. PPC is a great way to generate those leads right out of the gate. Ideally, PPC and SEO would be used in combination along with Email and Social Media to provide a holistic inbound marketing strategy.

      Things change overnight in the world of internet marketing and it’s generally a good idea to diversify the channels you are using to get leads. You never want to put all your eggs in one basket.

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