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SEO vs PPC – Are you still confused when it comes to these topical acronyms?

6 minute read

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) are both forms of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tactics which you can use alongside your website to drive traffic and extend the reach of your business.

In this piece, we’ll explore what each of these tactics can achieve for your organisation and how you can use them in conjunction to deliver long-term success.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is a form of earned media and is free to implement but challenging to master. The purpose of SEO is to optimise your website for search engines to improve your organic reach, give you greater exposure and encourage more visitors to your pages.

Search engines such as Google and Bing use automated software to ‘crawl’ websites and index them; essentially keeping a record of what the website contains so that they can return the right pages for relevant searches. Pages from your site will begin to rank when the search engine deems them appropriate as likely results to what a user has searched. Search engines use complex and often secretive algorithms to determine how a website ranks. They also review and change these algorithms, making it a challenge to stay on top of the latest criteria, especially when no one is 100% sure of what this is.

However, we know that a search engine’s primary goal is to deliver relevant results for users, using sites that tick several boxes. Below are a few things to focus on when optimising your website’s pages for search engines:

  • Ensure each page has an appropriate title.
  • Add relevant metadata.
  • Add appropriate ALT text for images.
  • Choose the right keywords (beware of keyword stuffing).
  • Make sure the content is readable and relevant (created for the reader).
  • Use good internal and external links.
  • Establish strong backlinks (other sites that link to yours).
  • Make sure the site is well-coded.
  • Ensure fast page loading.
  • Follow a simple URL structure.
  • Share content on social media channels.
  • Consistently post good content.

Many free and paid tools can help you determine how optimised your site is for search engines and what you can do to improve your SEO score. We also recommend keeping an eye on your domain authority – this will improve over time based on your SEO performance. Some of the tools we would recommend include:

Advantages of SEO

There are several advantages to using SEO, including:

  • It’s sustainable long-term.
  • It’s free.
  • It helps you build credibility with your audience.
  • It encourages good use of content and user experience.
  • It can deliver a greater return on investment (ROI) long-term.

Disadvantages of SEO

However, the disadvantages of using SEO include:

  • It’s not a quick win – SEO can take many months to have any real effect.
  • It’s time-consuming – SEO requires keyword research, content production and continual maintenance.
  • It’s hard to know if you’re doing it right if you’re not an expert or don’t have the skills in house.
  • It requires specialist knowledge to really work.

If you’re seriously considering investing in SEO, then we suggest kick-starting this journey with an extensive keyword research piece so that you can create content to target these terms. We’d also recommend working with an SEO specialist agency such as Sleeping Giant Media if you’re looking for tangible results, as their experts will be able to support you with your long-term search-related goals.

What is PPC?

Pay-Per-Click advertising, or PPC, is a form of paid media you can use to give your site a boost by bidding on keywords. These ads tend to appear at the top of search results, but this depends on how competitive a particular term or phrase is. PPC is an excellent way of giving your business added exposure if you’re competing in a saturated market.

When creating PPC ads, you’ll need to produce ad copy and targeted landing pages if you want to benefit from additional exposure at reduced rates. Google favours sites with a high-quality score. These pages have a good user experience and are delivering on the question asked by the user – a bit like SEO.

Again, it’s all about targeting the right key phrases, terms and words with the right page, ad copy and user experience, which is why we suggest involving experts if you can.

Advantages of PPC

There are several advantages to PPC, including:

  • It can provide quick wins for businesses looking for instant exposure.
  • It’s highly targeted – ensuring your ads get seen by the right audience.
  • When done right, it can deliver significant ROI.
  • It provides excellent insights into cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition to help you determine ROI.

Disadvantages of PPC

However, there are also disadvantages and these include:

  • PPC can be costly.
  • You need to know what you’re doing – bidding on the wrong terms can waste budget.
  • Banner blindness is a problem with modern-day consumers.

Creating successful keyword strategies

When producing a keyword strategy, you’ll need to consider several factors:

  • Search terms your competitors are going after.
  • Phrases used by your audience in search.
  • The intent behind keywords.
  • Which phrases and terms you already rank for.
  • Which keywords are important to your business and strategy.
  • Your goals – are you looking for increased awareness or conversions?

We recommend focusing on long-tail keywords to target consumers with high intent. These are users that are already partway through the sales funnel and know what they’re looking for. These phrases won’t necessarily have a high search volume, but they will, potentially, deliver more conversions. An example of a long-tail keyword would be ‘Red Ford KA for sale in Maidstone’ instead of ‘Red Car’ or ‘Cars for Sale.’ Location-based keywords can also be useful if you’re targeting a specific area.

Implementing a joined-up approach to SEM

To summarise the idea of SEO vs PPC, there are many reasons why you might choose to use one over the other. For instance, if you’re just starting out, with a low budget and little content on your site, an SEO strategy might be better placed to get your feet off the ground and prevent you from wasting budget. But, if you’re already delivering high-quality content but looking to compete in a competitive market, then a strategic PPC approach might be the best next step.

However, while you could use both of these tactics in isolation, we highly recommend a joined-up approach if you want to see sustainable, long-term success. Your keyword data from PPC can help improve your SEO strategy and identify gaps in your content, while a strong SEO strategy also benefits PPC performance. You can also A/B test ad copy in PPC and then use the results to improve your website’s landing pages and SEO performance. Ultimately, using both will create a strong organic and paid visibility, leading to increased confidence and awareness for your business.

We hope you found this blog useful, and we’d love to hear your success stories when it comes to SEO and PPC. To stay up to date with the latest insights from our team, please register for our newsletter.

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