I get asked this question at least once a day: “what is better, SEO or Pay per Click (a.k.a. AdWords)?” The answer is “it depends”. I’ve put together a list of factors you need to consider before deciding which one is right for you.
One of the main benefits of PPC is that you can target any geographical areas you want, such as Colorado, or Denver metro area or 5 miles within your retail store. SEO doesn’t allow you to do this.
Cost and Timeframe
In the first few months of an SEO campaign, your traffic won’t increase much. It takes somewhere between 4 and 12 months for a website to make it to the top of Google with great SEO. What I love about SEO is that, unlike PPC, you don’t pay for every click you get.
The ROI of PPC is normally better than the ROI of SEO for the first few months, but once you get to the first page of Google organically, you’re going to get a lot of free, qualified traffic, making the ROI of SEO much higher than that of PPC.
Landing Page Control
A benefit of PPC is that you can send people to any landing page you want. With SEO you have some control over what pages you optimize for each keyword, but at the end of the day, Google can feature other pages on your site instead. With PPC you tell Google where you want your visitors to land and you’re guaranteed that they’ll see the landing page you want them to see.
Traffic Potential
Because organic listings gets approximately 85% of the clicks and paid listings get only 15%, you can get a lot more traffic from SEO, but it also takes longer to get that traffic.
Tests, Events and Special Offers
The main benefit of PPC is that you can run limited-time campaigns. If you have an event you want to promote, PPC is the way to do it. Same if you have a Christmas special, for example. Or if you want to test a new product or marketing message.
Industry-Specific Criteria
There are some industries where PPC clicks are over $50 and the competition for organic rankings is not that high. And there are industries where organic rankings are really competitive and PPC prices are really low. To check how difficult ranking for a keyword organically might be, use SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty tool. To find out how much you can expect to pay for clicks in your industry, use Google’s Traffic Estimator.
If you’re still unsure about whether SEO or PPC is best for you, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help. Happy Thursday!