Spend enough time in digital marketing and you’ll notice there’s a big gap between SEO and PPC among online marketers.

Each side has its own die-hard followers who insist their domain is the future of digital marketing and the only solution worth your money.

But those who get caught up in the hullabaloo of SEO vs PPC wars often miss the big picture.

When it comes to waging war between SEO and PPC, advocates often forget a few key truths.


1. SEO and PPC are not interchangeable

Simply put, SEO cannot replace PPC – and vice versa.

Each domain serves a particular purpose, contributing to the larger goal of improving your brand and increasing conversions.

SEO is geared for improving your organic search results and establishing your business’s online presence. We do this by optimising your website and making it the best, most relevant, and most user-friendly result for customers who are searching Google for your company or product/service.

But SEO often takes time to get results. Without PPC, you may not get a chance to attract your customers if your website is new or low-ranking.

PPC, on the other hand, is designed for driving heavily targeted traffic and visitors to your website. But without proper SEO work on your website, those leads may not convert to actual sales. (Hardly anyone trusts a poorly designed website or a company whose website they can’t find in search results.)

So don’t think of SEO and PPC as substitutes for the other. They’re two completely different parts in the wheel of digital marketing.


2. They work well together

Not only are SEO and PPC completely different from each other – but, in many cases, they complement each other and improve your digital marketing campaign.  Here’s how – 

  • Better search visibility. What’s better than showing up as one of the ads at the top of search results? Showing up there AND showing up at the top of the organic search results right after it. By investing in your SEO and PPC, you get the opportunity to increase your search visibility in both paid and organic searches, which can significantly increase your site traffic and conversions.
  • Remarketing. If your website is already ranking well, you can use PPC to remarket your business to previous website visitors. This is particularly useful for keeping customers in your conversion funnel or reaching out to customers who are still considering their options.
  • Playing off each other’s strengths. While PPC is great at driving targeted traffic towards a website or landing page, that’s often where the buck stops. By utilising SEO, you can update the content, design, calls to action, and more to help improve the relevancy of those pages to the corresponding Google Ads campaigns. Done right, this can improve their Quality Score, reduce the amount you pay per click, and improve the conversion rate of those ads – making you more money for less spend.
  • More data to analyse. Running SEO and PPC together will give you more data to refine your online marketing campaign. You’ll get more keyword data to analyse your campaigns, giving you a better idea of which keywords convert and which don’t. You’ll also get more data for clickthrough rates, bounce rates, conversion rates, and time spent on your website. With more data available, you can make better decisions to shape marketing strategies.

3. It’s not the same for everyone

There’s one good reason why pure SEO or pure PPC is not necessarily the best for every business: Every business is different.

Saying that SEO or PPC alone is all that every business needs is not just incorrect, it can be misleading.

Businesses in different industries and product categories require different approaches to online marketing. Companies that sell specialist products or home services, for example, may benefit from the lead generation muscle of PPC.

Businesses in competitive service industries and niche markets, on the other hand, may get more conversions from the established online presence that SEO builds. Now more than ever, you need to know who your audience is and how they search.

What works for one business may not work for another, so you need to choose what’s right for yours.


Both is Often Better


Interestingly, what we’ve seen has worked best for many clients is not a case of either-or, but rather and.

The benefits of running SEO and PPC simultaneously are many (see Number 2), and we’ve seen clients get great results and better conversions from having both in play.

The question then is, how do you split your budget between both?

That’s a question that you’ll need to answer with your digital marketing team.

If you have a limited online marketing budget (a.k.a. most businesses), it helps to consider the following factors – 

  • Goals. What are your short-term and long-term goals for your online marketing? Do you want new leads for a business you’ve just launched? Are you promoting a special sale of particular products and services? Do you want to establish your business as a trusted player in your industry? Defining your short-term and long-term goals clearly will help you determine the right split between SEO and PPC.
  • Competition. How competitive is your industry? And what are your competitors doing in their online marketing? By analysing what your close competitors are doing, you’ll get a better idea of what will likely work best for your business and how to make it stand apart.
  • Online presence. How strong is your brand’s online presence? Do you already have decent rankings in organic search results and are looking to increase conversions? Or are you starting from scratch and working your way up in the field? By considering the strength of your online presence and its trajectory, you can determine where to invest more of your budget to get better results.

Need help with your digital marketing strategy? Have a chat with our team to find out what’s best for your online marketing campaign.