SEO and PPC: Key Differences and When to Use Each

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While for marketing experts the acronyms SEO and PPC are very different, for business leaders who don’t spend all their time in the craziness that is modern marketing, it can be confusing to understand the two and how they play together.

What is SEO? What is PPC?

SEO and PPC are vastly different efforts, and in most cases, a marketing expert is typically skilled at one or the other. Today, SEO specialists and PPC specialists exist because the digital world has gotten so uniquely nuanced that it’s no longer possible for someone to be a truly focused expert on both.

But before we dive in to why you need SEO and PPC (yep, you need both), let’s quickly define what they are and what they do.

Definition of SEO:

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting free (organic) or natural search results in a search engine. The goal of SEO is to ensure more people see your website and brand more often than competitors, and that your brand ranks top-of-page whenever possible for as many relevant keywords as it can.

Definition of PPC:

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. It is the way in which a business or agency purchases media space from a publisher, and as the name states you only pay when someone clicks on the ad. Many networks, social media channels and publishers use this model, but it is mostly associated with search engines. 

You are probably familiar with the ads you see appear at the top of any Google search results page. PPC search ads are usually text-based, but some now offer visuals as well. PPC search ads are focused on driving traffic to a website based on a set of audience targeting parameters.

What does SEO do?

SEO drives organic traffic via search engine results.

What does PPC do?

PPC drives paid website traffic via targeted advertisements within search engine results pages.

When Do You Need SEO?

The short answer? Always. SEO is paramount for any brand, in any industry, at any day or time. SEO makes your website more visible. Specifically a site optimized for SEO helps to open more opportunities for leads and conversions by driving more traffic to your site. With a high-SEO score, you’re shown by Google, Bing and others to more people, more often. The better your SEO, the higher you rank on search result pages.

Some of the key benefits to SEO include:

  1. Increased organic search traffic
  2. More cost-effective leads
  3. Increased brand awareness
  4. Build trust with consumers/audience
  5. Optimize website for mobile experiences and desktop
  6. Outperform your competition

When Do You Need PPC?

PPC is a helpful advertising tool, especially for a brand who has a new SEO strategy in place or who has just launched a website. PPC is proven to be fast and deliver results and insights quickly. SEO on the other hand, takes time. In fact, SEO can take anywhere from 4-12 months to show results.

Where competition is steep for crucial keywords a PPC approach is necessary. Is your business constantly launching new products or updating skews? This is another instance where PPC will help you reach customers faster.

Some of the key benefits to PPC include:

  1. Boost traffic to your website
  2. Increase sales, leads, and conversions while SEO is building
  3. Analyze ad performance and messaging in real-time to adapt out later on for other channels
  4. Increase brand awareness and recognition
  5. Options to include a phone number, form, sitelinks and other extensions directly in the search results

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