Paid Search vs SEO – Pros, Cons & Why you Need Both

Search engine optimisation and paid search – also known as PPC (pay-per-click) – have many things in common.

They both relate to your website’s visibility on search engines like Google and are cornerstones in most digital marketing strategies.

Additionally, both use keywords to promote your business’ website to the most relevant people.

That being said, these two digital marketing practices have plenty of differences too, as well as their own, unique strengths and weaknesses. The good news is, paid search and SEO are complementary services, supporting each other for better overall digital marketing.

In today’s blog post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of both marketing practices and explain why you should implement both for better online visibility for your brand.

SEO benefits

We went over some of the benefits of search engine optimisation in last week’s blog post on the importance of SEO, but to recap briefly, SEO is a relatively inexpensive way to boost your brand online, improve your website’s user experience and unearth new opportunities.

Additionally, we should note that while your PPC campaigns will bring new visitors to your website only for as long as you keep paying to display your ads, your SEO efforts will offer value in the long term.

You usually have to do your site’s technical SEO just once – this makes sure search engine bots can always crawl your site for relevant information.

Similarly, on-site SEO practices like creating a library of high-quality keyword-optimised content will keep bringing new visitors to your website long after its publication.

SEO drawbacks

The most obvious disadvantage of SEO is that it takes time to improve your Google rankings, while with paid search, you can appear at the very top of the results page as soon as your ads are approved – as long as you’ve used a good keyword strategy.

It takes time to make changes to your site and create a library of keyword-optimised content. Additionally, it takes time for Google to reindex your site to reflect these changes.

On a similar note, SEO can be a lot of work.

Setting up and optimising basic paid search campaigns takes less time than things like content creation building backlinks on other sites pointing back to yours and improving your site’s load time and navigation.

Realistically, it’ll take you three to six months to start seeing the results from your SEO efforts, and making changes to improve your website can even temporarily hurt your site’s domain authority until Google has reindexed your site.

Paid search benefits

As we already mentioned, paid search can take you to the top of the Google results page overnight. This is huge if you’re launching a new product or service and simply don’t have the time to wait for our SEO efforts to start paying off.

It also means you can run different kinds of experiments more easily and see the results quickly.

Quicker Results

These facts have made Google PPC campaigns very popular since, in contrast, it takes a long time to see results from SEO campaigns and because there’s lots of competition for scoring a spot in one of the first few organic search results.

With PPC, you can also control some additional details relating to how your site is displayed in search results: you can add additional links to different pages on your website and even a button to call you directly.

More Clicks

You can also increase your ad’s likelihood of being clicked on by controlling things like the geographical area it’ll be shown in and the days and times Google can display it.

Coupled with the fact that you also control the page people will land on once they click on your ad, with paid search, you can make sure your leads follow a carefully crafted buyer’s journey designed by you.

Easy To Learn Basics

Additionally, while some parts of SEO can be highly technical and require a web developer to help you, you can teach yourself the basics of paid search with relative ease.

Learning how to run PPC campaigns effectively, lowering your cost per click and being highly strategic and targeted with your keyword strategy does take time and work, but depending on how competitive your niche is, you can set up basic campaigns pretty easily.

Paid search drawbacks

Because you can set up campaigns so quickly and start showing up in search results, it’s little wonder that PPC is also a highly competitive space.

Because of this, bidding for keywords (which happens automatically based on a price cap you set) can get combative in some niches, leading to a high cost per click for your ads.

Additionally, people are naturally distrusting of paid advertisements: according to one survey, this is the case with 69% of people.

While paid search ads look almost the same as organic listings, they do always come prefaced with the word “ad” and internet users are increasingly savvy when it comes to recognising when they’re being sold something.

Some people will always be hesitant about clicking on paid search ads, especially if they’ve never heard of your business before.

That’s why getting help from PPC experts can be so valuable; they can find the best keywords for your goals, create convincing ad copy and set your bidding strategy for the highest possible ROI.

Why your digital marketing strategy needs both SEO and PPC

At the end of the day, the conversation shouldn’t really be about PPC vs SEO and which one is better, but how you can leverage both for better online visibility.

Paid search and SEO complement each other exceptionally well, making up for each others’ weaknesses and adding their own, unique advantages for a stronger overall digital marketing strategy.

Investing in some SEO helps you build your business’ reputation in a way that feels genuine so that when people come across your paid search ads in their Google results, they might already be aware of what you do and be more likely to click on the ad to visit your site.

Conversely, running some paid search campaigns means you can start getting more website visitors right away with relatively little work.

Working on your business’ SEO while running PPC campaigns means you’ll continue bringing new people to your site even if you pause your ad campaigns.