Last Updated on October 26, 2023
SEO and PPC management are very similar, but different at the same time. They both utilize search engine results pages (SERPs) on search engines such as Bing or Google, to help businesses drive traffic to their website through high-ranking positions. However, how they populate on the SERPs is entirely different. Having this understanding, marketers or business owners can better decide which strategy makes the most sense for them, or if a combination of the two will achieve their overall goals.
In this article, we will identify the differences between SEO and PPC management, an overview of the current SERP features, and discuss the pros and cons to better equip you to understand how to integrate them for maximum impact for your online business.
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What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a term used to describe an organic, long-term strategy that focuses on improving how visible a website is on search engine results pages (SERPs).
A successful SEO strategy requires a lot of research and time but once you lay the foundation, it proves to be very effective and beneficial in the long run.
What is PPC Management?
Pay-per-click or PPC refers to a faster strategy of online marketing where advertisers pay only whenever a user clicks on one of their ads.
The most popular platform of PPC advertising is utilized through Google Ads, which serves users ads across Google’s Search Network, and Google’s Display Network (GDN).
You can also use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, or use display advertising to also use the PPC model.
Typically, businesses will look either internally for PPC management or will hire a PPC expert to manage and execute the campaigns to maximize the PPC ROI to its fullest potential. It is not something you should turn on and not stay on top of.
Now that you have a general understanding of SEO and PPC management, you can have a better idea of what strategy best fits your business.
However, it is also important to understand how search engine results pages (SERPs) work for the keywords (terms users type to get the results they’re looking for) you care about being seen for.
In a time that seems to be ancient history, search results were once a number of links that could be mistaken for the end credits to a movie. Nowadays search engines provide an array of features that are all designed to provide in-depth information along with ways to dig deeper into the topic. Depending on various factors, such as search intent or keywords, results are provided in a variety of ways.
Example of SERPs features:
- Knowledge Panel
- Featured Snippet
- Top Stories
- People Also Ask
- Organic Listings
Each one of these features possesses diverse and complex opportunities for marketing experts to utilize to drive desired results.
Now that you have a general understanding of the SERP features that could be triggered based on a user’s search, we can dive further into SEO and PPC management.
SEO vs PPC Management
To reiterate quickly, SEO helps your website and its pages rank higher organically (non-paid) in search results. PPC ads are a form of paid digital advertising that utilizes focused targeting by demographics and keywords to trigger results for relevant users.
PPC ads typically show in prominent positions on the search results and can be known to hog the majority of clicks for highly searched, commercial terms.
Below we will go over a quick list of the pros and cons of SEO and PPC management.
Awareness: Showing up on search engines when people search for your chosen keywords lets more people know about your business.
Branding: Getting noticed when people search for things related to your business can help make your brand look good. People start to know and trust your brand when they find answers to their questions, and that can lead them to buy from you.
Trust and Credibility: Showing up in the regular search results can make people trust your business more. Lots of people ignore ads and believe the regular results, especially when they’re trying to decide what to buy. Being easy to find online makes your business look really good.
To better understand why this is important, you can visit our article about understanding Google’s E-E-A-T.
Strategic Versatility: Just as we went over the different types of features available in SERPs, this allows you the chance to reach new users in various ways.
Reputation and Reviews: SERPs will include reviews from different places, and having a strong reputation and review signals will further increase your rankings and consumer consideration.
Website Traffic: Increasing your website traffic allows for more opportunities for users to engage with your business and buy your products or services.
Return on investment (ROI): Unlike PPC, SEO doesn’t operate off of a pay-per-click model. Meaning, your cost is only the work that goes into developing, executing, and improving your SEO strategies. As paid clicks continue to trend upward, having SEO will pay off in the long run.
Longevity: Unlike with PPC, organic traffic won’t stop flowing due to the budget being spent. This is why all businesses should have a strong SEO strategy in place, regardless of using PPC management as well.
Strategic Benefits: Having your website rank high in organic search results is not a simple task. It requires a lot of research, time, and patience. But once you’re website is established, it is not easy for a competitor to simply pay more to show up above you. This is one of the many long-term benefits that comes with SEO, unlike with paid search (PPC).
As with everything, there cannot be good without challenges. Below we will list some that come to mind.
- Extremely competitive
- Ads dominate the top of SERPs
- Content development can be difficult for smaller businesses
- Algorithm updates to search engines can cause issues and unexpected change
- Tons of misinformation that can waste your time
The biggest thing when it comes to SEO is having an understanding of what is currently going on with search engines, and staying up to date on strategies that work. Meaning, it takes time. Not knowing where to start can be frustrating, and cause you to go down an endless rabbit hole of tasks that may or may not work. It is a good idea to research from credible sources if you’re a beginner to SEO.
PPC Management: Pros
Targeting: PPC helps you get your business in front of the people you want to reach. You can make ads that show up when users search for certain things, at certain times, in certain places, and more. However, regular organic traffic from searches is more random.
Speed: As mentioned above with SEO that takes time, a PPC campaign can be developed in days. There is no faster way to ensure you get in front of your target audience while they’re ready to buy your product or service.
Position on Search Results Pages: PPC ads dominate the top of the SERPs, especially above the fold of the content. Depending on the device the user is searching on, will define how many ads a user sees right away.
Dynamic Ads and Copy: Google Ads provides users the ability to utilize various combinations of ad headlines and descriptions to generate the best search ads to convert someone within your targeted audience.
Brand Visibility: PPC ads can also help bolster your brand by showing up in front of people who are interested in the same services or products that you offer, driving brand awareness and consideration.
Budget Control: While PPC can get quite costly if not managed properly, you’re able to be in full control of your budget and how it’s spent. Neglecting to manage your budget is one of the biggest PPC management mistakes.
Stability: Unlike SEO, PPC doesn’t fall victim to the random algorithm updates of the search engines. Not to say that PPC is immune from updates or changes that search engines make, but they tend to be way less impacted and easier to manage if it does.
PPC Management: Cons
As there are many benefits to PPC management, there are also downfalls as well. It is important to know these, so you can better navigate your decision-making.
- Easy for competitors to copy your ads
- Can get expensive
- Easy to start, time-consuming to master
- Popular keywords can be highly competitive
- Requires endless investment, and if turned off, traffic drops
SEO and PPC FAQs
How is ranking different when comparing PPC vs SEO?
Ranking in PPC (Pay-Per-Click) means your ad appears at the top of search results when certain keywords are searched. You pay each time someone clicks your ad. In SEO (Search Engine Optimization), ranking is about making your website show up naturally in search results without paying for clicks. It’s about making your site more relevant and trustworthy to search engines.
SEO vs PPC which is better?
Deciding between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) depends on your goals. SEO builds long-term visibility in search results without direct payment, but it takes time. PPC offers immediate visibility through paid ads, but you pay for each click. It’s about finding the right balance based on your timeline, budget, and objectives.
How long does it take to see SEO results?
Seeing results from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can take time. It often takes several months (typically ~90 days is standard) for changes to your website to impact search rankings. Patience is important as search engines need time to discover and evaluate these changes. Consistent efforts in improving your website’s content and technical aspects can lead to better visibility over time.
We hope that this article has proven to be beneficial for you in better understanding SEO and PPC management. Though different, both strategies can be used to hit your business goals. In our opinion, an integrated strategy that will maximize SEO and PPC is the best way to go.
Remember to use tracking tools, such as Google Analytics 4 which can prove to be very valuable. Both your PPC campaigns and organic traffic insights are able to be tracked and reported here. It is always important to reference data when making decisions on any digital marketing.
Of course, as with everything – it all depends on your budget, goals, timelines, and resources. If you’re not sure where to get started, our expert team is here to help. Schedule a FREE marketing consultation today!
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