SEO or PPC: Which Should Marketers Invest in First?
SEO or PPC? Both are both effective marketing strategies to send targeted audiences to your website. They are different, though. Understanding how they are different, and which one you should utilize first in your digital marketing campaign, is important to your success online.
SEO vs. PPC
Let’s tackle SEO first. Search engine optimization is the process of making your website attractive to not only search engines, but to users, as well. When your website has an intuitive navigation, informative and focused pages, clean HTML code and keyword-optimized meta tags, then you signal to search engines that you have pages that deserve to rank high in the search results.
SEO also involves making sure your website performs efficiently enough for users. This includes making it fast enough, mobile-friendly and easily navigable. These website factors are important to users, so they are important to search engines.
The downside to SEO is that it generally takes months or even years to gain traction in the search engines.
PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is much different, in that you can see results from it in a matter of days. Like any advertising, it’s important to research the best targeting for your business, create engaging ads, and display those ads at the perfect times for your target audience. It’s not easy, especially when you first start, but as you collect and analyze your data, you start to figure out which combinations of keywords, ads, locations and times of the day bring the most qualified users to your site.
What’s great about PPC is that you can use the information you gather from successful campaigns to boost your site’s SEO. The keywords that are the most effective in ads will also work for your website in organic searches, so it’s a win-win.
What to Do When You Have a Limited Budget
The best way to bring in targeted leads as soon as possible is to invest in PPC and SEO right from the start. However, if you do not have the budget to do this right away, there is an alternative that we recommend.
Start with SEO to get the basic foundation of your website in order. This means making sure your site functions well, existing pages are optimized for relevant keyword phrases, and you have the landing pages needed to convert visitors. Once you have laid a solid foundation, then invest money into PPC.
Putting your money into PPC while your website builds strength in the search engines is a great way to benefit from the people searching for your services and products each day. You will start getting leads faster, while still remaining in your budget.
So, let’s review. If you have the budget, invest in PPC and SEO right away. PPC ads will bring you leads quickly, while SEO will help you get your website noticed by the search engines and users for free organic traffic.
If your budget doesn’t allow investing in PPC and SEO, start by optimizing your website for relevant keywords. Once the site is optimized for search and users, you can switch gears to focus more on PPC. PPC ads can always be part of your campaign, and should be, as the results from your ads can be used effectively in your site’s SEO. With successful PPC and SEO management, you could end up having your site on search engine results pages twice for keywords, increasing the likelihood of people clicking through to your site.
Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our "Ultimate SEO Checklist."
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.