To be successful, every company needs to drive steady traffic to their website. You’ve probably heard the terms pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) being thrown around, but may not know how to use them. They both are powerful ways to drive people to your site. Though their end goal is the same, they require different strategies. One method can work very well for certain circumstances, while the other may fail in the same situation. To use them successfully, you need to know more about them.

SEO

SEO tactics are employed to help grow your organic traffic and hopefully rank your website on the first page of the major search engines. Google is by far the largest search engine; so most SEO strategies are created with Google’s rules in mind. SEO is a long-term play that takes planning and continued optimization.

Utilize SEO tactics when you:

  • Want sustained results
    • Getting to the first page of search engine results can be a slow process but once your website gets there, you will see continued organic traffic. Unlike PPC, organic traffic does not go away the moment you stop paying, so developing and maintaining organic traffic can sustain a business when marketing spend is low or cut back.
  • Have time, but may have limited funds
    • With SEO you are not directly “paying” for clicks, but it isn’t free. SEO requires content-rich websites that are regularly updated. This is the only way to inform search engines that your site is relevant and remind the search engines to keep your site at the top of the pile. It takes a significant amount of work to create and promote content. If you have the time to dedicate to it, it will generally be more cost-effective over time than other paid marketing tactics for driving brand awareness and traffic to your site.
  • Want to build credibility and trust
    • Having your site shown high in the organic results affects your perceived credibility with people looking for your services. Many users scroll past the ads and trust organic results more highly.

PPC 

Pay-per-click marketing is advertising on search engine results pages. You bid to have your ad appear as a sponsored result when someone searches something that includes your keywords. Every time a user clicks on that ad, you pay for that click.

Your keywords and your budget (total budget and/or ceiling you want to pay per click) will be decided upon prior to running the ads.

A couple popular PPC advertising platforms are Google Ads (AdWords) and Facebook’s advertising platform.

Utilize PPC tactics when you:

  • Need to see immediate traffic
    • PPC delivers fast results. This is because once your PPC campaign is approved (assuming your bids are high enough to merit priority placement), your ads will immediately be displayed for people to see.
  • Want highly targeted traffic
    • PPC marketing allows you to get very specific with who you are targeting to see your ads. For example, you can look at age range, gender, marital status, education level, and income level of the people who will be targeted with your ad. This makes PPC a good way to reach the specific demographic of people your business needs.
  • Have a time-sensitive offer
    • When you have a service, event, or other promotion that is time sensitive, PPC can start driving traffic almost immediately. Since SEO can take much longer to have an effect, results may come too late.

While those are examples of when you might have a preference toward one method over the other, ideally you would employ both SEO and PPC tactics as they each can play a strong role in your marketing strategy.