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SEO vs PPC - Which is best for your brand?

SEO vs PPC - Which is best for your brand?

Google processes 3.5B+ searches every day. 40,000 per second. How are you going to get your brand noticed? Your website ranking above your competitors? SEO vs PPC - the two best search engine marketing methods to generate sales and increase traffic.  Search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising - what, how, pros, cons, ROI, working together. Ready?

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A successful marketing strategy takes time and money. Choosing whether to do both pay-per-click ads and search engine optimization, is not a decision that can be made without fully understanding both.

SEO | Search engine optimization

Good SEO, and you’ll rank high in search engines, such as Google and Bing. Great SEO, will get you ranking position one, above your competitors. SEO is free, but takes time.

PPC | Pay-per-click

Google Ads, for instance, is how you would create PPC advertisements which appear above organic content in search engine results pages - SERPs. Above your competitors’ organic content, and your own. PPC costs time and money.

While paid ads in search results are the most common form of PPC, there are other forms. Including display advertising - banner ads, and remarketing. Both of which I’ll explain later.

So which should you use for your business - SEO or PPC?

It's a long read, being such a massive topic of discussion, so feel free to skip down to the sections that you need...

Table of contents

What’s the difference between SEO and PPC?

In a nutshell, SEO is how to drive organic traffic to your website by optimizing web pages, and PPC are ads that you pay for, appearing at the top and foot of search engine results pages - SERPs, or displayed on other websites.

Organic traffic

Search engine optimization - SEO - is how to rank in search engines, organically. Apart from your time, it’s free.

PR crisis management guide ranking number one in SERPs - SEO vs PPC

PR crisis management guide, ranking in organic results.

Paid traffic

As soon as your search ad goes live, you’ll see your web page at the top of Google’s search page, above organic results.

Nice, but it costs you.

Talkwalker PPC ad ranking number one in SERPs

Talkwalker paid ad, at the top of page one.

SEO basic elements

Search engine optimization means including content on your website that will increase your visibility, credibility, and relevance.

On-page optimization includes...

  • H1 tags that include the keyword you’re looking to rank for
  • Teasing meta descriptions with the relevant keyword towards the start
  • Alt text behind all images, that are descriptive and include your keyword
  • Natural inclusion of your keyword in your content
  • Titles - H2, H3, H4 - that include your keyword

When a search engine crawls your website, it’ll understand what your site is about, identify whether it’s trustworthy, and recognize it as a valuable source for users performing searches. It will then move up in the ranking.

Off-page optimization - off-page SEO - are methods used away from your website, that will also improve the ranking, and includes...

  • Backlinks or inbound links - search engines use backlinks as proof of the quality of a website’s content. The more high-value backlinks, the higher a site will rank. High-value links come from sites with high domain authority and/or domain extensions such as .GOV, .EDU.

  • Social media marketing - sharing content on your social media channels.

  • Guest blogging

  • Influencer marketing

  • Business directories - to prove authority and authenticity.posts, reviews, etc.

  • Linked and unlinked brand mentions - in articles, press releases, guest posts, reviews, etc.

  • Internal linking on website, to help users navigate your site

  • Included in listicles

  • Links from customer review sites - user-generated content is free marketing that’s considered trustworthy by consumers.

Don’t go mad, though. Include too many search terms, fake pages, irrelevant content, and Google will question your intent.

Word of warning... it might seem obvious, but don’t include important keywords or content as part of an image and expect it to count towards SEO. Search engines won’t recognize it.

SEO vs PPC image that search engines can't use to rank in SERPs

Pretty… worthless.

PPC basic elements

Every time someone clicks on your PPC ad, you pay a fee. Your ads can be targeted towards users’ interests, geographical location, gender, age group, profession, etc. They can promote a special deal, event, product, downloadable content.

PPC ads are placed at the top and bottom of search engine result pages. Above and below organic search results. Or display ads and remarketing ads that appear on other appropriate websites.

wikiHow site showing PPC display ads

Display ads on wikiHow website. Some relevant. Some not so relevant.

I scrolled further down the page - How to Make Pancakes - and found ads targeted to my location. Luxembourg. And ads targeted towards, I don’t know what.

Targeted and untargeted paid display ads on wikiHow website

MyOffer.lu is targeted to my IP address.
The clairvoyance ad? Certainly not targeted towards me.

PPC ads bring immediate results, unlike the waiting game that is SEO. Of course, if you pause your ads, you’ll stop getting clicks.

PPC ads appear above and below organic traffic, on page one in search engines

Paid search ads appear above and below organic results, on page one.

The most popular platform for PPC ad campaigns is Google Ads. You’ll be able to measure ROI, identify which ads are performing, and those that need work. How many conversions you’re getting, and, how much you’ll need to bid, so you’ll appear at the top of the paid ads on page one.

Which is better for my brand - SEO vs PPC?

It depends on what you want.

  • Do you want leads now, for an event, etc.?
  • Are you prepared to wait for results?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Do you have high domain authority?
  • How do your competitors rank in organic search?

If you’re a small business or a start up, you may not have the budget for paid advertising. With little competition, your SEO strategy could increase online visibility in local and organic search results. As a long-term strategy, SEO won’t break the bank, and once you’re ranking, traffic will be constant.

Your market may be niche, which means that you could find a keyword that’s relevant, has low competition, and a good monthly search volume. Get in there fast and develop your SEO strategy to rank for this keyword, before someone else does.

If you’re an ecommerce site, looking to compete with the likes of Amazon, your website is going to struggle to outrank in organic search results. PPC paid ads would kick start your brand awareness campaign.

If your business has a generous advertising budget, get the PPC ads live now. You’ll see results immediately. You can also target specific audiences, unlike handing over big bucks for a billboard, only relevant to 10 out of 100 passers-by.

SEO and PPC are efficient methods of driving traffic to a website. Proven to bring results, working separately or together. But, there are some instances where one wins over the other…

Time-restricted promotion or event

Promo time! For the next two weeks, you can buy our product with a 50% reduction.

No way is search engine optimization the right strategy for this. The promo will be over, before you’ve started to rank.

Webinar scheduled for next month. Limited number of places. Register now!

Nope. SEO isn’t gonna hack it. Get those PPC ads live. ASAP!

Unique product

Earning organic traffic is about publishing content that users are already searching for. Optimizing your product page - travel books for America - with your keyword, synonyms, and variations. Including your H1, H2s, meta and alt tags. As your ranking increases, your traffic increases.

But… what if your business has launched a unique product. Cheese flavored ice cream. It’s unlikely that anyone is searching for cheese flavored ice cream.

Obvs, I could be wrong.

You won’t have any trouble ranking, but your traffic will be severely limited. To introduce your new, cheesy product, a PPC ad campaign will kick-start awareness.

Downloadable content

Your team has written a cracking gated report. Created the landing page. Now it’s time to promote.

Given the fact that landing pages generally don’t rank well - short content, no backlinks - it’s a big ask to get organic traffic to landing pages.

You could write a blog post, teasing the content of the report and offering it as a free download. But then you still have to get the post to rank in SERPs.

If you’re looking for quick results, use PPC to drive traffic straight to the landing page. Then, start counting those clicks.

Promoted social media ad - Talkwalker - crisis management templates

Example of paid ad - with CTA - linking to a landing page that offers a free download.

What’s the ROI difference - SEO vs PPC?

Let’s look at the tortoise vs the hare...

The SEO tortoise

SEO can be a slow burner. After your keyword research, you’ll optimize your website. Write blog posts. Create internal links. Earn backlinks. Post guest blogs, etc. On top of this, you’ll have to wait to rank in SERPs. You could be looking at a few months.

Your site will grow. Quality will improve. Authority will increase. Search engines will recognize the credibility and relevance of your content, and send more traffic to your website.

You can’t wave a magic wand and get page one ranking immediately. You can’t pay for position one. It’s a waiting game. And while you’re waiting, continue updating and improving your website.

It’s free. It takes time. It wins, in the long-term.

The PPC Hare

PPC is quick. You’ll see results almost immediately. But, when you stop paying, search engines will pull your ads. Also, depending on how much you’ve spent, your ad might be shown to a limited audience.

Search engines will judge your ads, as they do with SEO. Which is why monitoring, testing and tweaking your ads and/or budget is crucial, so you don’t waste money.

Define your goals and set your budget accordingly. For instance…

  • You want to generate 700 site visitors per month
  • The cost-per-click - CPC - of your keyword is $1.50
  • Your monthly budget needs to be $1050

If you need to reduce your budget, you can adjust your ads to increase relevancy and find cheaper keywords. As I said, you should monitor continually, otherwise you could waste money.

It costs. It’s fast. It wins, in the short-term.

“Slow and steady wins the race.” Aesop's Fables

What is PPC?

Pay-per-click - PPC - brings immediate results and traffic from search engines. Set up a PPC paid ad campaign, and your website will quickly receive traffic.

It’s a form of paid advertising - Google Ads is search engine advertising - where you pay for clicks on your ads, driving traffic to your website. Social media channels - Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, etc. - use PPC as part of their business models.

Targeting audiences in Facebook for PPC ads

Facebook - target custom audiences for your paid social media promotions.

26% of users that click on Facebook ads, end up buying the product. In 2017, a CMO survey predicted that brands will double their paid social budgets by 2023.

Once you know how to set up your PPC ads, it’s simple. But, if you want winning results, you’ll need a PPC strategy.

Paid per-click strategy basics checklist to proof your PPC ads

Before you put your PPC ad campaign live, check you've done the basics.

A big advantage of PPC marketing is that you can target the users that you want to visit your site - location, age, income, background.

For instance. If you’re looking to set up ads on social media, to target effectively you’ll need to use a social analytics platform, like Talkwalker. You’ll be able to analyze your social media accounts and pull out data that identifies the demographics of your audience. What content they’re engaging with.

Talkwalker Analytics - PPC advertising - demographics data for targeting ads

Talkwalker Analytics platform - social data showing audience preferences on Facebook and Twitter.

PPC costs vary, depending on the keywords you bid for. A highly competitive keyword, can drive costs up to the hundreds. But, keep your bids too low, and you could miss the top spot on the first page of search results.

No one puts my brand on page two.

The ranking of your PPC ad depends on how much you bid on keywords, the quality and relevance of your keywords and ads, and the landing page you’re directing visitors to.

There are several types of paid advertisements...

Text ads

Text ads appear in results when a user performs a search that includes a specific keyword. They’re easy to spot, as they’re labeled ‘ad’.

In my opinion, we’ve become blind to these ads, and scroll straight down to the organic content. The content we trust.

PPC ads in Google, appear above SEO ranked search results

Three paid ads on page one, placed above organic search results.

Social media ads

To create social media ads, you’ll need headline, description, and you can include call buttons, location info, CTAs, and links to landing pages on your website.

Facebook sponsored ad for PPC advertising, includes CTA button

SMA example - Facebook sponsored ad, with CTA Sign Up button.

Display network ads

Display ads are the banners you see on websites that sell space to advertisers. Display ads can be placed on sites that you as a marketer, consider relevant to your brand. They can also be used for retargeting potential customers. Those ones that have been to your site, but left without making a purchase.

Targeted paid banner ad - display ad - appearing at top of Guardian newspaper

Paid advertisement placed above a newspaper’s masthead.

Paid display ad - banner - audience targeted - appearing on Telegraph newspaper

Same ad appears when I check out another online newspaper.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Give me my SEO & PPC strategy checklists!

Manage your pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization with my five free best practice templates.

Pros and cons of PPC

Check out the pros and cons of PPC, so you can decide if it'll work for your business.

PPC pros

Why would you want to splash the cash, when you can earn high click-through rates and trust through organic search?

Let’s check out the benefits of PPC advertising.

Maximum brand visibility

Paid ads allow you to rank above organic search results, so users will see your brand before they see your competitors content. You can also pay to display your PPC ads on relevant websites.

To ensure your PPC is cost effective, aim for a strong Quality Score.

Quality Score definition - when a high percentage of users see and click your ads, it demonstrates to search engines that your content is high quality and relevant. Your ad will get a higher impression share, for the same cost. But, the cost will be lower per engagement. If you’re looking to improve your Quality Score, you’ll need to increase your post engagement rates.

Eyeballs, folks. It’s what we’re all after.

Budget control

Set your goals and how much you’re prepared to spend per day. Set your budget, and stick to it.

Targeted users

Trying to get your content in front of the right people is a cinch with PPC ads, as they can be targeted by keywords, demographics, location, language, device, time of day/week, and previous visitors.

You only pay for the users you want on your website.

Page ranking

You’ve seen them - even if you don’t click - every time you do a search in Google. Above the fold. Above and below organic search results. Ad. Ad. Ad.

Total control

PPC ads are versatile, with regard to the assets you can include - targeted geography, links to your site, call buttons, bullet points, pricing.

It’s your choice, where you send users that clicked your paid ad. It’s your choice what you show them on your landing page.

Visual product ads

These are super cool if you’ve got a pretty product. Google lets you create product listing ads - PLAs - for your brand. Not something you can do in organic results. Your click-through rate - CTR - will improve as users can see what they’re searching for, rather than having to guess.

Bing search engine showing Amazon visual PPC ads

Bing search engine - Amazon paid ad for Samsung smartphone, with images.

Immediate results

Optimizing content for search engines and achieving a page one ranking, is the long game. Paid search engine ads can be built, and live within a day. Results coming through instantly.

Being able to earn clicks so quickly, is beneficial if you’re promoting a product launch or event.

Marketing insights

Use Google Analytics and Keyword Planner to track conversion rates, which keywords convert, and their cost. Use this data to boost your paid ads, and your content marketing strategy.

Google Analytics - SEO tool

Google Analytics for keyword analysis.

Test, test, test

Perform A/B tests with your paid campaigns - content, CTA buttons, landing pages, images - to improve ad performance.

Paid Social - PPC tool

With an average 20% of digital marketing budget going into social ads, it's vital that paid is integrated into your brand’s campaign planning, monitoring and measurement. Combining paid, owned and earned data into real-time dashboards, centralizes all your reporting, streamlines your KPIs, and gives you a complete picture of your digital campaigns, so you can optimize your performance, and maximize the ROI of your social media efforts.

Add your PPC campaigns to Talkwalker, and use Paid Social if you want…

Full visibility & control of paid, owned & earned social media

Social media advertising results for a given digital campaign - SEO vs PPC

Paid ads underperforming? Paid Social gives you direct access to data so you can quickly adapt your content.

Content ideation from paid ads & organic content

Linkedin ad - SEO vs PPC

A combined social campaign dashboard means you can identify the most engaging messages & optimize ad spend.

Faster, automated reporting across all channels

Owned earned paid data in one campaign dashboard - SEO vs PPC

Consolidate owned, earned & paid data in a single report for fast, accurate reporting.

Brand protection from harmful comments on ads

Negative comments social ads - SEO vs PPC

Find negative comments in paid ads with sentiment-based alerts, so you can stop or manage the discussion.

PPC cons

Now you know the benefits of paid advertising, we should take a look at what can go wrong in a PPC campaign...

PPC requires ongoing investment

Once the money stops, the ads stop. When the ad stops, the traffic stops. Of course, you can control your spending, but optimizing your campaign can take time, and the cost will quickly mount up. Especially if you’re targeting a highly competitive keyword.

Not everyone’s a fan of PPC ads

It’s clearly an ad, because there’s an ad tag. As a consumer, are you a clicker of ads? Or are you blind to them - scrolling down to the organic results? Maybe you just don’t trust them?

70 - 80% of users ignore paid ads, and go straight to the organic results.

PPC ads lose effectiveness

Run your ad campaign too long, and it’ll stop working. Ad blindness is a reality. Worse case scenario? If your ad starts to irritate people, they’ll use ad blockers. Keep your ads fresh - new copy, images, CTAs, etc. Try not to bombard people.

Maybe avoid websites that display more ads than content…

Newspaper overwhelmed with promotional adverts

Stop. My eyes are bleeding.

What is SEO?

Here’s my definition of search engine optimization - SEO. Techniques that will help your website rank higher in search engine results pages - SERPs. Appearing above the fold on page one in a search engine makes your site more visible to users searching for answers. If you’re more visible, you’ll earn more organic traffic.

Big win.

SEO involves optimizing website pages - title tags, image tags, meta descriptions, keywords, internal links, earning backlinks. Search engines - Google, Bing, etc. - will also check the structure of a website, design, navigation, user behavior, domain authority, and more. Ranking results will start to show once a web page has been crawled, indexed, and identified as relevant and trustworthy by a search engine.

Achieving good SEO results takes time. On the plus side, once you get higher ranking, it’s more than likely that you’ll stay there.

If you don’t feel confident, there are SEO agencies you can hire to do the work for you, but costs can escalate.

BTW… if an SEO agency promises top of page one ranking in 24 hours, walk away. No. Run away. It’s no longer possible to trick search engines. There is no magic bullet. You will lose money.

Unlike paid ads, you can’t pay a search engine to appear at the top. Search engine algorithms determine the ranking of your website, blog post, etc. It’s up to you to work out what a search engine is looking for. Remembering that a search engine’s goal is to present the most relevant, high-quality results to searchers.

It’s important that when writing your content or optimizing existing pages, you’re talking to humans. Never, ever write for bots.

There are about 200 SEO ranking factors that influence how Google places a website in its search engine. The factors are secret, to avoid marketers playing the system. But, some are obvious - value of inbound links, domain authority, relevance, up to date content, site structure, loading time.

Domain authority - DA - an important ranking factor. It indicates the power a working domain name has. Based on age, popularity, and size. If your DA is high, you’ll rank higher in SERPs.

  • Age - if a domain name has been well maintained over time, and generated traffic, search engines identify it as a trusted source.
  • Popularity - the number and quality of backlinks to a website, are proof that the site has relevant information.
  • Size - a high number of pages with high-quality content, usually means more backlinks/inbound.

Moz ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank on SERPs. DA ranges from one to 100 - higher scores bringing a better chance of ranking

Pros and cons of SEO

Let's look at the pros and cons of your business investing time in search engine optimization.

SEO pros

Your webpage is on page one. Position one. Your competitors can’t flash the cash, and bump you down.

Phew!

Organic traffic is hitting your website. Big benefit. But there are more…

Brand awareness

If you’re on page one, at the top, your business is in the face of consumers. Lots of eyeballs.

Drives relevant, targeted traffic

Using long-tail keywords - 3-5 word phrases - as part of your SEO strategy, increases traffic from consumers further along the buying funnel.

For example, a user who’s searching for ‘travel books’ is doing some vague research. Not decided where they’re travelling. How much they want to spend. When they’ll take a trip.

But the user searching for ‘travel books about going to South Africa’, knows where they want to go. May have already booked the holiday. Is ready to spend money on your book.

Long-tail keywords work for SEO, ensuring visitors know what they're going to find

Amazon - top three spots. The master of long-tail keywords.

People also like can inspire long-tail SEO keyword ideas

BTW - check ‘People also ask’ in SERPs, for long-tail keyword inspiration.

Trust and credibility

Having your site rank highly in organic results can influence your perceived authenticity with an audience looking for your services. Many users skip ads and trust organic results more highly. Being visible gives your brand a big, fat stamp of approval.

Including strong reviews and reputation signals on your site - user-generated content/UGC - will further strengthen trust.

90% of consumers say that user-generated content influences their purchasing decisions.

Cost-per-click - CPC

All the traffic your website receives that’s organic, is free. Yes - apart from the time it takes to optimize your site - it’s free!

Return on investment

ROI from SEO earned traffic is higher than paid media. Pretty obvious, as SEO is free.

Click through rate - CTR

More users click on organic links in search results. You’re going to generate more clicks than you would with PPC ads, if your website ranks above the fold on page one.

Roughly 40% of total ecommerce global traffic comes from search. 35% is organic. 4% is through paid ads.

To get the best of SEO vs PPC, I’d suggest you use paid ads according to your budget, and optimize for page one ranking. You’ll maximize your clicks, and - if you win the game - push your competition below the fold.

SEO keeps on giving

Stop throwing cash at your ads, and your traffic stops. Take a week away from your desk, and you’ll continue to get organic traffic to your website. Long after you’ve stopped your ads, your website will continue to receive traffic.

It’s free advertising

You don’t have to pay to rank organically in search engines. You don’t have to hand over cash to get people to see your content. Consumers hunt you down in Google search results.

You’ll need to do continual optimization. Find new keywords. Update content. Earn backlinks. Create new pages.

SEO cons

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to SEO. Yes, a high ranking will bring a ton of traffic. But, it does take time to attain that high ranking, so the traffic can be slow to arrive.

If you’re a newbie and the keywords you want to target are highly competitive, you could find yourself competing with big brands. Time for an SEO strategy rethink.

Here are other SEO minefields that you should be aware of…

Shifts in ranking

The higher you rank, the more traffic your site gets. So when your ranking drops a few places, it's frustrating. When it plummets, there's cause for concern. Here are five reasons why your page ranking can change...

1. Algorithms - they can change with the wind. You’ve optimized your website. It’s climbing in the ranking. Heading for position one.

BOOM!

The search engine updates or adjusts its algorithm. This means, depending on the changes, that your website could drop like a stone. Google constantly tweaks its ranking algorithm, but some of the updates are game changers, targeting big issues…

  • Panda - plagiarized, duplicated, or thin content, user-generated spam, keyword stuffing
  • Penguin - spammy or irrelevant links, over-optimized anchor text
  • Hummingbird - keyword stuffing, poor quality content
  • Pigeon - poor on- and off-page SEO
  • Mobile - pages not responsive for mobiles are filtered out of SERPs, or down-ranked
  • RankBrain - Google says this is the third most important ranking factor, determines the most relevant results for search engine queries, shallow content, poor UX
  • Fred - violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, low quality blog posts for generating ad revenue

2. Changes to searcher intent - can alter search results, meaning certain web pages dropping in SERPs.

For example... a search for Tesla in 2002, first result would have been the Wikipedia page about Nikola Tesla - renowned engineer and physicist. The same search a couple of years later, would have displayed Telsa.com in position one. More people searching for electric cars, has driven the Tesla website up the rankings.

3. Competitors - if you're doing SEO, you can bet your bottom dollar that your competition is too. If they earn more high-quality backlinks than you, create more relevant pages, repurpose and update blog posts, etc., they’ll probably start to outrank you.

Yikes!

SEO never stops. Work on the quality of your content. Target new keywords. Ensure your site loading time hasn’t slowed down. Implement internal links. Earn more inbound links.

Fight back. But keep it clean...

4. Devious link building - while your web pages need inbound links from high authority domains, don’t cheat. The links must be natural. If you’ve paid for them, whether it’s with cash or free gifts, you’ll be breaking Google’s rules.

You must monitor your backlinks regularly, in case you’ve earned an unnatural or dodgy link. If this happens, remove or disavow quickly. Ignore, and you’ll likely end up with a penalty, resulting in your ranking dropping.

5. Technical issues - to index and rank your web pages, search engines need to be able to crawl each page. If they can’t, your ranking will drop. If you spot a massive change in your position in SERPs, check the pages that are dropping. Are they crawlable? Do they load properly?

SEO never stops

Once you’ve optimized your website, it must be maintained to increase or keep your page ranking. Updated content to keep it relevant, keyword research, link building - internal and backlinks, adding new content.

SEO requires patience

With PPC, you’ll immediately start to see results. An increase in page ranking can take months to kick in, after you’ve optimized your site.

If you’re trying to make an impact quickly - product launch, for instance - PPC would be quicker.

Authoritative content

Who are you more likely to ask about how to become a Formula 1 racing driver? Me or Lewis Hamilton?

Consumers want to talk to experts. Your website content has to be unique, authoritative, and it should prove your expertise. Prove that your business is leading your industry.

This isn’t really a con, but it does require time and effort, maintaining your business as a subject matter expert.

SEO vs PPC keyword research

The definition of keyword research is identifying the words and phrases that people use in search engines. Once relevant keywords have been found, optimization of content, with the goal of ranking highly in results pages.

Keyword research is not only part of a brand’s SEO strategy. It also fuels content marketing, social media, and PPC.

SEO vs PPC keyword research differs for each…

SEO keyword research

You sell travel books. You want to appear at the top of SERPs when someone searches for ‘books’. That’s going to be a toughie. While you’ll likely show up in local searches for bookstores, you’ll always be beaten by the biggies like Amazon.

Identify your unique selling points - USPs. If a potential customer is performing a search, what do they need to type to find you? ‘Travel books’ is a good start, but still broad.

Using Google Ads Keyword Planner, do a search for ‘books’, and you’ll see the average times that keyword is search per month is 100 - 1K.

Ouch!

Depending on the size of your business, it’s going to be hard to rank organically.

Google Ads keyword planner to check volume and bidding prices

Google Ads Keyword Planner.

Don’t give up! This awesome SEO tool offers related keywords. Specific authors, paperback, hardback, eBook, second hand, travel, cruises, coach tours, etc., etc.

To define your list of keywords, check out your competitors and what they’re ranking for. If there are a lot of businesses targeting the same keywords, you’ll need to fine-tune.

  • Optimize your H1, H2, H3, H4 titles
  • Create intriguing meta descriptions
  • Write unique content and update regularly
  • Improve your site’s domain authority

PPC keyword research

Sticking with the original keyword you chose for your website selling travel books - books - the keyword planner shows us that a high range, top of page bid is set at 1.76 euros. Not bad. Worth a try?

Consider this… I’m looking for a book on how to do tapestry.

Bear with me on this...

If I click your ad - keyword = books - I’m going to find travel books.

That’s good, no?

No.

I’ve just cost you money by clicking on your ad. Not found what I wanted, and left - unhappy - to try and find my tapestry book elsewhere

Each of your keywords must have a match type - broad, modified broad, phrase, exact match...

Keyword match types

Here are the four keyword match types...

1. Broad match type - default that reaches the widest audience. Taking your keyword or phrase, it will appear whenever a user’s search includes any of those words, in any order. It could also include similar words.

Keyword - travel books - your ad could be displayed for searches - used books, travel the world.

Broad match drives clicks, lots of clicks, but you’ll pay for irrelevant traffic that’s not going to convert.

I WANT BOOKS ABOUT TAPESTRY!!!

Modified broad match type - same wide audience, but you’ve more control over who gets to see your ads, by locking words. Using + in your term, tells Google that the search query has to include that term.

Example…

  • +travel books = travel books, travel, travel seats
  • travel +books = travel books, cooking the books, tapestry books

2. Phrase match type - you’ve got more control with this type. You’re telling Google that your phrase has to be shown in the correct order. But, the search engine can include words before and after.

Example…

  • Keyword - travel books - your ad could appear when a user searches for secondhand books, hardback travel books, travel books giveaway.

But not for searches such as travel America books, tapestry books.

3. Exact match type - specific match type that works if you want to show up for your exact keyword. While it’s restrictive and you’ll get less traffic, you’ll reduce costs, your leads will be genuine and they’ll be raring to buy.

Nothing stands still at Google, and it made changes that mean your ads could match searches containing synonyms, plurals, and other variations of your keyword.

Example…

  • Keyword - travel books - Arabic traveling books, travel the world books.

Using the appropriate match type, means you can reach a wide audience, or target a more relevant one. Choosing the right one will save you money, and avoid useless traffic flooding your website.

Before we move on, you can also set up negative keywords. Use these to get rid of unqualified searches.

Example…

  • Keyword - travel books - negative keyword - secondhand - Google won’t show you any searches that include the word ‘secondhand’.

PPC and SEO working together

Can SEO and PPC work together? Should they work together?

Absolutely. Separate, they both drive results. Together - if you know how - results will increase.

  • SEO is ideal for achieving your long-term goals. Targeting low-competition keywords, that once ranking, will continue to bring results.

  • PPC works for meeting short-term goals. Targeting high-competition keywords, that have so many other websites using them, that you’ll struggle to rank.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of running an SEO and PPC combination…

  • The keyword research and conversion data you identify for PPC, can also be used for your content, to help achieve a high page ranking.

  • A/B testing of your paid ad copy, landing pages, CTAs, etc., will provide insights that can be used when creating or optimizing the content you want to rank organically - blog posts, landing pages, etc.

  • You’ve created a keyword plan for your long-term search engine optimization strategy, which you can test in your pay-per-click advertising campaign first.

  • If you’ve identified useful keywords, but they’re high price, low converting, high volume, you can include them in your organic content, and test the viability of the keyword.

  • Use Ahrefs' SEO tool to find which keywords your competitors are bidding on, and include them in your SEO strategy and PPC campaign.

Ahrefs SEO vs PPC tool - showing Amazon's paid keywords

Ahrefs site explorer.

Find out the keywords your competitors are bidding on, and the landing pages they’re sending traffic to.

  • Optimizing a page for a keyword, improves your chances of ranking on page one, in position one. Buying PPC ads for the same keyword - with a high bid - gets your ad near the top of the page. Do SEO and PPC for the same keyword, and you'll dominate page one, and win clicks.

  • Sticking with the above idea of PPC and SEO ranking number one, a Google study found that if you pause your ad, about 89% of the traffic generated by the ad would not be replaced by the organic result. Even if youre ranking number one organically, pausing your ad will negatively impact your website traffic.

  • You're ranking number one, organically. Traffic looks good. But some consumers can take an age to decide to buy. Retargeting, or remarketing, can recapture these potential customers, and bring them back to your site. For example, a visitor to your website, added your product to their shopping cart, then bounced away. Buy ad space on another site, and display the product they viewed.

Personally, I can't escape Amazon ads for shoes, regardless of which site I'm on. No idea why.

  • PPC vs SEO working together will give you a massive source of data, to help when making brand marketing decisions. Some of the metrics you can measure, include…
    - bounce rate
    - exit rate
    - time spent on page/site
    - click thru rate
    - conversion rate

    Use these metrics to identify the best keywords for generating sales. Which keywords are sending visitors to your website? Of those, which ones are converting visitors?

Check out Dan’s post - The importance of data-driven decision making in marketing - to understand how to use data analysis to drive business intelligence.

SEO and PPC compliment each other, so a search engine strategy using both, will bring increased results.

SEO vs PPC mistakes to avoid

Okay, you understand SEO vs PPC. I’m now going to share with you what you should not do. What to avoid when you’re optimizing your website. What you have to do when you’re running an ad campaign.

SEO mistakes

Duplicated content. Each page on your website should have unique content. If it’s on your homepage, it should not appear on your Contact Us page. Search engines crawl your site looking for relevant, current, and updated content.

Duplicated content will not be accepted. I repeat...

Keyword stuffing

Something that used to be popular, and for a time, it worked. You’ve chosen the keyword for your page, and you’ve managed to shoehorn it into every single sentence.

Nice.

Some of the sentences are a bit clunky. Several times in a single sentence, could be conceived as overkill. But hey! It’s all about the ranking.

BLACK HAT SEO!

Do not ever underestimate the power of search engines. Yes, keyword stuffing used to be effective… until search engines wised-up. Now? You’ll be penalized. Your ranking will drop. Your site could even be suspended.

You’re writing for humans, not search engines.

Too many keywords

Best practice is one main keyword per page. This includes in your meta description, H1/H2 titles, URL. For the anchor text in your backlinks, try synonyms or variations of your keyword. Same for your image alt tags. Mix it up a bit.

Remember, don’t stuff keywords. You’ll enrage the search engines.

Hidden text and links

Try to manipulate search rankings, and you're in trouble. Big trouble. Definite no nos include…

  • White text on a white background
  • Hiding text behind images
  • Font size of zero
  • Hiding links behind a single character
  • Positioning text off-screen

Sneaky.

Cloaking

The dodgy practice of presenting different content/URLs to humans and search engines.

For a deeper understanding of what you can and can’t do in your SEO strategy, check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

PPC mistakes

Targeted keywords

To avoid too much competition, avoid generic keywords. If you want qualified leads and conversions - which, of course, you do - target your keywords.

Monitor, update, improve

These are costing you money. If they’re not working, it’s money down the pan. Track your ad campaigns and optimize to make sure they’re converting. If they’re not, test new content, audiences, channels.

Define your audience

Segment your PPC ad campaigns by groups - audience and intent. Ask yourself… who are your ads for? If you can’t answer, you won’t be writing relevant content or building landing pages that convert.

Hitting too many channels

This strategy won’t necessarily bring the best results. With each channel charging a different fee, if you try to hit them all, you can say hello to bankruptcy. Not every channel is going to work for your business, or your budget. It makes sense to concentrate on one, rather than the entire gang.

Landing pages

Don’t send all your traffic to your homepage. Each campaign should direct to its own landing page - ensure they’re relevant - if you’re looking to boost conversions and lead generation.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet, to remind you of the pros and cons of SEO vs PPC…

SEO vs PPC pros and cons cheat sheet

SEO vs PPC cheat sheet.

Takeaway

Every business has a couple of goals that span industries. To grow and increase sales. With the Internet came huge opportunities for brands to market. To advertise their products. To sell their products. To achieve this, they need to drive traffic to their websites.

This SEO vs PPC guide is to help you decide which is best for your business. Do you choose one or both?

If you don’t bother with SEO, or your efforts are second best, you’ll have to spend a fortune on paid ads to market to consumers. I believe that SEO is the primary method. While you wait for your search engine optimization to kick in and your web pages to start ranking, use PPC to reinforce your marketing. If you have a product launch, promo, or event, get your PPC ads live and grab some immediate attention.

Working together, SEO and PPC will get eyeballs on your content. You’ll rank higher than your competitors. You’ll boost sales.

Go optimize!

Pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization increase the visibility of your brand. They can feed off each other, creating a single, powerful marketing tool that drives traffic and increases sales. To manage your campaigns effectively, I've created five SEO and PPC checklists. Download them, and start ranking.

I need SEO vs PPC strategy checklists!

Dominate page one in search engines, with my five free SEO and PPC templates.

New Talkwalker feature - Paid Social

The competition amongst brands for online attention, has never been so intense. To win, marketers must use every weapon in their arsenal - SEO, owned media, earned media, and paid media. Realizing this, we've added a new feature to our analytics suite - Paid Social.

Paid social data is an integral part of marketing. Bringing together paid, owned and earned data into real-time dashboards, gives you full visibility of your digital campaigns, so you can perform deep analysis, and maximize the ROI of your social media activities.

If you'd like to learn more about how Paid Social will help manage your digital campaigns, set up a meeting with one of our social media experts. You won't regret it.

Paid social on Talkwalker