SEO vs. PPC: How to Get the Best of Both Worlds in 2021

/ marketing / 8 min read
Raul Harman

Virtually anytime you conduct a Google search, you end up clicking on a certain link in the SERPs. Search engines are still the major website traffic drivers.

Given these facts, it’s not surprising that businesses are finally starting to understand the importance of SEO and investing in it extensively.

However, greater competition online means that putting yourself in front of the right audiences has become more challenging.

Fear not, there are numerous ways to build a solid online identity and get yourself noticed. These tactics usually boil down to two key options- search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search (PPC). Both have a common goal- to increase your online visibility and generate more leads - however, they require completely different methodologies and deliver very different results.

So, how do you determine which tactic is better for your online presence? More importantly, can we combine SEO and PPC strategies to produce even better results?

Let’s dive in to find out.

How SEO and PPC are Different

Source: Emagine.

To understand how SEO and PPC can work together, you first need to understand the major differences between these two aspects of digital marketing. Here is what to keep in mind.

Helping Marketers Achieve Different Goals

When I say “SEO,” the first thing that probably crosses your mind is keywords and organic rankings. As SEO experts from New York point out: “70% of search engine users click on non-paid (organic) listings instead of the ads”.

Even though these are the basics of your online presence, SEO actually goes far beyond that. When planned and implemented strategically, SEO helps you establish an authoritative brand image and build trust with your audiences.

As such, SEO doesn’t bring great results overnight. Instead, it requires taking lots of tiny, gradual steps towards achieving a solid brand image. These steps usually include:

Bottom line: SEO is effective, but it takes time to deliver the desired results.

This is where PPC steps in. The idea behind it is simple- when a user searches for a keyword that you have optimized your web pages and forms for, it will show up at the top of the SERPs.

The major benefit of PPC is that it produces instant results. Namely, when your PPC campaign is approved, your ad will be shown in front of millions of users conducting relevant searches. This is especially important for marketers that want to improve their website traffic or sales fast.

PPC is also immensely important for businesses wanting to promote time-sensitive offers, like product launches, live events, webinars, or new services.

Finally, paid ads have a prominent position on Google and they drive 41% of clicks. For you, this means boosting your CTR and driving more qualified leads to your site.

Boosting Traffic vs. Skyrocketing Conversions

Organic search is generally more popular with online searchers, as organic results are generally perceived as being more trustworthy and authoritative. Given that, it’s not surprising that over 80% of searchers focus on organic search results exclusively.

However, getting people to click on your link is just half the job done. The other half is inspiring them to convert.

And, this is where paid search steps in. Research shows that PPC users are 50% more likely to convert than organic ones.Why? Google Ads offers sophisticated targeting options, giving you an opportunity to place your ads only in front of relevant audiences. By narrowing your target audience by their age range, gender, location, income, education, or marital status, you will drive more qualified leads and convert them into sales faster.

Remember the famous Pareto Principle that can be applied to sales and marketing. According to it, 80% of your business revenue arrives from only 20% of your leads.

Notable Price Differences

One of the major differences between SEO and PPC is their costs. However, the exact cost of your organic and paid campaigns depends on a wide range of factors, such as whether you will build an in-house team, hire freelancers, or outsource your campaigns to agencies.

As for SEO, one of the most common misconceptions among marketers is that these practices are free. This is not really so. Sure, your traffic is free. But, to get yourself noticed, you need to hire the right people to build your strategy and invest in a bunch of tools, which may cost you some dollars.  

Even though there are numerous price variations, research shows that the majority of businesses in the US invest less than $5,000 in SEO. Only 15% of businesses are ready to allocate up to $10,000 to their organic search campaigns.

The price of PPC is even higher, as you’re paying for every click on your ad. According to recent statistics, the average CPC in Google Ads is about $2, while the most expensive keywords can cost up to $50 per click.

You should also know that the success of your paid ads doesn’t depend only on your budget. Google Ad Rank also considers your Quality Score and CPC bids when placing your ad.

How to Combine SEO and PPC for Maximum Impact

Source: Volusion.

Now that you know the basic advantages and disadvantages of SEO and PPC, let’s explore how you can merge these practices together to increase your overall online presence and provide better user experiences.

Keyword research is the foundation of both SEO and PPC, helping you reach the right people. Simply put, without targeting the right keywords and aligning them with user intent, your campaigns would fail.

What marketers usually forget is that they can combine their SEO and PPC performance data to boost their overall performance. Here are some things you can do today to better align your SEO and PPC strategies.

Provide consistent branding experiences

The major goal of any solid digital marketing campaign is to provide the ultimate user experience across multiple channels. As SEO and PPC target users at different stages of a buying journey, they could be a powerful tandem in providing holistic user experiences, irrespective of when and where a customer clicks on your site.

Collect customer information and provide personalized experiences

One of the most beautiful benefits of combining SEO and PPC is having greater insights into your the performance of your content and campaigns. Data like bounce rates, conversion rates, traffic, leads and virality collected from SEO campaigns can help inform a better, more optimized strategy for PPC campaigns, and vice versa.

This way, your content developers will be able to provide more targeted content, while PPC strategists can create better-personalized campaigns that drive more relevant clicks and qualified leads.

Gain a better understanding of your keywords and optimize your content strategy

Source: Blue Corona.

Google introduced “not provided” keywords to Google Analytics, making it extremely difficult for SEOs to collect keyword-level data. And, this is where Google Ads can help, with its Search Query Reports that will help you monitor and identify your best-performing search phrases.

PPC provides the exceptional remarketing option that lets you promote your exclusive content and increase its online visibility.

When creating PPC campaigns, you need to test and tweak different approaches continuously. This means creating different ad copies and comparing them to understand what works. This is also a great way to understand what kind of content resonates with your audience and use them in your SEO and content creation strategy to increase engagement.

Important tip: While it’s relatively straightforward to tweak PPC campaigns, keep in mind that not all your landing pages are as easily transferable from one ad to another.

For example, if you’re a realtor, you cannot use the exact same landing page for the keywords “Cheap Properties For Rent” and “100+ Rental Properties In Hawaii”. A user who clicks through on the second keyword will be expecting a list of properties specifically located in Hawaii, while the former is arriving to your site from a much broader search term, and might therefore be surprised to only see properties listed for one particular state (that they never even searched for).

Inconsistency in the messaging of your title tag and the content of your actual page can cost your conversion rate to drop severely. To combat this, it’s crucial to ensure that you have targeted landing pages for each distinctive keyword or ad.

While this may seem like a lot of additional work, using a quick tool like Paperform can help you get a landing page or lead form up and running in as little as 3 minutes. This extra bit of targeting and personalization can make all the difference between a successful campaign and wasted time and money.

Without SEO, PPC cannot work

No matter how awesome your ad copy elements are, if your landing page doesn’t provide the same value and resonate with your audiences, people will leave it without converting.

A functional landing page with SEO-friendly URLs, credible content, and optimized meta tags is another proof of how SEO and PPC go hand in hand.

Over to You

The digital marketing landscape has changed drastically over the past decade.

In the past, your search presence implied optimizing your site for Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Today, every big platform with search functionalities can be observed as an individual search engine. This includes social networks, YouTube, Google Play Store, Amazon, and so on.

Moreover, each of these platforms can be further improved with the help of SEO. Digital marketing channels cannot be observed in isolation anymore. They’re constantly intertwining.

The same applies to SEO and PPC. Sure, they deliver different results. SEO is a long-run investment, while PPC works in the short-term. SEO increases your brand trust and loyalty, PPC brings you greater online exposure and conversions.

These differences are a solid reason why these two channels can be a match made in heaven, helping you increase your digital marketing ROI on multiple levels.

About the author
Raul Harman
Raul Harman is the Editor in chief at Technivorz and a business consultant. He liked sharing anything that deals with productivity, startups, business, tech, SEO and marketing.

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