I think to start this out I’m going to define the two marketing strategies.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It literally means to optimize something (typically your website) for search engines. A search engine is something like Google, Bing and Yahoo. All a search engine does is catalog all of the websites and content on the internet. It then uses mathematical algorithms to determine what the best content to display is when you do a search for “pizza”. Without getting too technical, massive amounts of data (your location, prior search history, available content, et al.) is taken in to account before the search engine displays the results. So if you want SEO for your website, it partially pertains to the words and pictures on your website. But it’s gotten so sophisticated that you have to go well beyond that to get your website ranked and unfortunately what needs to be done is not intuitive to the average small business owner.
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. Whether it’s on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Bing, if you are paying for someone to click on your ads, It’s PPC. Google commercialized it in 2000 for the masses and pretty much every social media site has followed suit. Almost every business owner that I speak to has spent a copious amount of money on PPC and didn’t or don’t know if they made any money back with it. But it can be phenomenally lucrative if done right. But like SEO it has become impressively complicated. It used to be you add a bunch of keywords and throw money at it and you would make money. Not the case any longer, but if I told you every time you give me $1500.00 I’ll make you $10,000.00, you’d do it.
So on to the pros and cons between the two:
- PPC typically delivers immediate results vs. SEO is a long term investment and takes long term work
- PPC targets precise people with precise search terms vs. SEO is more generally targeted based on subject rather than exact searches (though it can be optimized for exact)
- PPC you can track from click to to customer vs. SEO it’s much more complicated to track where, when, why and how they became a customer
- PPC often requires more money now vs. SEO your investment can be paid over years
- PPC you know precisely which search term they searched vs. SEO you do not unless you dedicatedly question your prospects as to how they found you beyond the answer, “On the Internet.”
At Bright Think Marketing we lean toward PPC because we can finance a campaign and show precisely how many leads were created for you. We have custom software (image of dashboard) that allows you to mark your leads as customers and how much they are worth. This gives you a precise cost per acquisition (CPA) and an exact retun on investment (ROI).
This is not to discredit good SEO. SEO is extremely valuable, but it’s a lot of work for a long time consistently. It is often best to have an agency build you a brand new website who will do things the right way from the very beginning.
So it’s up to you to decide.
PPC is great if you’re a service-based company where you are well equipped to quote and sell jobs. If you sell a product, it can eat up all of your profit unless you are well branded, have extremely low competition or are in a niche.
SEO is great if you are willing to put in either the money or the time and effort to build a website, social media accounts and make sure that everything you do is in accordance with Google’s rules (I use Google as the example because they are the top used search engine in the world and invented much of the algorithms in use today by most).