One of the biggest questions in search marketing is the debate over PPC vs SEO as the best way to drive traffic to your website. The two approaches are worlds apart in many ways, but the constantly evolving nature of search can make it difficult to confidently choose between the two.

The truth is you have nothing to worry about, because you don’t need to choose between PPC and SEO at all. The big secret is they work perfectly well (better, in fact) when you team them up together. But this isn’t an option for every business, so let’s break down the pair and take a closer look.

The case for PPC
Simply put, PPC generally refers to bidding for ad space on the first page of search results and paying for every click you receive. This comes with a number of advantages over SEO – especially in the days of Google algorithm updates:

• You see instant results – essentially you’re paying to display on page one of Google (or another engine), which means you should see more traffic from day one.
• You’re in control – with AdWords you control the copy in your ads, the keywords that (do and don’t) trigger your listing and the destination URL for users who click.
• Pinpoint your audience – with geo-location, negative keywords and a range of controls you can pinpoint your audience and drive relevant traffic that’s more likely to buy into your services.
• No fuss about Google algorithms – one of the biggest advantages to PPC in the modern days of search is you don’t have to worry about Google algorithm updates, or the strategies needed to cope with them.

As great as PPC is, there is of course one main disadvantage: you have to pay for it. It doesn’t always have to be expensive, but when things get competitive it’s a case of highest bidder wins. However, as we take a closer look at SEO, you’ll soon see you have to pay for either tactic, one way or the other.

The case for SEO
SEO takes a very different approach to gaining search visibility, using a range of strategies and techniques to climb the organic (unpaid) results returned by a search engine. There are a few advantages to this approach as well:
• Some users avoid ads – if you can bag a top spot in organic results, some visitors will view this as more credible than paid ads.
• Visibility on different search engines – users of Bing, Yahoo! and other engines can still see you in search results – which adds up to a lot of potential leads. Whereas you have to pay for this privilege with PPC.
• It can be cheaper – but don’t fall into the trap of thinking SEO is free. You have to invest a lot of time, resources and potentially money into making it work – so evaluate what these things are worth to your business.

Now this last point is the crucial thing when it comes to SEO. You choose how much money, time and resources you pour into it, but there are a number of drawbacks that come with it:
• SEO takes time – no matter how much you pump into your SEO campaign it will take time and patience to see results.
• Competition is high – so knocking the big names in a competitive industry off the top spot isn’t realistic.
• The goal posts keep moving – thanks to Google algorithm updates the SEO landscape is constantly changing and all your hard work can be wiped out in a single update.

So which is better for your business?
As we mentioned at the start, PPC and SEO work best when they work together – especially for new marketing campaign. PPC gets you instant results, while a solid SEO strategy will help you build a lasting online presence – as long as you’re prepared to put the work in. And if you really have to choose between the two you’ll have to weigh up the competitiveness of your industry and decide which approach best suits your goals.

If you have any problems weighing up the two approaches or need any more information on PPC and SEO, get in touch for some impartial advice.