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SEO vs. PPC – should I pay for search engine positioning?

Do you want to position your blog? Or maybe you’re organizing a conference and you want as many people as possible to visit your landing page and sign up for the event? In principle, you have two options: free and paid. Which one should you choose? As always “it depends”, but today we will try to give you an overview of both solutions. So let’s take a look at organic positioning, known as SEO, and paid positioning, known as PPC advertising.

What is PPC?

Let’s start with the paid option. PPC (Pay Per Click) is a billing model in which a fee is charged for each click on your online ad. In the case you want to position a website, this ad is simply a link to the page and a short description of what the visitor will gain by visiting it. If you opt for a PPC advertisement, you pay only when users click on it, not for its display – this is a benefit. The downside, however, is that the ad will disappear when the campaign ends.

The best-known example of PPC advertising is Google Ads. When you enter the phrase you are interested in in the search engine (to simplify, by search engine we mean Google), the promoted results will be the first to appear. With PPC you can also buy sponsored posts and ads on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

It’s worth choosing PPC if you don’t want to wait for organic positioning to “kick in”. This can take up to several months and requires a lot of work. For example, if you want to position your blog solely by writing articles with your chosen keyword phrases, you have to reckon with the fact that you will have to wait a long time for results.

For content created for PPC campaigns, the most important things that Google checks are:

  • the CTR (click-through rate) of your ad, which depends on its title and meta description, i.e. the text under the link to the landing page;
  • the quality of the landing page your ad takes you to – whether visitors spend time on the page looking for information or leave it immediately (Bounce Rate);
  • Price per click: in Google Ads, you compete with other advertisers in an auction (RTB model, Real-time Bidding) – the higher the price per click you bid on a link, the more likely you are to be high in the results. Above a certain amount per click, however, this may not be worth it.

By choosing PPC advertising, you can perfectly target your content by setting many target group criteria, such as:

  • age, 
  • gender, 
  • location, 
  • language, 
  • interests, 
  • the industry they work in,
  • the device they are using.

It’s also worth mentioning that by choosing the PPC model, you can easily track who has clicked on your ad – Google will provide you with your audience’s demographics. You have access to all the data you need to run your campaign, so you can keep track of the results and make changes to make your ad convert better. And if you notice that a campaign isn’t performing, you can simply change a few criteria and monitor the results. That’s the big advantage of PPC. With SEO, such a scenario is impossible. You won’t know what’s not working until you analyze the results and draw conclusions. And you’ll only have data for analysis after a long time.

In PPC you can also retarget your ad, i.e. display it again to a group that has already interacted with your company once, e.g. visited your website or clicked on your ad. So you can’t say that PPC is a one-off activity. After all, your remarketing database can serve you long after your campaign has ended!

home office with inscription "pay per click"

When is PPC best suited?

> You are organizing an event soon and want to advertise it,

> You want to reach a specific target group with your content,

> You want to offer your customers a limited-time offer for a product or service,

> You don’t want to invest time in organic positioning of your website,

> You want to create a group of recipients to whom you can direct your message in subsequent campaigns (remarketing).

What is SEO?

Organic positioning or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one element of digital marketing. Simply put, by performing actions that do not require direct financial outlay, you make your website rank better in Google.

If you want to position your domain organically, i.e. for free, you should make sure that:

  • your pages load quickly,
  • your texts are beneficial for the reader,
  • you have added key phrases to the text, which the readers will type in in the search engine,
  • you have optimized your texts: you have added titles and headings, meta descriptions or images, added internal links (this will invite the reader to read other content on your blog) as well as external links (by giving the sources you use, you show that you rely on real data)
  • you have ensured that other sites link to your domain (link building).

To rank your site well through SEO, you need a lot of time. The upside is that you can do it yourself and get good results. You will only see the effects after a long time, but they will stay on the internet “forever” and will not disappear as with paid positioning. 

If you want to build good SEO, you must take care of the high quality of your content, because this is what Google promotes, and about backlinks. The latter are inbound links – when someone recommends your domain e.g. by adding a link to it in their article, you get a backlink, which is good for your website’s positioning.

It is also necessary to include relevant key phrases in your content – ones that your recipient will type into a search engine. In addition, you need to describe images, take care of the reader-friendly layout of headings and the length of paragraphs.

In SEO, even if you do your best to make the text is the best in the world, you still can’t be sure that it will attract people to your blog or your site will rank for the right phrase. Simply put, the competition for the key phrases in question can be very strong. Despite your best efforts, you may not be on the first page. Link Building is very important. The more valuable sites linking to yours, the better for your organic positioning on given key phrases.

Man writing on his computer

When to choose SEO?

  • You have time and think long term – you want to slowly build up a good position for your website,
  • you want to be an expert in your industry, a recommended source of information that others refer to,
  • you don’t want to spend money on SEO that will only work if you pay,
  • you have a strong domain with many sites linking to it,
  • you want to increase traffic to your website – you will be able to use it for sales purposes because the traffic generated through SEO can be redirected to product sub-pages, where potential customers will fill in forms,
  • you want to build marketing funnels that will work for a long time, regardless of whether you invest in SEO.

Is SEO free?

To put it simply, SEO is free. With the help of free tools, you can choose key phrases which you will later use or titles of articles that you will write. You can also optimize your texts for free, for example in the WordPress dashboard. With a little effort and without spending money, you can also earn backlinks, which will direct visitors to your domain.

To sum up: when we say that you don’t have to spend money on SEO, we mean that yes, texts are positioned “for free”, i.e. without paying Google. But creating and optimizing a lot of high-quality content will cost – at best – your time. However, if you want to achieve really good SEO results, you will need to invest in the right tools. Their free versions are useful but offer limited functionalities. On the other hand, in the paid versions, you have access to a lot of features such as reports, site audits, keyword explorer, and much more.

Conclusion: what to opt for and when?

The first thing that comes to mind is: you have money, but no time – PPC; you have no money, but you have time – SEO. Sometimes, however, the best option is to position yourself organically and buy ads in the PPC model.  With paid ads, you can see immediately what works and what doesn’t. Use this knowledge to improve your organic positioning. By seeing what phrases are more ‘clickable’, you can highlight them in your blog posts or landing pages. 

Whether you’re positioning yourself through SEO or PPC, remember that Google only wants quality content. Others just won’t be displayed. The quality of published content is examined by Google’s algorithms, which are constantly evolving, making them ever ‘smarter’.

If you’re looking for proven tools to run paid campaigns, get to know Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where you can easily create campaigns for Google Ads and social media. Or perhaps you want to integrate your Google Ads account with your Salesforce instance, so you have a complete view of the effectiveness of your campaigns from within the CRM platform? In any of the above cases, contact us!

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